One thing I miss most about autumn is the smell of burning leaves. When I was a kid, we used to rake leaves into a pile and burn them on the side of the street/road. The following poem, Autumn Fires, tells about a childhood memory of mine. I was raking leaves with two of my first cousins at the home of my maternal grandparents. My dzidzi (grandfather) set the leaves on fire and we cousins sat on wooden crates watching as the leaves burned and the smoke rose into the air.
Two tall maple trees grow
in front of my grandparents’ house.
In late Octoberthey shed their golden crowns.
When the fallen leaves
curl up like little brown bear cubs,
we rake them into a pile
at the side of the street.
As dusk arrives
Dzidzi sets our harvest afire
with a single match.
We sit on wooden crates
at the sidewalk’s edge,
watch the brittle leaves
blossom into golden flames,
smell autumn’s pungent breath.
From the pyre summer rises,
a small gray ghost,
and drifts away
into the darkening sky.
In October, colored leaves
Fall from oak and maple trees…
Bright confetti shaken down
From their boughs. All over town
Trees are celebrating fall,
Decorating every wall,
Sidewalk, yard, and flowerbed
With pumpkin-orange, gold, and red.
We stand out in the falling leaves
And catch confetti on our sleeves,
In our hands and in our hair.
We party till the trees are bare.
The following color poem was inspired by Joyce Sidman’s book Red Sings from Tree Tops: A Year in Colors:
The Orange of October
shines in the face
of a harvest moon,
grows plump and round in pumpkin patches,
flickers in the angled eyes of jack o’ lanterns…
and their crooked copper grins.
The Orange of October
flames in oak leaves and asters,
smells like cinnamon and nutmeg,
tastes like sweet potato pie.
MY AUTUMN ACROSTICS
Mad magician of
Every color of the rainbow
Animals get ready for winter--slip
Under stones, hide in hollow logs, bury
Themselves in pond bottoms. The
Underlife of leaves bursts forth in a
Myriad of colors and they dazzle like jewels on a
Necklace of trees.
Must fly south
Into the sun…must
Get going…before Mother Nature
Raises her icy hands
In white. Follow me
On the wing to a land that does
Not know the chill of winter
Like baby birds
Eager to test their wings
A scarlet flock takes flight in a silent
Valediction to summer.
Settle into autumn, curl up from the cold.
Crimson and gold, pumpkin
Orange, lemon yellow, burnt sienna...
Leaves don their autumn finery in
October to celebrate the season.
Restless breezes set them dancing,
Swirling through air like a rainbow of dervishes
Orange moon, disk of burnished copper, gleams in the sky, prowling
Cats step gingerly through fallen leaves crisped by the cold,
Toothy pumpkins smile tremulously in the dark, a flock
Of geese honks farewell to trick-or-treaters toting sacks of sweets. Woe
Betide those out at the witching hour when All Hallows’
Eve swarms with ghosts who rise from their graves and
Return to spirit away unsuspecting souls before the month creaks closed like Dracula’s coffin.
**********Here are a few of the old moldering poems that I found recently while cleaning out bins in my basement:
Trees shiver on cold autumn nights
When dark comes early. Frost delights
In painting earth with icy hands.
From the orchards, yellow strands
Of apple scents drift through the town,
Colored leaves sift softly down,
And soon the summer green will drown
In a sea of nutmeg brown.
Wild geese fly past the face of the moon.
The long days will be over soon.
“Now,” they caution, “time to go
Before the sky fills up with snow.”
I watch them soar past summer’s end.
I close my eyes and I pretend
My arms are wings and I can fly
To where the sun flames gold in a winter sky.
When autumn comes,
the cricket strums
a wishful song—
the echo of a summer gone,
warm memories to dream upon.
At the farm stand—
fat, flame-orange pumpkins
jumbled and tumbled together—
a heap of harvest moons
waiting to shine on Halloween.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is over at Great Kid Books this week.