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Slice one in half, the cliff edge 

cleanness of the cut; slice it again, 

each piece the thin end of the wedge. 


We built a pile built to topple: 

snaggers to us, not neeps or swedes, 

all stolen from the fields, their purple- 


reds as brutish as the farmer’s face 

if he’d caught us. The shed was stuffy 

with the smell of tar, a hiding place 


a single bulb brought closer 

in around us. I liked the smell of them 

at Halloween, the long, black smoulder 


when they got too close to the candle. 

They were the autumn, the dark, rooting 

nights before the winter. Perfect, purple 


bowls, as heavy as conclusions in my 

hand, and wilful that night in the shed, 

defeating every effort to stack them high, 


rolling woefully away across the floor. 

No pumpkin buffoon would do for us. 

We scalped our snaggers, scooped out the core 


and fashioned offerings to the old gods. 

I can still feel the weight of one, a heavy bonce, 

how the mulberry coloured birthmark showed 


through, the sickly-sweet smell of burning flesh; 

how, disembodied, it became ominously 

more than itself – nightmare clown, omphalos. 


Next morning I lifted the lid on one cold clod 

and found it bombed out, the candle fused. 

Now we were both smoke damaged goods. 

◄ 1963



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Tony Hill

Mon 16th Nov 2020 08:25

Hi Ray. I always loved the dark nights, still do if the truth be told. Too old to go snaggering these days, though I'm sorely tempted. Tony

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Sun 15th Nov 2020 16:37

Almost shades of Ted Hughes in the descriptiveness. Beautiful work sculptural. So glad you've left a trail on here!


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Tony Hill

Fri 30th Oct 2020 10:23

That made me chuckle, John. Often wondered whether the word snaggers is exclusive to my little patch in the northeast. Tony

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John Coopey

Fri 30th Oct 2020 09:57

You never know what gems this site will turn ip.

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Rose Casserley

Thu 29th Oct 2020 19:17

I'm crossing myself with holy water while reading this spooker!

th-th-th-th-thanks-ss for th-th-th-th this Tony 😈

R-R-R-Rose 💋

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Stephen Atkinson

Thu 29th Oct 2020 19:07

😄 I can imagine they would decline Tony, it's spooky enough at dusk on a normal day!

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Tony Hill

Thu 29th Oct 2020 18:13

Pleased you like the poem, Stephen. Many years ago when my daughter and nephew were quite young, my brother and I hung a lantern about a hundred yards into a dark part of Castle Eden Dene (Dene House side). We then invited the kids to walk into the dene as far as the lantern, alone naturally. They declined. I must admit it did look menacing, hence the penultimate verse. Tony

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Stephen Atkinson

Thu 29th Oct 2020 18:03

Aye, Tony, had a few snaggers back in the day. The aroma of candle wax & burning turnip! Don't think I even knew what a pumpkin was back then

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Tony Hill

Thu 29th Oct 2020 15:42

Glad you like the poem, Greg. At this time or year we would go snaggering - stealing turnips from gardens and fields. Mea culpa. Tony

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Greg Freeman

Thu 29th Oct 2020 15:23

Wonderfully atmospheric, Tony. 'Snaggers', eh? 'Nightmare clown' ... tiptoeing on the edge of Hollywood horror!

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