Archives for posts with tag: autumn

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fall break
Maine
by Jonathan Chan

at dusk the eyes begin to glaze, hemmed in by
the dense shroud of an unlit highway, no glimmer
in the mirrors left, right, or rear, faltering in the
stubborn stream of light and the passing flit of
strip after strip, brilliant flash of orange and red
fading in the last high beam of an endless road,
across the signs of stolen presence announcing

Bangor, Belfast, and Brighton, every leaf and rock,
each rising tide leaving only dregs of foam announcing
this form, processual and inchoate, seen at the cusp
of daybreak, a single mom-and-pop for miles and
miles, the tip of a lighthouse announcing a fortitude
closest to old worlds, and a riding back on the winds,
hands over metal bars stapled into stoic rock, hands

over each crag, photographs making known the
touristry of conquest, expanse of mountain and
forest held in ocular weight, the breath of something
old, something new, exhalations of awe so many
times over before the streaming from a beehive, or
another trail, where the land’s bones are never out
of joint and its heart is never frigid like wax.

PAINTING: Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine by Edward Hopper (1927).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In October 2021, while in graduate school, several of my friends and I decided to take a road trip from New Haven, Connecticut, up to Acadia National Park in Maine. The colours of fall were just beginning to descend upon New England and we shared the desire to behold the grand swathes of orange, red, and yellow along the highways and from the peaks of mountains. None of us had been to Acadia and we relished the opportunity to pass through Massachusetts and New Hampshire on our way up. The trip up involved the longest continuous periods I’d ever had to drive and pay attention to the road. I remember noticing the names of the smaller towns in Maine with some curiosity, each reflecting the name of somewhere else in the United Kingdom. The poem begins with our time on the road, moves through our time in Portland and Penobscot, and culminates with the grandeur we witnessed at Acadia. The trip provided a distinctive and singular memory, a time of wonder and relief from the pressures of school, one that I continue to hold close when I think back to my time as a graduate student.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Chan is a writer and editor of poems and essays. Born in New York to a Malaysian father and South Korean mother, he was raised in Singapore and educated at Cambridge and Yale Universities. He is the author of the poetry collection going home (Landmark, 2022). He has recently been moved by the work of Kevin Young, R. F. Kuang, and Alfian Sa’at. More of his writing can be found at jonbcy@wordpress.com and on Instagram at @fivefoundings.

maple leaves
Autumn Notes
by Joan McNerney

1.
Four sparkling maples
sashay in autumn winds.
dressed in yellow lace.

Half moon hiding in old
oak tree on top of hillside.

Children kicking up leaves
shouting while jumping
over mounds of foliage.

2.
Bright leaves gleaming
in sunshine tumbling
through an Alice blue sky.

Carpets of red yellow brown
foliage unfurls before us.

Walking through trails of trees
becoming spellbound by
leafy giants towering over us.

3.
Morning light reveals
silhouettes of branches
against a dove grey sky.

Grab your coat and scarf.
Where are your gloves and hat?

Hurry, pick gardens of bright
vegetables. Time to cook
big pots of soup, yeasty breads.

4.
Dancing in joyous circles
ragtag russet leaves glow
under the noon day sun.

See them spin rustle-bustle
within a ring of singsong.

Listen to their shuffle
saying they will return soon
dressed in bright green.

PHOTO: Maple leaves and trees by Adaenn (2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I cannot imagine a mall, a jewel, or an honor as great as seeing the beauty around us. Stop this endless wanting and striving … take what you need and just be.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines, including Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days. Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Journals, and numerous Poets’ Espresso Reviews have accepted her work. The recipient of four Best of the Net nominations, her latest titles are The Muse in Miniature and Love Poems for Michael  available on Amazon.com and Cyberwit.net.

Autumn Leaves O'Keeffe
Letting Go
by Anne Walsh Donnelly

It is cold and dry in Raheens Woods,
trees stretch their half-clad limbs
towards a patchy blue sky.
I look up and try to clear my mind
of the briars that steal September’s light.
I pluck a holly leaf from its bush,
run my finger along the smooth surface
until I reach the tip and blood drips.

Further into the woods, blankets of dense moss
hang from dank black branches.
I pick a sycamore leaf, the colour of an aubergine
from the stony path, put it in my pocket,
as I would a relic, comfort between my finger
and thumb, until ground into purple dust.

A breeze blows a mustard-coloured beech leaf
into my face, tears follow it to the earth.
I close my eyes to the heaving,
my breath a wave of silent wails.
I wrap my arms around the trunk of an oak,
press my heart against the dark bark,
and ask it to help me let go of the withering
leaves littering the floor of my Autumn heart.

PAINTING: Yellow Leaves by Georgia O’Keeffe (1928). (Copyright, Brooklyn Museum, 2006)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I go to the woods for comfort and guidance and I trust the healing power of nature. I watched Autumn leaves fall from the trees and realised that trees willingly let go of that which is withering to make way for new growth. I wrapped my arms around an oak asking it to take from me what I don’t need any more and give me what I do need. I went home to write this poem and realised how nature and humanity are interconnected and how we both have the potential to heal or destroy each other.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland. She was recently appointed as Poet Laureate for the town of Belmullet in County Mayo. Her full-length poetry collection, Odd as F*ck, was published in May 2021 by Fly on the Wall Poetry Press, which also published her poetry chapbook, The Woman With An Owl Tattoo. To find out more, visit annewdonnelly.com.

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Sonnet from Ecclesiastes:
            Ecclesiastes I:9
by Barbara Crooker

There’s nothing new under the sun,
says the prophet, the leaves turning
brilliant colors right on time, one
of the things I love about the fall, this burning
without fire. Unbroken blue skies, home
of harvest, of plenty, combine blades churning
out rivers of golden corn. Our sojourn
on this earth, so brief. But I cannot play dumb,
Storms are more violent, thousand-year floods
more frequent, and the government turns
a blind eye to misery and need. How can we let
it all slip through our fingers? Whiplashed by the moods
of politicians, their fistfuls of cash. Winter will return.
Will we see another spring? I will not be silent.

First published in Relief, 2020

PAINTING: In the Autumn Mist by Tetyana Yablonska (1989).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’d been asked to write something on Ephesians for a specific project. The day I started this poem, my mind must have been off with the fairies, as they say in Ireland, because I went to Ecclesiastes instead. All of the other concerns in the poem were swirling around my mind , large concerns that emerged within the confines of this sonnet. I use “emerged” loosely, as it went through twenty or more drafts. In terms of healing the world, I’m hoping, with this poem, to invite  readers to pay close attention to the natural world, to raise awareness about climate change, and to encourage everyone to speak up (and vote) to keep our beautiful planet going.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Crooker is the author of nine books of poetry:  Radiance, winner of the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance ( 2008), winner of the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature; More (2010); Gold (2013); Small Rain (2014); Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems (2015), Les Fauves (2017), The Book of Kells (2018), winner of the 2018 Best Poetry Book Award, Poetry by the Sea; and Some Glad Morning (2019), Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press. Her writing has received a number of awards, including the WB Yeats Society of New York Award (Grace Schulman, judge), the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award (Stanley Kunitz, judge), and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. Her work appears in journals and anthologies, including Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania and The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Her work has been read on The Writer’s Almanac, and she has been an invited reader at The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Poetry by the Sea, the SoCal Poetry Festival, Poetry @ Round Top, The Festival of Faith and Writing, and the Library of Congress. Visit her and find links to her books at barbaracrooker.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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“Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life… a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year…” 

RAY STANNARD BAKER (1870-1946), one of the first investigative journalists, who also wrote books for children under the pseudonym DAVID GRAYSON

Drawing: “Harvest Moon,” pastel by Jamie Pitts, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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THE WAY THE LEAVES KEEP FALLING
by Linda Pastan

It is November
and morning — time to get to work.
I feel the little whip
of my conscience flick
as I stand at the window watching
the great harvest of leaves.
Across the street my neighbor,
his leaf blower already roaring,
tries to make order
from the chaos of fading color.
He seems brave and a bit foolish.
It is almost tidal, the way
the leaves keep falling
wave after wave to earth.

In Eden there were
no seasons, and sometimes
I think it was the tidiness
of that garden
Eve hated, all the wooden tags
with the new names of plants and trees.
Still, I am Adam’s child too
and I like order, though
the margins of my poems
are ragged, and I stand here
all morning watching the leaves.

Credit: “The Way the Leaves Keep Falling” appears in Linda Pastan‘s collection Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998 (W.W. Norton & Co., 1999). Find the book at Amazon.com.

Photo: “Falling red maple leaves, Boone County, Missouri” From the postcard book: Sierra Club Nature in Close-Up. ©Gay Bumgarner,1988, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Contact the photographer at her website gaybumgarner.comFind the 160-page book at Amazon here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Pastan has published at least 12 books of poetry and a number of essays. Her awards include the Dylan Thomas Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award (Poetry Society of America), the Bess Hokin Prize (Poetry Magazine), the 1986 Maurice English Poetry Award (for A Fraction of Darkness), the Charity Randall Citation of the International Poetry Forum, and the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Two of her collections of poems were nominated for the National Book Award and one for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. From 1991–1995 she was Poet Laureate of Maryland. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

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IN NOVEMBER
By Lisel Mueller

Outside the house the wind is howling
and the trees are creaking horribly.
This is an old story
with its old beginning,
as I lay me down to sleep.
But when I wake up, sunlight
has taken over the room.
You have already made the coffee
and the radio brings us music
from a confident age. In the paper
bad news is set in distant places.
Whatever was bound to happen
in my story did not happen.
But I know there are rules that cannot be broken.
Perhaps a name was changed.
A small mistake. Perhaps
a woman I do not know
is facing the day with the heavy heart
that, by all rights, should have been mine.

PHOTO: “Autumn Trees” by Bert Kaufman.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lisel Mueller was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1924 and immigrated to America at the age of 15. She graduated from the University of Evansville (Indiana) in 1944 and has taught at the University of Chicago, Elmhurst College in Illinois, and Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. Mueller currently resides in a retirement community in Chicago. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

 

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SOLITUDE LATE AT NIGHT IN THE WOODS
by Robert Bly

The body is like a November birch facing the full moon
And reaching into the cold heavens.
In these trees there is no ambition, no sodden body, no leaves,
Nothing but bare trunks climbing like cold fire!
 
My last walk in the trees has come.  At dawn
I must return to the trapped fields,
To the obedient earth.
The trees shall be reaching all the winter.
 
It is a joy to walk in the bare woods.
The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves.
The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth,
Giving off the odor that partridges love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Bly (born1926) is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the mythopoetic men’s movement. His most commercially successful book to date was Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), a key text of the mythopoetic men’s movement, which spent 62 weeks on the The New York Times Best Seller list. He won the 1968National Book Award for Poetry for his book The Light Around the Body. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: “Full moon rising through birch tree forest” by Paul Pluskwik, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

deer honorable and bold
MY AUTUMN LEAVES
by Bruce Weigl

I watch the woods for deer as if I’m armed.
I watch the woods for deer who never come.
I know the hes and shes in autumn
rendezvous in orchards stained with fallen
apples’ scent. I drive my car this way to work
so I may let the crows in corn believe
it’s me their caws are meant to warn,
and snakes who turn in warm and secret caves

they know me too. They know the boy
who lives inside me still won’t go away.
The deer are ghosts who slip between the light
through trees, so you may only hear the snap
of branches in the thicket beyond hope.
I watch the woods for deer, as if I’m armed.

 Photo by Honorable and Bold. 

“My Autumn Leaves” is found in My Unraveling Strangeness, Bruce Weigl’s 2002 poetry collection from Grove Press. Find the book at Amazon.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Weigl entered the U.S. Army at age 18 and served in Vietnam for one year, beginning in December 1967. He was awarded the Bronze Star and returned to his hometown of Lorain, Ohio. He earned his BA at Oberlin College, his MA at the University of New Hampshire, and his PhD at the University of Utah. Weigl is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, including The Unraveling Strangeness (2002), Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems (1999), and After the Others (1999). Weigl has won the Robert Creeley Award, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Poet’s Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Cleveland Arts Prize, and two Pushcart Prizes. Song of Napalm (1998) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He has also been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Yaddo Foundation. His latest work, Among Elms in Ambush, will be released on September 14, 2021.

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BEYOND THE RED RIVER
By Thomas McGrath

The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass
Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion,
Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.
 
A month ago, from the salt engines of the sea,
A machinery of early storms rolled toward the holiday houses
Where summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs, sipping
An aging whiskey of distances and departures.
 
Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark.

“Beyond the Red River” appears in Thomas McGrath‘s Selected Poems 1938-1988 (Copper Canyon Press, 1988).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Matthew McGrath (1916-1990) was a celebrated American poet. McGrath grew up on a farm in Ransom County, North Dakota, and earned a B.A. from the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. He served in the Aleutian Islands with the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, and was later awarded a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. McGrath also pursued postgraduate studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He taught at Colby College in Maine and at Los Angeles State College, from which he was dismissed in connection with his appearance, as an unfriendly witness, before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1953. Later he taught at North Dakota State University, and Minnesota State University, Moorhead.  McGrath wrote mainly about his own life and social concerns. His best-known work is Letter to an Imaginary Friend published in sections between 1957 and 1985 and as a single poem in 1997 by Copper Canyon Press. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: “Red leaf in pool by river” by S. Mammoser, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED