The last warm day of the year
The October sun rests on a loblolly pine.
Late afternoon, slight breeze. River
of leaves sliding along the street side.
I am too old, says the sun, for this: I get
up later every day and I’m tired earlier.
The pine squints at the sun’s single ring
of fire: Try having as many rings as I do
says the pine. Try living in full seasons
instead of skating above it all. Try,
just once, standing still.
November hymnal (1)
Now is the blowing song of leaf lidded
lips lifted to the sky in the color that
knows love leaves. Now is the open
your books to page reach for me in
your dreams eyes. Now is the parting
from the family tree. Now the figure
eights of indeterminate holding,
Now golden combs in the air, now
the squirrel sprinting beneath the
carriage of wheels at the hour
That disappears and returns to
The hour before. That brings sun
Down at the third cup of coffee.
–then everything else which turns off at night
is the switch that turns on the crickets
is there a thing at all in cricketsong
that means I remember
that bridges the slow heaving wave
of frozen ground between years
is there anything
by which they know they go on
do they need to when they hear
with their legs by which they leap only forward
and sing with their wings which cannot take them backward
what else must a cricket do to prove it needs
behind my house at night I forget
I am in a city the song is so loud
like the earth breathing in and out
the owl marking his territory in the pitch dark
is absorbed into the song it seems impossible
there could be as many crickets on the ground
as there are cricket voices in the air
till the sun climbs over a rock and shuts them off
in the morning which is the switch
for ten thousand starlings to fill the space
with another season–
A week in the new house and we’re hearing and seeing things.
Black walnut trees scatter the light. Yellow leaves falling early
and long, through August and September. A few nights ago
someone banging around downstairs woke me up.
At my desk I hear a heavy foot take two strides in the room above
then stop. The room is as empty as a rationale.
One of my dogs is going to die. Almost a reminder of himself.
Behind the house I’m walking beside him in the cooling world
when a walnut pod, size of a baseball, smacks off the eave, bounces
and resounds on the porch’s tin roof. So there they are, my ghosts,
and so many left to fall, real despite what I believe or don’t, reminders,
inconsequential and eventually crumbling within softening husks
but for the moment so hard you’d have to drive a pickup truck
over them to hear a few of them crack open the inedible fruit.
In the bonfire I see something that would eat even death.
So death must not be made of air after all.
I see summer’s bones smoldering long after the flame.
The seasons curled like scrolls of verse around each other collapse.
We have one of these every month, the landowner tells me.
Just from the stuff that falls away.
The one who stands in darkness while the other watches the sun set
will be walking in the morning sun while the other kicks off a fitful dream.
At a certain point it will make sense to gather fallen branches.
To dream wide awake of a motion that will eat even death.
Through a window, December night after rain
Negative space of roof and branches
are defined by the rising moon, crow-sized
negative image of the crow’s solid eye. Just the other
day, a young pileated woodpecker stood
right where the moon is tonight, as bright,
exactly as big, cartoonish, sounding like a monkey
afraid of the moon in the leafless branches
November Mountain Scene
Deer have ventured out through thinning trees
into thickening traffic. Men in trucks gentle them
to the breakdown lane with shovels. The last leaf’s
twisting stem is the voice of the deer in November.
Before the Fall
In the summer night’s coolness walnuts are dropping
on roofs cars earth with sharp reports and thuds
In the morning they punctuate the early September light
their husks green round unbroken on the ground ending
all the invisible sentences on the season’s last pages