ALL SAINT'S DAY by Robbie Gamble

Feeling a bit bloated
from a few too many
snuck peanut butter cups, which
says something about my character
on a morning when I’ve got candy corns
stuck in my shoe treads, and the neighbor’s
hedges bristle with blown leaves
clinging to dewy hanks
of glow-in-the-dark spider-web,
yes, today is the day for hallowing
but who hallows anymore—saints
are such intimidating role-models,
having muscled through
their Dark Nights of the Soul
while perched for decades
on pillars in the desert
or bricked into dank nave-side cells
transcending their hairshirts
and the occasional bowl of gruel,
or else the martyrdom spectacles:
ecstatic believers gutted
or grilled or perforated with arrows,
while at best I tolerated last evening
at the back of the house, distracting the dogs
from the onslaught of Hulks and Elsas
bing-bonging the front vestibule,
and I had some time to consider
if I’d been a good enough Dad,
if I’d worked hard enough
to salvage my first marriage,
if Paul carried scars into adulthood
from that Buzz Lightyear costume
we spent weeks fabricating
from corrugated box panels
and found objects: ski gloves,
file folders for gauntlets, a clear plastic
trashbasket dome for a helmet,
with jet wings ending up too wide to fit
through most doorways, abrading
his shoulders so that he welled with tears
before we’d even gone a block,
deflated by pain and the misguided
perfection of our concept. Deo gratias.
He called yesterday from the west coast
to ask how we used to make those
soy sauce roasted pumpkin seeds, so
that’s something tangy he held onto.
Tomorrow is All Souls’ Day,
and I’ll take comfort in revering
some of the ordinary folks
now gone: my brother Brad,
Donalda from the drop-in center,
even my whiny ex-brother-in-law, Bob;
schlubs who were sometimes dealt
lackluster odds, but carried on
with what they had at hand: a rap sheet,
a glue gun, a mother’s love, a smoker’s cough,
until they couldn’t. Blessed Be.
You just rinse the pumpkin glop off
the raw seeds, spread them out
on a cookie sheet, stick them in the oven,
stir them around now and then until
they dry out, then add the seasoning.

Photo by Christopher Sessums, used and adapted under CC.