This I know -
the dead stay dead.
They do not rise up clanking their midnight chains
in that old abandoned house
where young boys,
scared and double-dared,
scoot the weedy path to touch the paint-peeled door,
then run for the safety of the sidewalk,
their puffed-up bravery expired.
Nor do they speak in quavery voices,
delivering cryptic messages from the other side
in darkened, dusty rooms where head-scarved mediums
ply their hustle to gullible flocks.
You will not find The Dead
in misty, moonshaded graveyards
conducting their ever-futile search
for those who, in life,
did them wrong
or loved them not.
At Halloween they do not join
that mockery of themselves upon the streets,
the festive-frenzied crowd who freely trade
their gaudy version of death's agonies
for sugar-laden treats.
In a crazed lust for human brains
shambling hordes do not hunt
their panicked, screaming victims
through suburban streets littered with mutilated corpses
except in movies
Ah, yes, The Dead stay dead
we carry them with us forever.
That third-grade teacher who dried lonely tears,
the soccer coach with the permanent thumbs up
for your missed shot at an open goal,
friends and lovers,
even much-loved family pets.
In our hearts, we carry too
those we never really knew:
the dead in wars,
in fire and storm and flood,
in earthquake, eruption, tsunami,
crushed on forgotten highways.
And what of those fictional heroes,
disposable minor characters,
and tear-jerking sickbed wives
who grieve us with their parting in our favourite
novels, poems, plays
and shows of stage or screen?
The Dead, you know,
stay dead, but still