Bruce J. Wood Poems for Halloween

Old Stump

Bruce J. Wood, from Moss Dwelt Hollows

The weathered tree stump,
in the backyard, often seems
to have a face that smiles;

on occasion, it will wink, just at
twilight, when many things twinkle
before darkness.

It’s believed the stump once growled
back at a mean, mangy dog; it cowered,
then hid, beneath the deck floor boards.

Some say the local elves and pixies
use the flat wooden top
for late-night gatherings and dances.

That’s why, at night, we keep
the porch light on—
just in case.

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Floating Heart

Bruce J. Wood, from Herringbone Tweed

I am drawn by the gentle autumn breezes that
come inland over the waters of Grand Traverse Bay;
set in a sea of red, yellow, green, and gold,
the countryside is a patchwork quilt of colored leaves.

During the autumn wine festival and sailboat regatta,
I make my annual sojourn to the Leelanau Peninsula,
to visit Anna, the innkeeper at the Northport Victorian inn—
I can see its white wood summoning me from the bay.

Anna’s prize rose bushes accent her century old inn;
the fragrance of rose petals mix with the aromas of cherry,
apple, and plum from the nearby orchards. Guests tour the
local art studios, vineyards, wineries, and cider mills.

As usual, when I enter the parlor, the smell of Anna’s baking
wafts through the inn. I find her in the kitchen—just as I remember.
She hums to herself, then straightens her apron and keeps busy by
baking breads, pies, and cakes; the inn is always full during the regatta.

On the veranda, Alice, the inn’s longest continuing guest,
sits on the porch swing as she peers out over the bay. She is waiting
for her brother, Anthony. He faithfully guards the marina and can
be seen there day and night, looking out on the waters just as she does.

Droves of people line the marina for the weekend races. Onlookers cheer
as hundreds of crew men and women pit their sailing skills against others’
sailboats and yachts, racing against each other on the bay. In this regatta,
no one seems to remember the dangers involved with these dark waters.

The concurrent wine festival fills the air with barbecue smoke,
music, and laughter; these sounds drown out the honks and quacks
of migrating Canadian geese, mallard ducks, and loons who stop here
on their annual migration trek. Anna and I always spoiled them with treats.

A portrait hangs in the hall of all of us—Anna, Alice, Anthony,
and myself—with our sailboat. In our early 20s—vibrant, daring,
and happy in our youth. The newspaper’s photographer took this picture
right before Anna bid us farewell at the pier—we were racing that Autumn day.

Each year, on the last evening of the regatta, Anna walks down to the
marina at sunset. I watch her light a candle and carry a heart shaped
wreath to the end of the pier. I keep my distance as she says a prayer,
then draw near when she sets the wreath on the waves. The flame flickers

as soft autumn breezes compel me to follow Anna’s floating heart—the wreath
and I journey far on the dark waters of the bay, past the lighthouse. The perfume
of Anna’s roses is strongest when we pass where our boat capsized. Her candle
still shines from the pier as I say goodbye—sinking back to my watery grave.

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The Race of Bronze

Bruce J. Wood, from Moss Dwelt Hollows

Those that lack noble virtue, thrive
on lust and violence. The Race of Bronze,
terrible giants who rely on brute force.

Selfish and merciless, shrill and ugly,
attended by the gods Envy and Strife, they follow
the slaughter of Ares, driven mad by Dionysus.

In wanton self-destruction, they fight among
themselves and sink into the pit of Tartarus.
No light enters their shadows, only darkness.

Hell’s Dragon swallows them whole, they
become the gorgons, erinyes, sirens,
daemons, graeae, harpies, and cyclops.

Forever, they lurk in the shadows,
making real our most primal fears,
and gnaw in the depths of our unconscious.

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Pathless Wood

Bruce J. Wood from Mural Tapestries

Seducer shapeshifts in the night,
making dogs howl. Transported from remote
recesses of our deepest fears, eyes pierce
darkness, thrust through. Thoughts coil like a trap,


ready to spring. Irrational Dionysian passion
intoxicates— untamed nature runs free. We
revel in sweet Indulgence, and satiate forbidden
pleasures. Order meets chaos when rational

minds are driven into madness; ecstasy conflicts
with reason as wild imagination bursts free,
splintering into infinite sparks. Hidden in the
brush, intertwined branches unite to pollenate


the flower whose ripe vine yields the nectar
that makes us human, the seminal fluid sparks
life, the bitter fruit of toil. The discovery begs
release, call us to uninhibited freedom, to break

hold of earthly bounds and escape the flesh
to be one with the God who seizes souls and
flies away to the realm of dreams, where
fantasies are ruled by magic. He molds


earth into metal forms; his fiery breath charges
the bellows. Human souls, tempered by the
forge break free, trespassing destiny to sow
the winds of change.

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Annoying Fly

Bruce J. Wood from Mural Tapestries

Buzzes into our lives—
rude, intrusive little pest

Deploys on its rounds,
diligent scout charts our world

Learns our secrets,
listens to our inner thoughts

Keeps record of our
success and failures

Tracks our desires and despairs—
diligent scout privy to our dreams

Swiftly evaporates into thin air,
appearing before Beelzebub, lord of flies

To report on the overripe souls
ready to pluck for Hell’s harvest feast

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Dante’s Inferno

Bruce J. Wood from Mural Tapestries

Damn! Damn!
Curse the light!
Curse the womb that bore me!

Abandoned by hope, despairing in utter darkness,
I am forever trapped in the eternal pit, prey to the witch-
whore who is eating me from the inside out.

Madness, void of reason, twists with pleasure,
subjects me to its wicked and perverse rule; I am
mutilated and reduced to a bestial grovel.

Soon, infatuated by fantasy and desire, I gain strength
through perversity, explore hidden depths and consume
forbidden fruits to liberate dark secrets.

I become my own law, champion my own cause and purpose.
I do not need a god to rule; there is nothing in Creation but
power and control, a mastering of the weak, all for pleasure.

I will destroy Creation, unleash armies of gorgons,
furies, and demons to exact revenge on what God
loves most – humans; let the Dragon consume all.

Die! Die!
Feast on the righteous! Erase all memory of vile existence,
blast it to cosmic dust blown over eternity.
Let sweet chaos reign.

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Garden Dwarf

Bruce J. Wood from Mural Tapestries

Along the hiking trail, which winds through
the local park, I often pass by a garden that
has a small statue of a dwarf in the center,
many folks stop there, almost like at a shrine.

For good luck people have put trinkets around
its neck.

Over the years, the statue has been painted.
His once gray face is now flesh tone, the jacket
became royal blue; his red cap grew gold fringe,
and fierce, blue eyes blaze from behind blond hair.

The dwarf has a wicked, sneering smile and a gaze
that follows the onlooker, as if the creature is thinking:
“Do not even think about pilfering one single marble,
stone, necklace, bobble, or bead from my hoard.”

Despite the sparkle of suncatchers and the occasional
miniature liquor bottle, I have seen no reason to tempt fate.
The dwarf reminds me of an African woman from New Orleans
—an old voodoo queen who sold herbs and potions. She also
had a way of looking right through me, with her one eye,
as she smoked a cigar, shucked a bucket of crawdaddies,
and gulped a daiquiri Go-cup.

Some whisper within told me that it would be wise
to stay on her good side as well.

Flipping roaches

Tinkering Cockroaches

Bruce J. Wood from Mural Tapestries

Little robots dart,
digging vast catacombs
to subterranean empires

Meticulously building superstructures
from discarded components
of urban industrial waste

They assemble gigantic machines,
fabricate infrastructure, and
build mechanized armies

In constant communication,
they receive and send messages
with their forward-facing antennae

They await orders
from the mother-ship and
wait to launch their global invasion


Bruce J. Wood from Birch Willow Glens

I saw an apparition of death;
beautiful fair maiden in a soft white gown,
her long locks floated in the breeze.

She beckoned me to her embrace,
of dull thought and eternal sleep,
she submerges consciousness into oblivion.

I broke free of her spell;
I chose life, though it’s a struggle,
over the illusions of the keeper of souls.

She glanced a knowing smile,
and let this catch go for a time; her glimpse
on occasion haunts my memory.

I keep a keen ear for the taps of angel wings
brushed against the window pane, cryptic
messages in a cadence pulse of my heart.

As the decades pass,
the allure of her specter
peers through the distant mist.

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Uriel “Fire of God”

Bruce J. Wood from Birch Willow Glens

This angel holds the keys to Hell,
and picks out the ripest souls,
for the tables of Heaven’s feast.

There, God and his angels gorge fat
on disobedient souls who didn’t obey
their parents or listen to their teachers.

Marinated souls are thrust on spikes,
of those who stayed up late, and
ate too much candy and sweets.

Cherubs poke forks in those that
had too much sex, didn’t
study, and watched TV.

Seraphim skewer those who danced to
wild music, drank too much wine and beer,
and got high on drugs.

Year after year, Uriel brings the dead
to the Final Judgement –
to feast or be eaten.

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Antique Malls

Bruce J. Wood from Lavender Prairie Sage

Reconstructed past of other people’s belongings—
a chaotic collection of artifacts; rusty and dusty,
spent pieces of eternity.

A pair of grey eyes peer from behind the silver tea set
and string of pearls; a white gloved hand clutches
the folded American flag and the Calvary sword.

Tight lips press against the crystal decanter
and cordial glass; a child’s hand touches the
rocking horse and set of China dolls.

Faint footprints show in the layers of dust; fingertips
press on panes of glass. Chill stares pierce the veil
that divides this world from the other side.

Ghosts circle, anxiously attached to their belongings;
the cold dark realm of shadows often collides with ours—
caught in peripheral visions, sounds, and dreams.

Desperate spirits cling to this world,
like blades of grass withered in the wind.
In time, all dissolve into vague memories.

Pin on People

Mad Stella

Bruce J. Wood from Lavender Prairie Sage

Crazy Stella, the cackling old hag,
mad bag lady, pushes her shopping
cart around Greek Town’s alleys.

She screams and yells at strangers,
argues with her inner voices, and
foretells the future of passers-by.

Most are too busy to notice her warnings
and omens. She predicts the weather,
how the stock market will act,

the outcomes of sports events,
and lotteries. But nobody listens,
nobody notices, or cares. She goes

back to her little flat, where she hides
millions of dollars, obtained by
sleeping with a goat under the moon.

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Bruce J. Wood from Lavender Prairie Sage

That summer, we moved into the
old mansion on the hill; the structure
was right out of a Hawthorne novel.

It wasn’t long, though, before we
discovered that we were not
the only inhabitants.

We heard little feet scrabbling in the
wallboards all night, and creaks in the
attic; at night, our food was broken into.

Thinking we had mice, for months, we tried
snap-traps, then glue traps, and finally poison—
despite all our efforts, the traps were useless.

So, we hired an exterminator who said, “Yeah,
this house is infested alright; you’ve got elves.
You can try to elf-proof it, but they’ll still get in.”

We were plagued by little, invisible pranksters,
who turned on lights, stole socks, hid bottle caps,
stole pens, coveted earrings, and buried our keys.

We tried mothballs, garlic, bells, copper nails,
potions, and spells, but nothing worked. These imps
had the upper hand and even trained our cat to do tricks.

Finally, admitting defeat, we tried another tactic;
it turns out that elves have a fancy for honey, cream,
nuts, and berries. We left food and a light on for them—

They soon returned the favor – in the mornings, we found
our shoes repaired, socks darned, buttons sewn, clocks
wound, furniture dusted, and silver and copper polished.

Puck Hobgoblin

Bruce J. Wood from Lavender Prairie Sage

Whimsical little hearth spirit
sits there laughing
at his own impish tricks.

Busy in never-ending games, he dances
– without care or worry, misunderstood
for unaccountable mischief.

The cat only sees him after he pulls
its tail; the dog barks while he taunts
it from a tree limb.

We hear him scamper across the roof,
after making a mess; he hides under kids’
beds and peeks in people’s windows.

Unrepentant, this delinquent wreaks havoc,
spoils the milk, stops the clocks, and lets the
animals out of the barn.

People blame him for all kinds of crimes and
catastrophes; don’t they know that hobgoblins
just want to have fun?

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Bruce J. Wood, from Moss Dwelt Hollows

Contrary to mortal opinion, I was not
robbed by my brothers, Zeus and Poseidon,
when we cast lots for each domain.

I clearly gained the advantage by taking
all of Earth’s bounty of wealth – metals,
minerals, gold, gems, oil, and resources.

I did not abduct the beautiful Persephone,
daughter of Zeus and Demeter; she
pleaded with me to be my Queen.

I reward the mortals with untold gifts;
all they need is ask, and it is theirs,
for a while, in their short life span.

Then, they all come home to me, for eternity,
in the afterlife, where I have dominion over all souls;
at birth, I breathe life into them, and take it away at death.

What do Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon offer?
Thunder and earthquakes, law, submission,
tyranny, fear, punishment, and war.

It is I who yield fertile grains and fruit
from the soil, gifts of Demeter and Dionysus.
I offer ores for the fires of Hephaestus and Prometheus,

They fashion tools, crafts, and weapons for Ares, Athene,
Apollo, and Herakles. I possess the forests and mountains
of Artemis and Pan. My dominion offers the cycle of life.

Coming full circle, under the guidance of Aphrodite,
Hestia, Demeter, and Hermes; evil doers are judged
and punished, and the just are rewarded with Paradise.

b&w, black and white and dead - image #526230 on


Bruce J. Wood from Moss Dwelt Hollows

Death is sitting on the rock,
half buried with soil,
partly covered in green moss.

Stark, gaping bones
are slowly being
devoured by the elements.

Damp from morning dew,
the bones exude a sharp chill
which penetrates deep.

Folds of dried brown leaves,
vines, and moss layer among
gravel and sod, black as onyx.

A broken skull, femur, and ribs
intermesh with tree roots and
glacial chiseled stone.

Death is back there, along
the trail, in the shade of the
grey oak—waiting out time.

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Stone Silhouette of Sylvia Plath

Bruce J. Wood from Mural Tapestries

She runs down narrow, dark pathways,
the dead-end labyrinths are bordered by demons
who bite at her ankles to escape from the light.

She hurls through an unknown portal, and trips
into black magic nightmare caverns, alive
with pit creatures, as pagan gods run amok.

She writhes when ghouls imprison light in jars
unleashing other-worldly darkness and fracturing
her fragile borders further inward.

She burns on the pyre of insatiable hunger;
she breaks under the weight of their commands.
Her self-loathing spreads poison into the world.

She screams at the howl and clang of ghosts, who
shriek from the shadows between stones, proclaiming
that there is no resurrection for those who dwell in dust.

She is bound by their voices—dragged closer to her grave.
Infested by worms who conquer consciousness, her body
is ripped by mouths that feast upon the last breath of hope.

She opens herself to hell, and breathes deep as toxic venom
extinguishes her quickened wick. Life drains from her with a
soft whimper— left alone and forgotten.

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Bruce J. Wood
Bruce J. Wood
Bruce J. Wood, founder of AOIDE Bruce J. Wood has worked on Wall Street in business finance and strategy, and has written hundreds of finance business plans, strategic plans, economic feasibility studies, and economic impact studies. Bruce has lectured on creativity and strategic thinking, as well as worked on the development of numerous publishing, film, television, and performing arts projects, along with downtown revitalizations, using the arts as an economic catalyst. As an aficionado of music, art, and dance, Bruce is also a writer and an outdoor enthusiast. He has written poetry, blogs, articles, and many creative project concepts. He lives in the Metro Detroit area and enjoys writing poetry, backpacking, and ballroom dancing.

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