- Megan Bingham
The Headless Horseman rides tonight
Through stark and starless skies,
Shattering the silence with
His otherworldly cries.
He races through the darkness
On his alabaster steed,
The Headless Horseman rides tonight,
Wherever the fates would lead.
Jack Prelutsky has written much picturesque poetry, including the humorous collections Something Big Has Been Here and A Pizza the Size of the Sun. But, Prelutsky's poetry is not always funny. With Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep and the companion volume, The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight, he evokes 12 fantastic and gripping nightmares.
In the darkness, "beneath shifting sands, the mummy stirs within its sheath of rotten linen bands," waiting to unleash its fury. There will be "woe to those poor souls who cross the mummy's mindless path."
"The Towering Giant" awaits, to "grind you to crumbs, or crush you to powder," while "The Zombie" waits within your room and with it dwells your doom . . ." As you shiver and you scream, you know it's not a dream!
"The Kraken,"—how it lashes, how it thrashes, how it flashes! "Nothing living in the ocean can enjoy a moment's ease . . . for the Kraken has awakened at the bottom of the seas."
You won't want to meet the screaming banshee as she "calls from near the river's side, and calling, she'll not be denied." Pray that she does not come, and sleep until the morning light! And, you'll know it's a ghost when "something keeps flicking out the light," and "things unseen are rapping at the door." Scream with all your might because you have a poltergeist in your house tonight!
Last, but not least, Prelutsky writes of the title character, the Headless Horseman, who "rides upon the wind, galloping, galloping, galloping on out of the great oblivion." He embodies evil with "laughter on his breath" and rides the dark night in robes of black, dubbed the "minister of death."
With Arnold Lobel's haunting and grotesque drawings, The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight is reminiscent of scary childhood literature, such as the original Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and the original Headless Horseman story by Washington Irving. For this time of year, Jack Prelutsky's dark and devious poetry is perfect! Check out Perlutsky's Nightmares, as well.