For all your little witchlings.
[This is an early illustration by Adrian Tans, who did the
artwork for the book.]
Witches Night Before Halloween
- LB, 2007
’Twas the night before Halloween and all through the cottages,
The witches were stirring their brews and their potages.
Their cupboards were bursting with hop-toads and newts,
And they’d shined up their pointy-toed, fancy-dress boots.
The witchlings lay snoring, quite snug in their beds,
With visions of moist, creeping things in their heads.
“Nice night,” whispered Mad-Maud to Potbelly-Pat
As she snuffed out the torches and took in the cat.
But at the first stroke of midnight, when folks lay asleep,
The whole gang of witches on tiptoes did creep
Out past the cornfields and ’neath the trolls’ bridge,
Past the shadowy crossroads to Cemetery Ridge.
“It’s time to begin,” hissed Elise-With-One Eye
As the moon reached its peak in the October sky.
On the stump of a tree, with a thump and a creak,
Big-Bree drummed a beat as the witches all shrieked:
“Come goblins! Come ghosties! Come skeleton bones!
We’ve witch work tonight We can’t do it alone!”
They stomped on the ground! They bellowed! (They wheezed.)
They tangoed! And salsa-ed! (On arthritic knees.)
Louder and wilder with each passing verse
They chanted in voices from tuneless to worse.
Till BANG! the old charnel house cracked and broke,
And out flew their pals with a big blast of smoke!
A few drooling ghouls from down underneath,
With cleanly picked bones and half-rotted teeth;
A pale, dark-eyed viscount quite long in the tooth;
Two squadrons of zombies, unkempt and uncouth;
Dark, furry, four-footed, hard-to-see things
That take to the sky amidst flutter of wings;
Redheaded banshees with ear-splitting wails;
And a rheumy-eyed ghost dressed in neatly pressed tails.
With one boney finger, Maud tested the breeze,
Grabbed hold of her broom and ascended with ease.
“To town!” she commanded. “There’s much to be done.
Pack your newts and your spiders. Let’s go have some fun!”
They dangled black bats from the City Hall eaves
And festooned each doorway with poisonous leaves.
Cobwebs were stretched from church spire to town square,
And green slime was dribbled down every porch stair.
On each hollow pumpkin they scratched a mad grin,
Set the kitty-cats yowling, and stoked up the wind.
“So much haunting to get done in so little time,”
Mourned a vain, headless countess, a bit past her prime.
“Not to mention the rusty old gates we back-ordered
Are stuck in a truck at the Canadian border.”
“Not like the old days,” whined Rotten-Tooth-Ruth,
“Is this the example we set for our youth?”
More shadows! More cobwebs!
More monsters! More slime!
More dank, moldy cellars!
More grave dust! More grime!
And when they had finished, thick fog hugged the ground,
So they snapped a few photos, and flew out of town.
“To the hovels! Let’s go! Time to wake up the spawn!”
Cried the witches while hobbling back home ’cross the lawn.
They banged pots together, poked the witchlings with sticks,
Till the kiddies woke up and threw terrible fits.
“It’s Halloween, you gremlins!” crooned Bubonic-Sue,
“Time to show all the humans what witches can do!”
At that the wee witchlings leapt straight from their beds,
Tied pointy black caps to their misshapen heads,
Laced up their brat boots, grabbed onto their brooms,
And rode single-file toward the just-risen moon.
“Stay warm! Make good choices!” yelled the parental group,
As the young witches did some back-flips with a whoop.
And yelled loud as they could, while they sailed through the night:
“Happy Halloween to all and to all a good fright!”
BACK TO THE CABINET