Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

October 20, 2013

Lifelines: More than ghost stories on Halloween

One night late at Stone Circle a young woman told a story about her grandfather’s funeral, or rather the dinner at her grandparents’ house after the funeral. The place was in the country not far from a small town. Family and guests were gathered in the living room eating.

Someone noticed a medium-sized buck walk out of the woods. Everyone started watching. For some reason people never tire of watching deer. Normal conversation stopped.

The buck crossed the field, walked through the yard right up to the picture window. The animal put his face to the glass, and looked in at everybody for a long time. Then the buck turned and walked back across the yard and field into the woods.

The young woman who told the story believed it was her grandfather saying goodbye. A lot of her family members did too. That’s my ghost story for the upcoming Halloween.

“Devil’s Night” is a tale I used to hear my dad tell when I was growing up. I embellished the ending a little bit. Picasso once said, “Art is a lie that helps you see the truth.”

The last poem is one of my favorite Halloween love stories. It came out of the Elk Rapids Elders Project. Audrey Kaiser told it to two Elk Rapids High School girls, but I wrote the poem.

Poet Bard Terry Wooten has been performing and conducting writing workshops in schools for 29 years. He is also the creator of Stone Circle, a triple ring of boulders featuring poetry, storytelling and music on his property north of Elk Rapids. Learn more at


Devil’s Night

A deep ravine,

an old glacial scar,

cut through the east side of town.

It was full of trash

and discarded toys

that never made it to the village dump.

At the bottom

a poor little creek gurgled

through everybody’s stray garbage.

All the decent, upstanding trout

had moved out.

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