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Autumn Poetry


by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star's stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother's, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people are you.
Remember you are this universe and this universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.


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.


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.


Autumnal by Rosemary Wahtola Trommer after a line from William Stafford


When the leaves are about to yellow and fall

ask me then how I tried to hold on to what was green, how I thought perhaps I was different,

how everything I thought I knew about gold

turned brittle and brown.

Ask me what it was like to fall then. Sometimes the world’s workings feel transparent and we know ourselves as the world.

Sometimes the only words that can find our lips are thank you, though the gifts look nothing like anything we ever thought we wanted.

Sometimes, gratitude arrives in us, not because we are willing, but because it insists on itself, like a weed, like a wind, like change.

The Room of Ancient Keys (Midwives of the Soul)

    by Elena Mikhalkova

My grandmother once gave me a tip:

 In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.

Do what you have to do, but little by little.

Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.

Wash the dishes.

Remove the dust.

Write a letter.

Make a soup.

You see?

You are advancing step by step.

Take a step and stop.

Rest a little.

Praise yourself.

Take another step.

 Then another.

You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more.

And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.


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.


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.


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.

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

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