Autumn Poetry

Fall Night


Blue cold dark

punctuated by

clear diamond glitter


crescent moon.


Bare trees stand



both directions,

toward earth,

toward sky.


Reaching through

the darkness

to touch

the fragile,

icy heavens.

Image by Martin Bargl

Apple Season

The kitchen is sweet with the smell of apples,
big yellow pie apples, light in the hand,
their skins freckled, the stems knobby
and thick with bark, as if the tree
could not bear to let the apple go.
Baskets of apples circle the back door,
fill the porch, cover the kitchen table.

My mother and my grandmother are
running the apple brigade. My mother,
always better with machines, is standing
at the apple peeler; my grandmother,
more at home with a paring knife,
faces her across the breadboard.
My mother takes an apple in her hand,

She pushes it neatly onto the sharp
prong and turns the handle that turns
the apple that swivels the blade pressed
tight against the apple's side and peels
the skin away in long curling strips that
twist and fall to a bucket on the floor.
The apples, coming off the peeler,

Are winding staircases, little accordions,
slinky toys, jack-in-the-box fruit, until
my grandmother's paring knife goes slicing
through the rings and they become apple
pies, apple cakes, apple crisp. Soon
they will be married to butter and live with
cinnamon and sugar, happily ever after.

-  Joyce Sutphen


Crow Flight

At twilight we rest,

in the cool air.

Gazing up watching

the crows arrive from the east,

drawn to the western sky

by some invisible thread -

to night perches in far off trees.


First one,

then the next,

then four,

then a cluster of twenty perhaps more.

Repeating this over and over,

they fly as the evening falls.


Then there are the ones who are behind,

the single ones,

their wings flapping madly to catch up with the others,

the faster, the ones who didn't linger.

We cheer them on,

hoping they too can make it home

before the dark descends,

these stragglers are our heroes tonight.


Who knows why they fly this way.

Temperature and light

signaling the time to come home.

Signals imperceptible to us.


The way to find home

is to follow the waning light,

the cooler breeze,

to trust the setting sun.



it rained in my sleep
and in the morning the fields were wet

I dreaded of artillery
with twigs and leaves

as if after a battle 
or sudden journey

I went to sleep in the summer
I dreamed of rain

in the morning the fields were wet
and it was autumn

by Linda Pastan


Moon and Water


I wake and spend

the last hours

of darkness

with no one


but the moon.

She listens

to my complaints

like the good


companion she is

and comforts me surely

with her light.

But she, like everyone,


has her own life.

So finally I understand

that she has turned away,

is no longer listening.


She wants me

to refold myself

into my own life.

And, bending close,


as we all dream of doing,

she rows with her white arms

through the dark water

which she adores.




by Mary Oliver


October Wind

October was when

you celebrated your love

with chili and red wine

under the moon,

watching the elk and deer in their fall rut,

together another year.


More than sixty years you shared this ritual,

with the mountains as your witness

the stars as your guide.


Cold wind and early snow

signaling that it was time

to head down valley,

car packed to the brim.


You, like the deer and elk

migrating to warmer grounds for winter.


Wait by Galway Kinnell

Wait, for now.

Distrust everything if you have to.

But trust the hours. Haven’t they

carried you everywhere, up to now?

Personal events will become interesting again.

Hair will become interesting.

Pain will become interesting.

Buds that open out of season will become interesting.

Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;

their memories are what give them

the need for other hands. And the desolation

of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness

carved out of such tiny beings as we are

asks to be filled; the need

for the new love is faithfulness to the old.



Don’t go too early.

You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.

But no one is tired enough.

Only wait a little and listen:

music of hair,

music of pain,

music of looms weaving all our loves again.

Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,

most of all to hear

the flute of your whole existence,

rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

The Little Girl by the Fence at School - William Stafford

Grass that was moving found all shades of brown,

moved them along, flowed autumn away

galloping southward where summer had gone.


And that was the morning someone’s heart stopped

and became still. A girl said, “Forever?”

And the grass. “Yes,. forever.” While the sky -

The sky - the sky - the sky.


When Giving is All We Have by Alberto Rios


One river gives

Its journey to the next.


We give because someone gave to us.

We give because nobody gave to us.


We give because giving has changed us.

We give because giving could have changed us.


We have been better for it,

We have been wounded by it—


Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,

Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.


Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,

But we read this book, anyway, over and again:


Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,



Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow. Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.


Essential Gratitude by Andrea Potos

Sometimes it just stuns you

like an arrow flung from some angel’s wing.

Sometimes it hastily scribbles

a list in the air: black coffee,

thick new books,

your pillow’s cool underside,

the quirky family you married into.


It is content with so little really;

even the ink of your pen along

the watery lines of your dimestore notebook

could be a swiftly moving prayer.