The neighbor’s orchard is empty now,
bushels full of apples pressed into cider and jam.
Pumpkins and gourds have succeeded summer’s
bumper crop of watermelons, long gone off
to Fourth of July picnics and family reunions.

By sunset our last pile of leaves had been raked
and heaped onto a lazy bonfire glowing orange,
expiring with a wispy shaft of smoke upwards
into the chilly twilight.

Autumn’s lackluster constellations can’t compete
with this evening’s gibbous moon, rising
like a spotlight just over the eastern horizon,
silhouetting a lonely grove of bare-limbed
maple trees.

This year’s festive All Hallows’ Eve begins
to wane into sleepy solemnity as packs of
costumed children retreat indoors to inspect
their cache of candies while jack-o-lantern faces
gradually go dark. Excited laughter dissipates,
leaving the night to echo only the rhythmic
chirping of crickets and an occasional hoot
from a hidden barn owl. My midnight hike
through crumpled beds of zinnias and
marigolds withered dry by frost gradually
turns pensive and melancholic.

Such a metaphor, these changing seasons,
to the passage of time and life. Almost
instinctively drawn to muse upon a sad
stanza or two penned by Shelley, I wonder
how a poet so enchanted with beauty and
romance could be just as well obsessed
with graveyards and doom. Can love and
loss be hopelessly connected?

And so we say Goodbye again
to yet another autumn season.
I’m walking briskly now, my shoulders
hunched and coat collar turned up turtle-like,
trying to protect my tingling ears from the
pre-dawn’s sudden drop below the freezing
mark, while from a distant church’s steeple
the matins bell of All Saints Day, like an
old man’s lethargic heartbeat, begins to
toll a doleful lament: Death is coming.
Death to all.

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