The Halloween Edition of The International Imaginarium For Word & Verse (October 25th, 2022)

Paul Szlosek During the Last Full Moon

PAUL: Good evening, folks! Welcome to our Halloween-themed edition of the International Imaginarium For Word & Verse (we were originally going to call it “The Scarymaginarium”, but that doesn’t exactly roll easily off the tongue). Unlike a regular edition of the Imaginarium, tonight we will have no featured poet, but just an open mic divided into two sections separated by a short intermission during which you can check out the photos in our special Imaginarium Halloween Photography Exhibit. As you can see, we have a rather small group gathered here with just 3 people on our sign-up sheet for the open mic, so tonight’s poetry show will most likely be fairly brief. Before I call the first poet in our open mic to the stage to read, I will kick off the show with a short poem appropriately titled “Halloween” by a little-remembered early 20th century poet and journalist from Kentucky named Edwin Carty Ranck :


A night when witches skim the air,
        When spooks and goblins climb the stair;
     When bats rush out with muffled wings,
        And now and then the door-bell rings;
     But just the funniest thing of all
        Is ’cause you can’t see when they call.

—Edwin Carty Ranck

And now please welcome to the podium,  the host of the monthly Poetry Extravaganza poetry reading series, which is returning on November 1st after a long hiatus, but now located at the Redemption Rock Brewing Company in Worcester, Joe Fusco, Jr…

Joe Fusco, Jr. (To Bee or Not to Bee)

JOE: Here’s an old piece that involves a costume or lack of…

The Invisible Man

Sometimes I stick my foot out,
Tripping a daughter racing to pick up the phone.
Sometimes I flush the toilet,
Startling a daughter preparing to meet her Big Date.
Sometimes I unplug Play Station, switch Dawson’s Creek
to the Golf Channel, turn on the porch light during heartfelt goodbyes.
Sometimes I steal food or add undesirable items to a dinner plate:
“Who gave me more carrots,” my son exclaims.
“Your father must be home,” his mother answers,
Rebuttoning her blouse.

—Joe Fusco, Jr.

PAUL: Thank you, Joe. And now, please welcome to the stage, Tom Ewart (otherwise known as tommywart):

Tom Ewart (aka tommywart)

TOM: This piece came to me in the middle of the night, and I had to get up and write it down; with a few tweaks the next day:


Because of where he lived,
he knew just what to choose
as his own way out, once
he had only a few months left.

He drove around the rim,
stopping at several spots,
peering down for angle, depth;
taking measurements.

After he made his choice,
he revved his car in neutral,
when it whined, he popped the clutch
and rocketed toward the edge.

Just then, a deep and booming voice
came to or maybe from him:


He quickly hit the brakes,
but someone had misjudged
the speed and the weight.
(How could that be, given infallibility?)

As the car hurtled
over the cliff and vanished,
he regretted he never got to know
if the voice had more to say.


PAUL: Thank you, Tom! Well, that concludes the very brief first half of our open mic. We’ll be taking that brief intermission that I mentioned previously in a couple of minutes, but before we do, it’s time for me to present this month’s Imaginarium group poem.  This month, we requested people to send us one to eight lines starting with the phrase “Halloween is…” All contributions were then compiled into the following poem which I’m afraid. like our open mic, is also rather shorter than usual this month since we only received submissions from just Karen Durlach and A. J. Wilson (aka poetisatinta) besides myself…

Just What Is This Thing Called Halloween?

Halloween is the night of scary things
of witches’ brews and flying brooms
of hissing cats and screeching bats
of chills and mists that pierce the soul
and whispering winds that keep you cold
so stay alert, away from witchy spells
then you’ll be safe from the hounds of hell.

Halloween is hanging 
by a thread, from a web,
the rattle of bone, in the dark, alone,
a fluttery sheet that has no feet,
a headless hat, a phantom cat,
a spooky night, such a fright delight.

Halloween is a holiday marked by the consumption
Of confection, commercialism crass as Christmas,
A celebration of contradictions when the so-called innocent don masks
to extort the neighborhood, where the ominous and the whimsical
Dance cheek to cheek at a costume ball, and you never know
Either to expect a sack of candy corn or a bag of human bones.

—The October 2022 Imaginarium Halloween Group Poem

Thank you both Karen and A.J. for contributing to tonight’s Imaginarium Halloween group poem! And now we will be taking that break I promised earlier so you can check out the photos on display in our Imaginarium Halloween photography show. I have also brought back my cousin Dwayne’s time machine like we had during last year’s Virtual Scaretorium, so you can once again have the opportunity to use it to travel back (now) 46 years into the past to Edgar Allan Poe’s home city of Baltimore and attend a Halloween poetry reading held on the night of October 31st, 1976 at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Don’t be afraid to dawdle there and enjoy the poetry since you have a time machine and plenty of time to get back here for the second part of our open reading. Anyway, have fun and when you get back I’ll present the submissions we received for this month’s special Imaginarium Six Word Story Writing Challenge before kicking off the latter half of the open mic…



Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek
Photo by Paul Szlosek




PAUL: Hey, folks, welcome back from the break! I’ll be starting the second portion of the open mic in just a bit, but first, I’ll present all the submissions we received in response to our Imaginarium Writing Challenge to write a six-word story. Actually, we only received two original six-word stories (both from just one person), but Tom Ewart did share with us the following one with no title which he credits to Ernest Hemingway and says is his favorite six-word flash fiction story of all time – “For sale: baby shoes. Never used.”

Karen Durlach sent us two that she wrote especially for the occasion, the first without a title…

wet highway
speeding semis
360 skid

—Karen Durlach

Her second one does have a title…

No Tips

jolly breakfasters
icy waterglasses
spilled tray

—Karen Durlach

And now to conclude this segment of the show, here are four six-word stories I wrote myself a couple of years ago with Halloween in mind:

The Woman Who Cast No Reflection

She wasn’t a vampire, just invisible.

—Paul Szlosek

The Man in the Mirror

It was no one I recognized…

—Paul Szlosek

Still Life

Her shadow moved, but she didn’t.

—Paul Szlosek

The Tragedy of Mister Magoo at the Okefenokee

Without warning, the “log” began moving…

—Paul Szlosek

Well, that concludes the Imaginarium Six-Word Story challenge. Now I’m going to launch the second half of the Halloween open mic with a hopefully spooky Six-Sentence Story that I wrote for last year’s Virtual Scaretorium…

The Open Door

Arkham College photography student George Allenby was walking home from a Halloween photoshoot at Hope Cemetery along Webster Street at dusk when he first noticed the faint strains of “Radar Love” drifting from the century-old brick building in the distance. As he walked closer, he recognized the familiar voice of the early evening disc jockey of a local classic rock station blaring from the wide-open green wooden door of the Whitechapel Chemical Distribution Company. He thought “how strange, this is something you might expect to find on a warm summer evening in July or August, but not in the cool brisk weather of late October.” His first instinct was to call the police and report the incident of the open door, but he had forgotten his cell phone in his dorm room.  Although he knew deep within his gut that it wasn’t a good idea, curiosity got the better of him, so he poked his head through the darkened doorway and yelled “Anyone there?”, but there was no answer. As he unwisely entered the pitch blackness of the premises, the last thing George heard was the sound of ‘Stairway to Heaven” being cranked up to an ear-deafening volume as if to drown out any possible screams…

—Paul Szlosek

And now, please welcome both the first and last (in fact, the only) poet on the second half of the open mic, a good friend of the Imaginarium, Howard J Kogan…

Howard J Kogan

HOWARD: Since I think of Halloween as a children’s holiday, here is a halloween poem for a young child and since this time of year is followed by winter here’s another poem for children for that season. The poem “Up All Night” was previously published in the Berkshire Writer’s Room publication…

Up All Night

I stayed up all night just to see if I might
Though I worried a ghost would give me a fright
I was all by myself without even a light

And I waited and waited most of the night.
What I wanted to see but didn’t want to see
Was a creepy old ghost, witchy and white
Fly into my room in the middle of the night
Who I prayed would be friendly and smiling at me.

None came in sight though I tried half the night
And my eyes grew heavy and finally shut tight
And the ghost came a creeping right into my sight
And scared me awake in the middle of the night.

Oh, I stayed up all night just to see if I might
And greeted the dawn with oh such a yawn.
Then came the day and I slept it away!

—Howard J Kogan originally published in the Berkshire Writer’s Room


The thrill I feel at the forecast,
an excitement as old as the ice age,
as old as the glaciers, living in caves
and wearing animal’s clothes.
The sundogs are pacing,
the cold winds are racing
and dark clouds cover the sky.
This joy that I’m feeling
that has my mind reeling
is something I know you know,
it’s the evening forecast of snow!
It may seem stranger at this age
than when I was school age,
but I love when it’s snowing
then drifting and blowing.
Oh, we’ll wake in a new world,
a no work or school world,
and live like the Eskimo’s do.
We’ll build a igloo and live in it too,
and stay till we start turning blue,
as young as I feel, as old as I am,
it’s my favorite thing to do!

—Howard J Kogan

PAUL: Thank you so much, Howard! The final poem of the evening will be the one that I also closed out last year’s Virtual Scaretorium with. It is both a 26-word abecedarian and a magic spell. I hope you will enjoy it (and it doesn’t work)…


A Black Cat’s Dandruff,
Elderberry Flowers,
Giggle, Higgle, Intestines Jiggle.
Karloff’s Lurking Monster,
Necromancers’ Occult Powers.
Quabala, Rubella, Salmonella.
Tonight, Unspeakable Voodoo, Witchcraft…
Xalabombies, You’re Zombies!!!

—Paul Szlosek

Well, I hope you have enjoyed our Halloween edition of the International Imaginarium For Word & Verse, and we will see you all this Thursday at our live Halloween Poetorium at the Starlite show (which we are dubbing “The Spookatorium”) in Southbridge on October 27th featuring the incredible science fiction, fantasy, and horror writer and poet Alan Ira Gordon and then back here again in November when the Imaginarium’s featured poet is scheduled to be the 2021 Stanley Kunitz Medal WinnerEve Rifkah. So good night, everyone, and please have a happy but spooky Halloween!


  1. Short but sweet open mic this time, and I really liked Paul's The Open Door. Now I want to know what you found on the other side, so write six more sentences!


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