Japanese Maple in Late November

japanese-maple

Leaves fall,

uncloaking the grand oak.

The cricket’s song

drifts away with the breeze.

But the delicate Japanese maple

remains glorious and resplendent.

*

Lying under a charcoal sky,

leaves falling like memories of time past,

I turn my head and see you

in the distance.

You-the ruby-haired queen

standing on the rampart

watching battle weary soldiers fall.

And I understand hope.

 

Originally posted on Quirk N Jive on May 22, 2015

 

 

The Warden’s House

 

AutumnDeath&Dreams

The hill

Four houses

Forest behind

Fields ahead

A dead end

The horizon

A prison

That place

Autumn

Dead leaves

Bare trees

My mother

Speaking in tongues

The flames of hell

The flame of the spirit

Secrets and stories

Legends of the dead

Bones in the woods

Sounds in the night

An insomniac child

Wide awake

Midnight rapping on the door

Something crashing to the floor

The dog atop the stairs

Snarling

The house next door

Looming

Once inside

A cavernous red room

A feeling of doom

Something wrong

Innocence knows

A dry fountain in back

Some toads

Chirping of crickets

Honking of geese

The noisy silence of death

The song to which demons dance

Peaking in windows

Smashing down gates

The song of that place

On the hill

Where the Warden’s house stood.

*

Just the other night

I visited that house

In my dream

The red room

The living room

The basement door

I saw it all

All that dwelled there then

All that dwells there now

In my dreams

Of that house

On that hill

In that place

Where dead leaves fall

in the eerie silence

of a haunted past

 

This poem was originally posted in October 2015 as “The Neighbor’s House.” 

Contrasts

img_3752-contrasts

Dark, Light

Cruel, Kind

The juxtaposition of the golden maple with this gray November sky-

the leaves illuminated, not by light

not by anything other than the contrast between her and the ashen curtain in front of which she stands.

Like this long ride through the country to see you.

The fear of what lies ahead.

The sadness of what is.

Perhaps it is the contrast between what I see

and what I feel

that makes this landscape so beautiful

that makes these trees so magical

that brings the awareness that in the darkness

there is light.

 

 

Autumn Writing

There is something about the season of fall that lends itself to writing.  I can think of many reasons why this is, but, for me, it is the quiet.

Summer with her symphony of fireworks and lawn mowers has ended, and now we are left with the gentle whispers of  crickets as they pass from this place to another. We are now left in the stillness of a season that comes between the summer’s obligatory happiness and the winter holidays’ forced merriment.

Autumn seems to grant the writer permission to feel deeply and express the broad range of emotions that we sometimes subconsciously suppress. It allows us to be present amidst the great beauty of amber and gold leaves as they fall to the ground, to sense the nervous excitement of the animals as they rush to gather the food required for survival during the long winter and to feel the sadness that comes from the loss of life that once thrived  in the warmth and light of summer.

I hope that this fall yields you a bountiful harvest of writing-poems, stories, songs, posts, articles.  For me, throughout this month of November I will be posting new and older pieces inspired by the season.

Happy writing!

An October Morning

img_3719-october-morning

Fear finds you at night.

It rushes under your skin

and makes its way towards your heart

where it constricts,

slowly strengthening its grip

like a thread tied around a finger-

pulling, making it ache

until the finger pulsates.

The tip, increasing in size,

turns purple.

So the heart

caught in fear

pounds upon the door of sleep

and awakens you, the dreamer

who, finding yourself cold and wet,

must now decide whether or not to rise.

You must decide

whether you should try to rest in a dream where fear waits outside the gates of sleep

or awake to a nightmare

or, perhaps, awake to life.

You get up-coffee, face, teeth, dress.

You walk outside into a gray October morning,

quiet-but for the crickets chirping, singing their desperate song,

hoping that if their voices continue so too will they

or, if the song is beautiful enough, at least the memory of them will remain.

You see that the trees are losing their leaves

and you catch sight of one golden maple leaf

floating to the ground,

the curtain closing upon its final act.

You listen and -in the silence of the early morning-

you hear it land.

You feel the closure

that comes from hearing a last breath,

that comes from bearing witness to one reach his final resting place.

And you feel strong.

You are alive.

Still alive.

 

 

 

 

 

Late Autumn Visit to an Old New England Home

The quaint New England village

in mid-October.

Antique shops, country stores.

White-steepled churches

set against the backdrop

of fall’s spectacular display

of crimson and gold foliage.

And the old New England home.

Her porch adorned with cornstalks and pumpkins.

Her flowerbeds full of yellow and rust-colored mums.

Arrogantly she stands.

She knows her admirers.

How they delight in her unassuming

beauty.

So simple.

Tasteful.

Smart.

She leaves her admirers to wonder

whether she is listed in the registry

of historic homes.

No one

not even she

acknowledges that her charms will fade

with the dropping of the leaves.

*

Be patient.

Wait a bit.

Four weeks perhaps.

Then visit again.

This time

go on in.

Meet her.

Push open the door that doesn’t quite want to give.

She’s not easy, you know.

Hear the creak of the plank floor as you step inside.

Smell the mothballs

and the scent of doorknobs

touched too many times

by so many hands

that the odor

that’s permeated their surfaces

can never be removed.

Smell the faint aroma

of dried out pot roasts

from dinners that stole away days.

Feel the lifeless still

of 4:00

on a Sunday afternoon

in November.

Sit in the chair by the window

and see the world

from that filmy view.

The gray sky.

The skeleton trees.

Now, turn your gaze back inside

and watch the dust

dance

in the late autumn sun

that streaks tauntingly through the glass.

And watch

as a single particle

settles itself atop one of the many knickknacks

that sits lazily

upon the mantel.

Hear the clock.

Each tick

reminding you

of how very long

a day can be.

In the sickening stillness

feel the unbearable loneliness.

Catch your breath.

Breathe in deeply.

Push the air past

the knot

in your throat.

As you sit, feel the house.

The weight

of her past.

So close, really.

What’s 200 years?

Certainly not enough time

for the departed

to resign themselves

to their fate.

The House Next Door

The hill

Four houses

Forest behind

Fields ahead

A dead end

The horizon

A prison

That place

Autumn

Dead leaves

Bare trees

My mother

Speaking in tongues

The flames of hell

The flame of the spirit

Secrets and stories

Legends of the dead

Bones in the woods

Sounds in the night

An insomniac child

Wide awake

Midnight rapping on the door

Something crashing to the floor

The dog atop the stairs

Snarling

The house next door

Looming

Once inside

A cavernous red room

A feeling of doom

Something wrong

Innocence knows

A dry fountain in back

Some toads

Chirping of crickets

Honking of geese

The noisy silence of death

The song to which demons dance

Peaking in windows

Smashing down gates

The song of that place

On the hill

Where the Warden’s house stood.

*

Just the other night

I visited that house

In my dream

The red room

The living room

The basement door

I saw it all

All that dwelled there then

All that dwells there now

In my dreams

Of that house

On that hill

In that place

Where dead leaves fall

in the eerie silence

of a haunted past

The Season of Death and Dreams

AutumnDeath&Dreams

It astonishes me how one season can be both profoundly beautiful and profoundly sad.  When I was ten years old my family moved from a small industrial city to prison housing in a rural farming community.  At the time, my father was the assistant warden of a maximum security prison, and high level staff and their families were expected to live on the grounds.  Although we made the move in late August, for me, my seven years there are frozen in autumn.  Our home, one of four, was set upon a hill.  In back of our house-forest. In front of our house-fields. And if you looked past those fields, you could see a medium security prison looming on the horizon.  It was an isolating and lonely existence, and, no matter how beautiful the landscape was, for a child used to a neighborhood and city kids, it was, well, sad.  In my memory the sky was always gray, the trees always bare and the ground always covered in a blanket of the decomposing remains of what was once vibrant foliage.  What strikes me most, however, is the perennial sound of honking geese.  Prior to our move, I think it is possible that I had never before heard geese much less seen them flying overhead in V formation.  But there, in that place, geese were omnipresent, honking, flying overhead, reminding me that I was a stranger trapped in a place that they were escaping from, if not forever, at least for the impending winter.

As I have grown older, I have learned to truly appreciate and, in many ways, love the fall.  Fall is now a time of beautiful traditions-apple and pumpkin picking, hiking and collecting leaves while watching beams of sunlight shoot through tree branches, already majestic and adorned in gold.  I look to my children to teach me lessons in optimism.  They jump for joy into piles of dead leaves while happily awaiting the first snow to arrive and cover naked branches in crystal that shimmers in the light of the winter moon.

I guess it’s a matter of age and perspective.  It is so easy to allow deep sorrow born from past experience to rob us of the happiness that comes from enjoying the beauty of the life we now lead.  For me, I prefer to march on through dead leaves and enjoy hearing them crunch underfoot as I move on ahead.

Creative Reawakening in Autumn

photo.JPGRedGreenYellowLeaves

It is a strange irony that, as the leaves prepare to fall from their branches and crumble to dust, the world seems to come alive.  Gone, finally, is the lethargy of long hot days. 

photo.JPGNHSOrangeTree

We are moved by autumn’s enchantments.

photo.JPGleavesonground

The cool air takes on a particular scent unique to the fall.  It is both hearty and sweet, a mix of pine, apples, leaves trampled underfoot and the lingering fragrance of summer flowers. 

photo.JPGNHSYellowTree

Our spirits stir with the shift of the season.  We are moved by a feeling of  excitment and a sense of foreboding.  Now is the time when our creativity reemerges from the its long summer slumber when frivolity and amusement seemed to overtake and suppress our artistic urges. 

photo.JPGRedTree

Now is the time to feel comfortably conflicted.  We cling onto life in the face of impending death.  As we are overwhelmed by the magestic beauty of orange and crimson leaves, we are cognizant of what is yet to come.  As winter closes in upon us, we look to the heavens and we are gifted with a shot of the sun’s glorious rays filtering through golden leaves and capturing fall’s ineffable beauty. 

photo.JPGYellowLeavesSunI

And, as we journey onward, we beseech our muses for inspiration so that we may find peace in creating during those long, dark days of winter. 

photo.JPGAutumnWalk