"But it was October"

It's fall. You must, therefore, click here to re/read this piece by Colin Nissan titled "It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers."

Here's an excerpt, redacted (as best I can) for the children:
I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get my hands on some fucking gourds and arrange them in a horn-shaped basket on my dining room table. That shit is going to look so seasonal. I'm about to head up to the attic right now to find that wicker fucker, dust it off, and jam it with an insanely ornate assortment of shellacked vegetables. When my guests come over it's gonna be like, BLAMMO! Check out my shellacked decorative vegetables, assholes. Guess what season it is—fucking fall. There's a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant fucking squash.

It's finally feeling like the world's on the verge of fall around here. Had to break out the car coat and stocking cap yesterday morning heading out for work. Cider and pumpkins are for sale at the grocery store. The Honeycrisp apples can't be far behind. Morning's dark lasts noticeably longer, and I'm beginning to feel that general urge to hunker down.

It's also the fall season of manuscript submissions, and mine is out there for the first time. Praise Nothing is currently at six contests, and I'll add at least six more to that number by the end of the year. Now the waiting begins. That, and the working on the new poems.

And speaking of the poems, I recently received my contributor's copy of the new issue of New South which contains my poem "Field Rows," a poem that, I'm humbled and honored to say, Robert Wrigley selected for the 2010 New South Poetry Prize.

And what an impressive issue it is! Jim May and all the folks at New South are doing such good work, and I feel fortunate to have my work appear in their journal for a second time, and this time alongside such fine poets as, among others, Judith Harris, Brian Barker, David Wagoner, and Tony Hoagland, as well as two friends, Jeff Newberry and Cody Lumpkin, and other poets whose work I wasn't previously familiar with but, I'm sure of this, will now see everywhere.

I also received some good news from Jake Adam York at Copper Nickel. My poem "A Patterning of Fire, a Gathering of Ash" will be published in a forthcoming issue, Issue 15, I think.

On a whim, I'd entered the poem in their contest figuring that the small entrance fee was worth it because it paid for a subscription. While I wasn't selected as a winner, I was a finalist for the prize, and feel great about that, but mostly I'm extremely happy to have this poem in particular placed in what is, I think, one of the country's finest literary journals.

"A Patterning" is the longest poem I've published to date, coming in at eight pages, and it's also the big one that closes my book manuscript. So, really looking forward to seeing it in print.


I've posted this poem by Stephen Dobyns before, but I want to give a shoutout to Luke Johnson for reminding me of it this fall.

How to Like It

These are the first days of fall. The wind
at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,
while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns
is like an unsettled feeling in the blood,
the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.
A man and a dog descend their front steps.
The dog says, Let's go downtown and get crazy drunk.
Let's tip over all the trash cans we can find.
This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.
But in his sense of the season, the man is struck
by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories
which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid
until it seems he can see remembered faces
caught up among the dark places in the trees.

[Click the link to read the rest of the poem at Luke's blog, Proof of Blog]


In Autumn

At day's light
I dressed my cold body & went out.
Calling the dogs, I climbed the west hill,
Threw cut wood down to the road for hauling.
Done, there was a kind of exultation
That wanted to go on; I made my way
Up through briers & vines
To a great stone that rises at the hill's brow,
Large enough to stand on. The river
Below was a thick, dark line.
My house was quaint.
I sat, not thoughtful,
Lost in the body awhile,
Then came down the back way, winding
Through stands of cedar & pine.

I can tell you where I live.
My grief is that I bear no grief
& so I bear myself. I know I live apart.
But have had long evenings in conversation,
The faces of which betrayed
No separation from a place or time. Now,
In the middle of my life,
A woman of delicate bearing gives me
Her hand, & friends
Are so enclosed within my reasoning
I am occasionally them.

When I had finally stood, high above
The house, land, my life's slow dream,
For a moment I was required
To turn to those deep rows of cedar,
& would have gone
On walking endlessly in.
I understand by the body's knowledge
I will not begin again.
But it was October: leaves
In the yellowed light were altered & familiar.
We who have changed, & have
No hope of change, must now love
The passage of time.

Jon Anderson
from The Milky Way: Poems 1967-1982