For Fall

The ripe, the golden month has come again…

                                     — Thomas Wolfe

October. Crisp evenings. Bonfires. The brilliant blaze of autumn leaves.

Here in Florida, not so much. Summer will soon be over, and hurricane and love bug season will have passed. It may still be hot here, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the same season of pumpkin spice in our lattes, store bought chrysanthemums, and on Halloween night, trick-or-treaters who will be wearing sandals instead of jackets.

Growing up in Virginia, fall was the best. Our apple and pear trees left fruit on the ground, a sharp, melancholy scent that drew bees. The days grew shorter, the light, softer. Of course, there were the shimmering valleys of the Shenandoah, but I was lucky enough to have a sugar maple right outside of my bedroom window. I could hear its leaves rustle, watch them spill over into the most riotous of reds– the brief and collective lifeblood of summer easing into the wind. 

I’ve included an autumn poem I wrote which was inspired from a news headline some years ago.

With that said, here’s to this tilt of hemisphere. To all things pungent in their skins. To the thistled over and the goosed downed and the cindered. To patterns of migration. To surfaces gone stark enough to echo. Here’s to “Fall…begging us to dance and sing and write with just the same drama and blaze.” (Shauna Niequest)

Family Lost in a Corn Maze

It wasn’t till they noticed the twitching

shadows had eclipsed their path that they began

to worry. Tromping through the split

crop in spirals that had no point

of origination, no flailing ends

from which to exit into the stubbled pasture

where they’d started, where

surely someone would be

shouting for them. Here.

We’re over here. Horizonless,

they wished for

the north star amid constellations

kerneled in silk and shuck. Stalks

so dense they could stifle a scream.

Pumpkins and straw bales,

(sometimes the same ones)

rendered into cubes and spheres

by the fading light & artfully arranged

against the random splay

of convex and converse, this quiet

nuance of peeve to panic. Moon,

the gleam of a dull-bladed sickle.

They could eat the corn if they got hungry

enough, fold the stems to the ground,

trample a plea across this kindling-dry

labyrinth stoked with straw bodies.

But when the children began to cry,

the walls tightened and hissed, admonishing:

Shhh…shh, my darlings, remember this—

that echo you hear is just a circle

opening wider; nothing’s ghosting—

just the dark gulp of soil, where your words lie

smothered whole and buried in syllables.

September’s Poetry Palette

Paint Chip Poetry—

Paint Chip Poetry 3

We had a colorful workshop yesterday at the Leesburg Library creating poetry using paint chips! Aside from being such a powerful expression visually, color itself is personal. It brings up memories, emotions, and senses that are unique to each of us. Color fleshes out what is penciled in lightly; it gives perspective and creates mood. It makes images rise and float, or become so thick and nourishing, you need a spoon.

In “Color in Poetry,” Dorothy Lasky says, “Color is special because there is no way to pin it down. It has a live wire that illuminates its frequency. Of course, a poem does that, too.”

One of my favorite poets who made such deft use of color was Anya Silver (there’s even color in her name!) Yesterday, I shared some examples of color in her poetry:

On her childhood:  “…my sister and I floated upright in the mountain’s green shadow.”

On fireflies: “To me they were traces of magic/ in the ordinary dusk, like the beauty you find in the surprised faces/ of girls, or in the gold coins that tumble from saints’ open mouths.”

On her cancer’s tragic return: “(I) wore the word survivor like pink nimbus…all the while knowing you’d catch up to me one day. I’m holding the black backed mirror to your face. Look into it.”

In our workshop, we chose the colors and the fabulous creative names of colors on the paint chips to which we were drawn, and then we processed them through our own sensory experiences, memories, and emotions. Some amazing poetry came through as well as beginnings to stories that have been waiting to be written!

Paint Chip Poetry 1

More for Fall:

There’s an open mic every third Sunday at W.T. Bland Library in Mount Dora at 4:00 P.M. Please come and join in this wonderful and varied venue of poetic expression!Joe again

Last but not least, my book of Lake County poems from Bell Ring Books is now available!

Poetry is alive and well in Lake County! Stay tuned for lots of events happening throughout the fall and beyond.