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  • Writer's pictureRoMa Johnson


Updated: Apr 15, 2022

(pronounced Sow-en, Celtic Day of the Dead)

Eve of Samhain


the small house ‘grew’ smaller

—a funny phrase—

the house un-grew, I would say:

pulled in its square arms,

sucked in its gut,

refused to tidy itself

(so it smells a bit).

Brave I

walk the length and breadth of it

— 2 steps by 2 steps—

pushing back,

yet all of you cram in,

your ephemerality causes the candle to gutter.

I remember you, I cry.

Isn’t that enough?

. . .

Nothing for it but to go out,

leave you to it,

you all know each other, I presume?

plenty of room in the bed (hah!),

at the stove,

up between the sea salt and the whiskey,

be my guests.

I’m for the rain,

the wind,

the black bird threading the hedge,

that branch buttressing a be-jeweled Castle of Neith

—herself being Herself enthroned at the center—

I’m for the grass-flattened path where I walk

and re-walk and


I’m for getting wet

and more wet,



cold at the neck.

I can outwait you,

go ahead the place is all yours.

Early morning Samhain

You’re not here this morning—yet—I see,

I s’pose you are somewhere away, primping for tonight

in hopes of pixilating, perhaps, or

evanescing in the light of the prophesied Blue Moon.

So for now the house is mine again.

Even so,

I latch the door behind me as I step forth with camera

intent on capturing the image of the spider.


the wind bufffets her in her Halloween web,

a leg changes position on the line,

I shoot,

look down to check the image,

look up,

she is gone,

another phantom,

another reminder of the hide-and-seekness

of you.

~ ~

En-isled again

I hold my teacup to my breast while

I look up her names:

Neith, Inktoni, Uttu, Arachne, Minerva

grandmother, dream catcher,

Ehep—lowering the first people to earth on a strand of web—

Wisdom Keeper,

Spider Woman,

Goddess of the Earth,


She gives me three words to hold in secret.

Every once in a while I look up

to catch a glimpse of you out the small wet window,


in the blown leaf

and I think,

not yet,

I’m content with looking up spider names

for now.

Afternoon Samhain

You have returned I see

and set up a Big Screen in my heart

showing movies:

me in a blue windbreaker on Venice Beach, you in white,

‘socially distanced’ in today’s parlance,

self protection back then, the

magnetism whenever we got close

so intense I walked into walls,

you drove off.

Another movie:

two silly girls in Glastonbury,

one in a sweater of cardinal red,

one in blue,

standing on the Abbey grounds

under the Holy Thorn—

who took that picture, eh?

You again,

careening hell-bent for leather

through midnight Canyonlands with the headlights out

so we could see the stars,

me hanging out the window.

Another of an old cowboy dancing

with his gal standing on his feet.

A kiss so hard it busted my lip.


You again

and you again

and I issue a warning: only the good times

and we’re in the desert again,

on the lifeguard stand again,

reading a sex manual,

trying to see if we can get into the postures,

you eager,

me untethered.

And Tommy

leaning against a fence in Foxen Canyon,



until the fence gave way.


And you, driving your black truck

along the coast road,

down into Mexico,

out to the Rez,

up to Death Valley,

homeward at 3 a.m.


crusted with salt or sand or red Navajo earth,

cruising into LA in time to get me to work.

And you and you and you.

I know you can keep these movies going all afternoon.

Nothing for it but to go out again

now the rain has stopped—

I don’t know if that is good or bad—

easier to blend in when it’s raining.

Tears, you know.

Evening Samhain

For some reason

I need to wash something;

I find three colored shirts I bought in


rinse them,

hang them out on the branches of a small tree where

they writhe and blow in the wind,

puff with the gusts.

S. comes down to say

‘You can put them in the dryer, you know’

and I say

I want to watch them,

they look like ghosts.

Night Samhain

I’ve never done this alone,

set out a Dumb Feast

with food and drink for guests,

an extra setting for the beloved dead;

I spoon crème brulee

unearthed from the back of the fridge

into two bowls,

pour two half-glasses of cooking wine,

light a candle.

I know you’re all here, I say,

Hail and Welcome.

My words fall on deaf ears, hah!

the empty chair does not fill with you,

or anybody,

or any non-body,

and I try to maintain the ritual but my mind retreats

to the mundane,

to what to do with the food that you are not eating

I feel

like a certain king, who made a marriage feast… and sent out his servants to tell those who were invited ‘Come. Everything is now ready’…but they would not come.

I clear the table,

leave one small candle to burn itself out in the night.

Early Morning

I clean house.


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