Trick-or-Treating (Tarzana, California)
The underworld has turned inside out, & its creatures
are walking. Fresh from damnation, Goth ladies,
scapular & vamping, amble the gum-stuck sidewalks
of Ventura Boulevard. Tarzana isn’t proud: no one cares
that Halloween handouts make it a welfare state
once a year. Teens & mummy-wrapped parents
swoop ahead of little princesses walking in a night
blotto as a black dahlia. Elmore Leonard ghostwalks,
taking invisible notes in the florid police lingo
of opium poppies. A Dracula, crucifix-shy, &
other trick-or-treat demons, skip among the veiled.
Goody-two-shoes Pollyannas frighten by playing dead.
In our ghost-town, tar zinnias mirror-bloom in the spreading
oil of gutter puddles. Tomorrow the vampires
& their dates will show up at church for All Saints Day,
renewing their baptismal vows at Our Lady of Grace
or St. Nicholas. The black cowls on the street will be
replaced by mantillas on sedate grandmothers.
Pluck an aster from the altar, get married to winter;
the faithful exit, petal-shrouded. A glamour rises as
the women kick up the dead leaves with their stilettos.
Coco Owen is a poet in Los Angeles. She has published poems in Antioch Review, 1913, CutBank, The Journal and The Feminist Wire, among other venues. She has been a finalist in several recent book contests, including the May Swenson Poetry Award, and has a chapbook forthcoming from Tammy. Owen serves on the board of Les Figues Press in Los Angeles. Read more of her work at: cocoowenphd.com.