Saturday, October 14, 2006


Some October Poems

"October Dawn"

October is marigold, and yet
A glass half full of wine left out

To the dark heaven all night, by dawn
Has dreamed a premonition

Of ice across its eye as if
The ice-age had begun its heave.

The lawn overtrodden and strewn
From the night before, and the whistling green

Shrubbery are doomed. Ice
Has got its spearhead into place.

First a skin, delicately here
Restraining a ripple from the air;

Soon plate and rivet on pond and brook;
Then tons of chain and massive lock

To hold rivers. Then, sound by sight
Will Mammoth and Sabre-tooth celebrate

Reunion while a fist of cold
Squeezes the fire at the core of the world,

Squeezes the fire at the core of the heart,
And now it is about to start.

--Ted Hughes


"A Letter in October"

Dawn comes later and later now,
and I, who only a month ago
could sit with coffee every morning
watching the light walk down the hill
to the edge of the pond and place
a doe there, shyly drinking,

then see the light step out upon
the water, sowing reflections
to either side -- a garden
of trees that grew as if by magic --
now see no more than my face,
mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,

startled by time. While I slept,
night in its thick winder jacket
bridled the doe with a twist
of wet leaves and led her away,
then brought its black horse with harness
that creaked like a cricket, and turned

the water garden under. I woke,
and at the waiting window found
the curtains open to my open face;
beyond me, darkness. And I,
who only wished to keep looking out,
must now keep looking in.

--Ted Kooser


from "The Daily Mirror: A Journal in Poetry"
October 15

Before I read your
poem, dear Charles,
I'd have planned on
Keats at second base
Shelley at short
Wordsworth in center
Coleridge in left
Byron at first base
John Clare in right
Leigh Hunt at third
Blake catching and
Whitman a surprise
starter on the mound
with Poe available
for short relief
in Yankee Stadium
where the October shadows
lengthen in left field
as Yogi Berra once put it
it gets late early there

--David Lehman


"The Glass Door"

Like someone who opens a door of glass
or sees his own reflection in it
when he returns from the woods
the light falls so variously here at the end of October
that nothing is whole or can be made into a whole
because the cracks are too uncertain and constantly moving.

Then you experience the miracle
of entering into yourself like a diamond
in glass, enjoying its own fragility
when the storm carries everything else away
including the memory of a freckled girlfriend
out over the bluing lake hidden behind the bare hills.

--Henrik Nordbrandt
(translated by Thom Satterlee)


"All Hallows' Eve"

In the great silence of my favorite month,
October (the red of maples, the bronze of oaks,
A clear-yellow leaf here and there on birches),
I celebrated the standstill of time.

The vast country of the dead had its beginning everywhere:
At the turn of a tree-lined alley, across park lawns.
But I did not have to enter, I was not called yet.

Motorboats pulled up on the river bank, paths in pine needles.
It was getting dark early, no lights on the other side.

I was going to attend the ball of ghosts and witches.
A delegation would appear there in masks and wigs,
And dance, unrecognized, in the chorus of the living.

--Czeslaw Milosz
(translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan)


"October in Hyde Park"

The whitewashed monastery where we sat
listening to the Aegean and watched
a space capsule among the stars
will be closed now for the winter;
and the harbour bars,
cleared of the yacht crowd,
will be serving dawn ouzos to the crews
of the Aghios Ioannis and Nikolaos
where they play dominoes
by the light of a paraffin lamp
and the bouzouki music of Mikis Theodorakis.

Europe, after the first rain of winter,
glitters with sex and opinion.
A cold wind scours the condemned
playground; leaves swarm like souls
down bleak avenues as if they led
to the kingdom of the dead,
computer systems down with flu,
our death not from darkness but from cold.

Like the leaves we are coming within
sight of the final river,
its son et lumière
and breath of the night sea.
As if ghosts already,
we search our pockets for the Stygian fare.

--Derek Mahon


"Ischia in October"
To Fausto Malcovati

Once a volcano here belched with zest.
Later, a pelican plucked its breast.
Virgil dwelt not too far away,
and Wystan Audan held drinks at bay.

These days, the palaces' stucco peels,
frightful prices make longer bills.
Yet I somehow still make, amid
all these changes, my line ends meet.

A fisherman sails into the azure,
away from the drying bed's linen lure.
And autumn splashes the mountain ridge
with a wave unknown to the empty beach.

On the balustrade, my wife and child
peer at a distant piano lid
of sail, or at the small balloon
of Angelus fleeing the afternoon.

Unreachable, as it were, by foot,
an island as a kind of fate
suits solely the sirocco; but
we also are fluent at

banging the shutters. A sudden draft
scattering papers right and left
is proof that in this limestone
place we are not alone.

The rectangular, mortar-held eggshell,
enduring the wind's solid brow, as well
as the breakers' wet hammar works,
reveals at dusk three yolks.

The bougainvillea's tightly wound
scrawl helps the isolated ground
to shade its limited shame a bit,
avenging thus space with writ.

Almost no people; so tht pronouns
sharpen one's features all at once,
as though speech makes them definite like a lens
at the vista's expense.

And should someone sigh longingly "Home," your hand
more willingly than to the continent
might point to the cumulous peaks where great
worlds rise and disintegrate.

We are a threesome here and I bet
what we together are looking at
is three times more addressless and more blue
than what Aeneas saw sailing through.

--Joseph Brodsky



Summer, goodbye.
The days grow shorter.
Cranes walk the fairway now
In careless order.

They step so gradually
Toward the distant green
They might be brushstrokes
Animating a screen.

Mist canopies
The water hazard.
Nearby, the little flag lifts,
Brave but frazzled.

Under sad clouds
Two white-capped golfers
Stand looking off, dreamy and strange,
Like young girls in Balthus.

--Donald Justice


"End of October"

Leaves wait as the reversal of wind
comes to a stop. The stopped woods
are seized of quiet; waiting for rain
bird & bug conversations stutter to a
Between the road
and the car in the road and me in the car,
and the woods
and the forms standing tall and the broken
forms and the small forms that crawl there,
the rain begins to fall. Rain-strands,
thin slips of vertical rivers, roll
the shredded waters out of the cloud
and dump them puddling to the ground.
Like sticks half-drowned the trees
lean so my eyes snap some into
lightning shapes, bent & bent.
I leave the car to wee where, lower,
the leaves of the shrubs beaten goldleaf
huddle together. In some spaces
nothing but rain appears.

Whatever crosses over
through the wall of rain
changes; old leaves are
now gold. The wall is
continuous, doorless. True,
to get past this wall
there's no need for a door
since it closes around me
as I go through.

--Marie Ponsot


"October Ghosts"

Jenny cold, Janny darkness,
They are coming back again.
We came so early,
But now we are shoveled down
The long slide.
We carry a blackened crocus
In either hand.

I will walk with you and Callimachus
Into the gorges
Of Ohio, where the miners
Are dead with us.

They carry one another
In their arms, still alive.
What do I know of them? I know
Uncle Charlie prowling along the cold shores of their lives,
His meters broken,
And your voice the only living voice, the only
Wind the wind
Of this autumn.

I knew a beautiful woman when I was young.
She wept over me as one who could hardly care.
Diphtheria starred her earlobes,
And she wailed all night.
That time is gone when the young women died
Astounded to hear black veins in their bodies
Coil round one another all night.

Jenny, fat blossoming grandmother of the dead,
We were both young, and I nearly found you, young.
I could not find you. I prowled into my head,
The cold ghost of October that is my skull.
There is a god's plenty of lovers there,
The dead, the dying, and the beautiful.

But where are we,
Jenny darkness, Jenny cold?
Are we so old?
We came so early, we thought to stay so long.
But it is already midnight, and we are gone.
I have nothing at all against that song,
That minor bird I hear from the great frost,
My robin's song, the ancient nothingness.

Friends, I have stolen this line from Robinson,
From Jenny, and from springtime, and from bone,
And from the quick nuthatch, the blooming of wing upon the sky.

Now I know nothing, I can die alone.

--James Wright


"The Love for October"

A child looking at ruins grows younger
but cold
and wants to wake to a new name
I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring
walnut and may leaves the color
of shoulders at the end of summer
a month that has been to the mountain
and become light there
the long grass lies pointing uphill
even in death for a reason
that none of us knows
and the wren laughs in the early shade now
come again shining glance in your good time
naked air late morning
my love is for lightness
of touch foot feather
the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips
in the sun

--W. S. Merwin


"Late October Night"

The night's cold, beautiful.
The groundskeeper's torching
the cleared, dry cornfield.
And the flames slowly set out
for the Danube
as when you left
for the ball in your full-length, yellow dress.

There are no violins here, no drums, no clarinets.
Just some voice swishes, grates
above me in the night,
as if your heavy hair
that I've inherited
were now being dragged behind the clouds
by ethereal wild geese.

The deer, too, stop
to listen to the rustle.
And indeed, it is you
who marches across their dilated pupils.
You're walking out of the hospital for good,
in disguise, leaving death
instead of yourself on the bed.

There's no lake in front of you, no stone,
no storm, no frightening quince-apple hill
on the road winding toward the graveyard.
You can amble freely between the poplars,
while, between unlit candles,
the chicory-eyed, craze woman --
even as she approaches -- is moving away.

The night's cold, beautiful.
Late October night, crystalline, blue.
The eyes of the pheasants, frightened
by the cornstalk fires, gleam
yellow from the top of the hill.
Shivering, I retreat beneath
the remaining yellow-gleaming walnut leaves.

--Sandor Csoori
(translated by Len Roberts)



Who can mediate
between the body and its undoing?
At night in each of my limbs
I feel the skeletal tree ache,
and I dream of leaves
in their feverish colors, floating
through the small streams
and tributaries of the blood.
At noon in the smoldering woods
I gather black grapes
that purse and caress the mouth,
I gather thistles and burrs --
whole armfuls of dissolution,
while from a branch
the chuck-will's widow calls
forgive, forgive

--Linda Pastan


"Hard and Fast"

A clarifying high
wind in October's
shanky last days --

maples luminous
mounds or
glacial hills dressed

down to shiny outline:
and thickets only
darkness traveled

through, clearly having
kept nothing worth
looking for: October

winds redress summer
tendencies, from
the litter of

freeze-scorched branches
to whistling gray
limb and clatter --

plenty of
clarification coming
ice can seal in tight.

--A. R. Ammons


"Baled Hay"

Wheels of baled hay bask in October sun:
Gold circles strewn across the sloping field,
They seem arranged as if each one
Has found its place; together they appeal
To some glimpsed order in my mind
Preceding my chance pausing here --
A randomness that also seems designed.
Gold circles strewn across the sloping field
Evoke a silence deep as my deep fear
Of emptiness; I feel the scene requires
A listener who can respond with words, yet who
Prolongs the silence that I still desire,
Relieved as clacking crows come flashing through,
Whose blackness shows chance radiance of fire.
Yet stillness in the field remains for everyone:
Wheels of baled hay bask in October sun.

--Robert Pack


from "October"

Summer after summer has ended,
balm after violence:
it does me no good
to be good to me now;
violence has changed me.

Daybreak. The low hills shine
ochre and fire, even the fields shine.
I know what I see: sun that could be
the August sun, returning
everything that was taken away --

You hear this voice? This is my mind's voice;
you can't touch my body now.
It has changed once, it has hardened,
don't ask it to respond again.

A day like a day in summer.
Exceptionally still. The long shadows of the maples
nearly mauve on the gravel paths.
And in the evening, warmth. Night like a night in summer.

It does me no good; violence has changed me.
My body has grown cold like the stripped fields;
now there is only my mind, cautious and wary,
with the sense it is being tested.

Once more, the sun rises as it rose in summer;
bounty, balm after violence.
Balm after the leaves have changed, after the fields
have been harvested and turned.

Tell me this is the future,
I won't believe you.
Tell me I'm living,
I won't believe you.

--Louise Gluck


"Of Possibility: Another Autumn Leaving"
Here they come like miniature herds
of headless ponies without hooves,
stampeding, rearing, trampling one another.
They corral to circle upward themselves
like air-borne droves of crippled brown
crows, rising in fragments of dust spouts,
raining down singly in swiveling pieces.

As if they were blind, they batter
against barricades, pile along brick
walls, boulders, wooden fences, filling
gullies and clefts, multitudes deep
as if they had no need to breathe.
Even with bodies without lungs,
there's a ghost cusp and sigh, a hollow
desert buzz to their rousing.

They sweep all night in the dry-moon
rasp of their rattling trance.
They scutter and reel up the windowpanes
on their hundred pins, over the roof
in their thorny flocks. Though totally
lacking bones or the tatters of bones,
still they shrivel and quake.
Though totally devoid of hearts
or the rubbish of hearts, still
they are brittle and heedless.

Even without souls, they shiver and rend.
Even without devils, they make ritual
processions of their deprivations. With no
word at all, they lie. They stutter.
They testify to themselves. Even lost
and without a god, they make visions
of the invisible, become the buffet,
the possessed, the very place of wind.
They are the time and tangible nexus
of all heavenly spirits. Even without tongues,
they clatter their tongues.

--Pattiann Rogers

Howard, thanks for this Autumn Collection, Really enjoyed it.
Thanks, wings; October's long been my favorite month in many ways. I'm glad you enjoyed these.
You're a star!
I was just looking for some great autumn poetry for my classes.

Cheers, Kult
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