Our neighbor’s apple orchard looks sadly bare,
the harvest’s bounty now pressed into cider and jam.
In the fields, pumpkins and gourds have succeeded
summer’s bumper crop of watermelons,
long gone off to Fourth of July picnics and
family reunions.

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By sunset our last pile of leaves had been raked,
left glowing orange in a lazy bonfire, its wispy
shaft of smoke curling upward in the chilly twilight.
Autumn’s lackluster constellations can’t compete
with this evening’s gibbous moon, rising golden
just over the eastern horizon, silhouetting
a lonely grove of bare-boned 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 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 just as well
be obsessed with graveyards and doom.
Can love and loss be hopelessly connected?

And so I say Good Night, and Farewell
again to yet another October of another year.
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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