This week’s poem, “My Brother’s Thirteenth Halloween,” conjures not just this season’s ghoulishly fun thrills and jump scares, but also the deeper feelings of remembering our dead. I love this poem’s vivid images of childhood spooks and tricks, and how gently it then reframes them as memories of a still-living brother.

Ken Craft’s poems have appeared in “The Writer’s Almanac,” “Spillway,” “South Florida Poetry Journal,” “Pedestal Magazine” and other journals and e-zines. He is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently “Reincarnation & Other Stimulants” (Kelsay Books, 2021). He lives in Wells.

Poets, please note that submissions to Deep Water are open through the end of the year. Deep Water is especially eager to share poems by Black writers, writers of color, indigenous writers, LGBTQ+ writers, and other underrepresented voices. You’ll find a link to submit in the credits below.

My Brother’s Thirteenth Halloween

By Ken Craft

That was the year our neighbor, Cherie, came over
and popped red wax lips into her mouth. Chastely
she kissed you with them, bro, not knowing that time would
leave its lipstick on your cheek. This was when death
was a plaything, an end-of-October thing. The R.I.P.
headstones Mom bought for the front lawn. The dancing
skeletons, joints jumpy with a string that lent us control.
The black-caped possibilities of being pretend dead.
Pale cuspids. Pulsing necks. Silver thrills from passing
mirrors and only seeing couch and lamps look back.
Remember? You and me alive as a team, bro?
Still young under the masks, still invincible, still in a place
where nothing could touch us, not even the approaching
Day of the Dead, not even the nights I’d travel to get there?

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. DEEP WATER: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “My Brother’s Thirteenth Halloween,” copyright 2021 by Ken Craft, is reprinted from Reincarnation & Other Stimulants (Kelsay Books). It appears by permission of the author. Submissions to Deep Water are open now and through the end of the year. For more information, go to



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