From the Archives: Rachel Ponce de Leon on “trick or treat” by j. adam white

transparentghost-1halloween is my favorite month of the year, as they say. every time it rolls around, i know that october in atlanta is a special time: the wind picks up, possessing leaves to slap people on the ankles. the temperature cools from sweaty 86 to brisk 68. the persimmons drop fatly to the pavement, orange on black. the night begins to come on sooner and sooner as the evening of eerie abandon approaches.

even if they stop fearing the monsters that emblemize hallowe’en, those who continue to face the night past the years of tricks and treats cannot deny that on the 31st, the outside world still manages to carry a mysterious air. is there anything out there but the wind? one can only guess.

this piece from the spring 2012 issue is full to bursting with treats and tricks, which in poetry mean the same. white’s winding, loping piece reads breathlessly, and i appreciate his attentive use of punctuation. this is a poem with a motor. it hiccups to a windy start, winds through the confusion of an anxious liminal space, and chugs to a halt on a glaring sense of doubt.

speaking of, another thing i like about halloween is that it really is a threshold of thresholds and this dark, sweet little piece treats the night just so. trick or treating is a fleeting ritual, one that always rests on a double-edged sword of freedom: wandering the neighborhood could result in either joy or terror. not to mention, it takes place on the border between months in the witching hours of night, when the borders between material and conceptual realms alike are supposedly more apt to disintegrate. say, for example, the realms of desire and action; of sense and nonsense; even of subject and object.

white navigates the confusion of being young and hormonal in the internet age, reflecting on isolation and temporality along the way. halloween night is a fertile, fertile landscape in which to situate these issues. after all, what drives young adults, lovers, and children of the night alike but the allure of exploring shadowed territory?

-r. ponce de leon
Poetry Editor


“trick or treat” by J. Adam White

volume 2, issue 2

spring 2012

wind came like ghosts
against this house, howling
for their or our loneliness
with more tricks than treats
and your bag light with candy
and your skin hot with darkness
there’s no google translate
from boy to girl or
monster to midnight or
street to streetlight
only carved guesses out of
pumpkin flesh saying yes,
this candle’s lit but
who knows for how long


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