Main content

A Collection of Fall Poems

Red maple leaves. Photo Credit: Jenny Goyne.

Fall in the Cold Hollow region. Photo Credit: Cold Hollow to Canada.

MISSING THE PROOF

reprinted with permission from The Perfect Heart (Mayapple Press, 2010)

In my own little world
I rush against the passing season
and try to get a start on the season coming:
winter cut wood for next winter;
springtime get the tiller going
haul manure and fence the garden right this time;
summer pull weeds and build a chicken coop;
fall stack wood and cut wood that didn't get cut last winter.

The sun inches lower in the sky each day,
and starts back up before winter is even half started,
season after season, eventually so far behind
winter finds me cutting wood one day to burn the next until
I build a fire to warm me in the woods
and burn what I cut so there's nothing to haul home
and in panic my family searches my flushed face
demanding me to prove I worked all day.

My young daughter sniffs where her nose reaches my belly
and remarks I smell like cutting wood
while my older son and wife look me in the eye
for a trace of lost confidence.
They have huddled at the stove all day waiting.
Perhaps tomorrow they will be cold enough to help,
but for the night we sleep in the same bed
under heaps of blankets pooled from our rooms. 

I dream of my own importance in life
until by some breach of common sense
I feel that I have been the constant
and the sun an incidental body on the run.

CHICKENS

reprinted with permission from The Perfect Heart (Mayapple Press, 2010)

And aren't those baby chicks
creatures of my acquiescence
letting a particularly broody banty hen
have some eggs to set?
Now she acts as if they're completely her
creation, even the rooster has to sneak
blessings to his heirs, and I 
get pecked for coming near.
Those chicks get down under her belly
and stay warm in that darkness,
sputtling over each other in morning
when I remove the raincoat
from their cage, the limits of their world
so far. I make their day begin
by letting sunlight in, and feed & water them.
They peek out from underneath
their banty's feathered underside and peep:
"Hey that's Him! I saw God's hand unveiling day!"
And I sit here, twelve hours later, August 26
8:30 p.m. Already the sun is down.
Yeah, winter's coming.
Darkness -- God! -- I hate to see it come.

THE DAMP OCTOBER

reprinted with permission from The Perfect Heart (Mayapple Press, 2010)

leaves fell in clumps
and browned before their brighter colors
could hold
I remember well the mud tracks
dragged across the floor,
dried to heavy dust by noon & swept out the door
puffing I shall return
bum's rush
we always think we got our dirt by the scruff
how we treat the heart
how we use soil as a verb

OFF THE LAND

reprinted with permission from The Perfect Heart (Mayapple Press, 2010)

Dear Will farmed it till he died
and lived with the widow, his daughter.
He was tall and painfully slow.
“You need even the small stones to build a fence,”
he said when the state closed his sawmill
for safety. He worked the only way permitted,
alone: So long as there’s no help involved
you can saw your hands off, it said in effect.
Is it Will’s brothers or his sons who inherited
the land they never farmed? The forests,
combed and spared. Wasn’t Will ever tempted
to cut the whole stand, or take one or two
of those extraordinary hemlocks?
Or maybe he did, in thinning, find the best wood.
What came when he died was his heirs
splitting the take: a big logging operation
clear cut the woods
and a realtor dumped the stripped land
shortly thereafter in ten acre lots.
The house and millpond sold to a young engineer.
Will’s gone. But I got a friend
to interview him and Scott wrote a song:
“Old Will Johnson died last year”
is how it starts out. I’m sad
when I think of how Will started
and look at my son who at four
likes air travel. I gape at my garden
remembering Will’s, the missing links between us.