November

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There’s nothing left but overall
Remnants of what had once been fall;
Even where a week before
A leaf or two blew through the door
The dwindling days have turned to soot
The little traveling underfoot.
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Snow will follow soon enough
Careening through the unmown scruff
Of jimson weed and bush clover,
Nothing apt to be covered over
With just a midday’s squall—but soon
Winter will stay the afternoon.
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Then who will afterward remember
The few days readied since September?—
The ghostly sighs of thimbleweed,
The breaking knuckles of the reed,
Whole fields of startled hair turned white
Before the year end’s stricken flight.
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I wouldn’t ask but that I know
It’s not just seasons come and go.
When ice gives way to watercress
And all of April’s loveliness,
Remember, though the days are few,
November has its flowers too.
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Pussy Willow Branch (Reduced)·
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by me | January 8 2018

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    This is my first audio recording using my new YETI microphone. My reading of the poem is just okay, but then I’m never satisfied that way. Best that I never hear myself. The poem itself is one I started not in November of last year but the year before, with a haiku. I finally devoted the time to finishing it.
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6 responses

  1. You are the only poet besides Stevens, Dickinson, Ammons, and Yeats whose poems I can tune into enough to recreate or recompress. Your advantage over them is that you are more oriented to people and work—that is, reality—and generally more at ease. Thus when I piggyback your poems I’m more apt to get a pro-social outcome. In this latest one, for example, I felt the instant potential for a domestic scene.

    Upon this fit of winter squall
    A remnant of the former fall
    A leaf or two through open door
    The oak that warms our hold on life
    And not so warm the soot that builds
    On nights and flues and human will
    But that is where the voices help
    To keep the darkness underfoot

    As winter howls around our eaves
    My daughter stirs an early spring
    The peanut brittle on the stove
    Snow does not transmogrify—no,
    Sweetens to the closing in!
    “Mom & Dad & Nell & Ned
    Bring your plates into the den
    ‘Thar’s gold in these har hills!’”

    We laugh.

    Am I reading your brain correctly?

    • Well, you know, I’m a believer in the cagey poet. I don’t think poet’s should be commenting on their own poems. That’s almost a breech of contract.

      What you do is something I also enjoy — writing pastiche’s of other poems. :) I think the concrete imagery does your version good. Your own poetry sometimes tends to miss a sense of place — not that all poetry requires a sense of place, but I look for it poetry.

      The one thing I’d say your version misses is the implicit threat, if not terror, in my own poem — the cellar and crawlspace of the New England soul. I’ll leave it at that.

  2. Oh I have a sense of place alright, but several of its contours are so subject to stereotype among a general audience I’d rather not risk alienating your readers. Besides, I’m just one of several hundred guests who visit your site every day, and they deserve to enjoy your website as much as I do. Maybe after 9 in 10 of my poems are among the most perfect in the English language instead of just one in ten I can get by with it, and we can do a poetry reading together at Middlebury. Are you game for a concussion and neck brace?

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