A touch of cold in the Autumn night
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded;
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.
by T. E. Hulme (1883–1917)
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim
Of Parchment Scored
Old leaves litter
the forest floor,
by a season’s hand;
each crinkled skin,
mustard and wine,
olive and gold,
as wizards and sages
gather a millennium’s
across a page’s
wrinkles and ink,
of loss, hanging the solemn
passages of autumn
on the refrigerator door,
the stories mommy
and daddy must learn.
by S. Thomas Summers
Editor’s Note: This poem encapsulates autumn, the history of writing, and the beginning of literacy… and then it somehow ties all of this into the emotional trauma of parenthood.
Late Night B Movie
Colossus in a tub with model ships,
the lizard-suited actor runs amok.
Waves sweep plastic soldiers off the dock
as subtitles outpace staccato lips
of jut-jawed admirals wearing rented suits
who cover ears in pantomimes of noise
to prove the tanks and missiles aren’t toys,
while teenaged extras counterfeit salutes.
In the darkness, I remember when
each thing from Monster Island had a name.
The screen light flicker imitates a flame:
Tokyo the phoenix burns again.
by Ed Shacklee
Ed on Facebook
Editor’s Note: I confess, I adore action flicks of all kinds. This sonnet spoke to me of flickering black and white screens and plastic terror.
Remodeling My Daughter’s Room
All the kitsch—pheasant feathers poking out
a top hat, hammered metal plates
made to look like silhouettes,
mustard and rose dresser with blue china pulls,
the carved black walnut desk with photos
of pebbles wet from a recent wave
and your mother wading in emerald water,
vinyl albums gathered from yard sales
for cover art of long-haired men
with cowboy mustaches and banjos—all goes.
I move a wall to make a homogenous room
that will accommodate any guest,
but that light, that early morning share of sunshine
like a slice of lemon straddling the curve
of a plain glass of water, that light remains.
I paint the room a darker blue,
hang curtains of tan cotton,
stain hardwoods with golden honey,
but each time I enter the light restores,
and you are with me lacing up boots
for a hike in the forest, or running shoes
to go on the wild and diminishing trail.
by Jeff Burt
Editor’s Note: This poem seems like a straightforward narrative reflection, until the reader realizes that the missing character, the narrator’s daughter, drives the emotional movement of the imagery. Life is very much not a static experience and this poem emphasizes that beautifully.
He calls at work to say
he’s bringing a spider home. Not even
my favorite after-work drive
through darkened streets lit with living-
room lamps and red tail lights pulling
into driveways coaxes me this time to relax
and let the universe in. (Which is why we need
a tarantula, he had said before I disconnected.)
Now, still buttoned in my parka and laced
in my boots, I wrap my I’m-back hug
around his neck as he teeters on a stool
talking to Cookiegirl in his sleepy
voice. With tutu motion she hesitates,
then eases from his hand to climb about his chest.
Such delicate stallion steps. I try to pull away
when she regards me and my mittens.
Take them off and stroke her fur, he whispers
to my fear. See, he teases, how she laces
rosy ballet slippers halfway up each thigh? I bite
my lip and nibble on my list: sirens, wrecks, test results, giving
into trust. A car drives by. Cookiegirl shrinks. I slip
off a mitten and bare my skin. Invite
the world in.
by Sherry O’Keefe, first published in Making Good Use of August.
Editor’s Note: The funny title at first leads one to expect an amusing poem, but by they end of the first stanza one realizes that these lines have more to do than to simply make readers smile. By the last line, one realizes the possibilities inherent in inviting the world inside, and sometimes this begins with a pet spider.
In my yard a forest
of seedlings sprouts among
the blades of grass,
in the fissures and canyons
of the driveway,
between the pavers,
weaving into the chain link fence.
I pluck them,
imagining they could someday
shove aside the car
upheave the pavement
and lift my house into the
within each flimsy shoot:
the shade it will cast,
its autumn color
and bare winter branches.
when I lean in very close I see
flying branch to branch,
spiraling the slender trunks,
building tree forts and there –
a tiny woman and her tinier dog
are walking in the shade.
After a while
she pauses and rests
her back against the smooth green
and gazes up into the blue
of my eye.
at the big beautiful world
while her tiny dog whines
for her to keep
by Gwen E Owen
Editor’s Note: A surreal poem feels appropriate for the surreal beauty of this autumn season.
Thirst for Rain
Waiting for deliverance of the package of life:
a box holding the truth our truths are about —
the feet suck to the ground as if they had
a choice, a fly’s gymnastics more graceful
and only slightly less erratic or brief;
the eyes blink at the sun and peer into
the threat of shadow; the hands shape things
because they must, the compulsion to build
for that which is capable of building, the way
termites are sentenced to erecting mounds.
Life like hands cupped and raised to a sky
from which the rain is always ready to fall.
But we want what makes the water thunder
on the hard parched earth and the thick mud:
the maker of rain; the form of the first drop
that poised like a star and rushed downward;
the thirst for water that was always meant only for us.
from Autumn Sky Poetry 2 — by JB Mulligan
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim