Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
Not working, not breathing,
the beehive sweetens and dies.
The autumn deepens, the soul
ripens and grows round;
drawn into the turning color of fruit,
cast out of the idle blossoms.
Work is long and dull in autumn,
the word is heavy.
More and more heavily, day by day,
nature weighs down the mind.
A laziness like wisdom
overshadows the mouth with silence.
Even a child, riding along,
cycling into white shafts of light,
suddenly will look up
with a pale, clear sadness.
(translated from the Russian by Barbara Einzig)
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
She walks the way the wind goes,
the way the hearts of crab-apple leaves
bend, changing color.
Timing is light and shadow playing
with meaning. Lottery
of unexpected fortunes. The great
wall of fieldstone stands
like a messenger between slope
and circumstance. She rubs a finger
over the wall’s face. Stone
always bears a message.
She’ll follow its shadow until wall
becomes a snake moving
across stubble-grass, an arrow.
Until it tells her something.
So particular, each morning. None
quite like the last. Today, oceans of sky
swell with titanic clouds,
and the speckled lamb faces away
from wind, a blizzard of fallen leaves.
This morning, what is fenced field
but an extension of the way-out-there,
where before dawn, coyotes
called. A grassy swale is no bunker
against such weather.
The ewe lamb shakes her ears
and hunkers down. Tribal memory
of winter coming. What does she know
of one more time, another season;
months before any thought of spring?
AUTUMN HITS BOTTOM
—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento
Help, I have fallen! cried the
brown leaf to the green.
I wasn’t ready to descend,
life to end, no time to mend.
Its pleas reached only
the space in between.
Ha ha, I have risen! puffed
the green leaf to the brown.
My life is now fulfilled,
more to build, forever thrilled.
Then a breeze blew the green
leaf straight to the ground.
THE SOUND OF RAIN
The sound of rain like a lute—
such strumming on the roof!
To the pedestrian in the Square of Arising
I say, Be very kind!
I tell a boy, Be wild!
Leaning to his curly head
I say, Loosen the string,
Free the green balloons!
On the street where the public chatters
I come upon a white dog—
with a compassionate look
the dog fixes me in its gaze.
And in a store I discover a miser
in the palesness of a face.
He admires a bottle of cologne,
but the price tag has him sweating.
I say to him, Don't be a pig, cure yourself,
Buy something expensive
and take it to someone you love.
But I'm not very successful.
Among the boys and girls,
the grownups who look like me,
an ice-cream cart rolls in.
And so, I walk at sunrise.
I notice the long shadows.
I notice the surprise
of people who look at me as I pass.
(translated by Daniel Halpern with Albert Todd)
Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones
There's something in this richness that I hate.
I love the look, austere, immaculate,
Of landscapres drawn in pearly monotones.
There's something in my very blood that owns
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
A thread of water churned to milky spate
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.
I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath,
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.
WIND AND SILVER
The Autumn moon floats in the thin sky;
And the fish-ponds shake their backs and flash their dragon