Fall poetry

Change is in the air, and not just as a political slogan. Early adopter maples are already redecorating themselves. On weekdays the malls are as empty as school buses in August. The lakes give up their heat in the mornings, getting all misty about it.

This collection of the Poetry Project captures, from a variety of viewpoints, the transition from one season to the next. Some poets look longingly back to the sights, sensations and adventures of summer. Others anticipate fall, or at least the future. Still others — well we all have our issues.

An apology: We didn’t get all the online poems posted for the last issue. Sorry. We’re still working through the logistics of this Project.  

An announcement: If you’d like to combine passions for politics and poetry, join us on 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22 at the Linden Hills Sebastian Joe’s, 4321 Upton Ave. S., for a special reading of political poetry.  

A request:  If you write poetry, please send your best work to [email protected] for our next issue. The deadline is Nov. 24 for the Dec. 15 SWJ. Keep writing!

Doug Wilhide is the Journal’s poetry editor and  Poet Laureate of Linden Hills


Izzy Arnoldy

Here I am
Seeing all these happy faces and happy people.
I hear laughter, screams and the relaxing sound
of waves lapping on the shore.
I smell the fresh, salty air, fish and seaweed.
I’m running through the waves,
having fun with my cousins
Tasting the salt on my lips
And finding shells with my aunts, uncles,
parents and grandparents.
I’m feeling so calm as the sand scrunches
beneath my toes
The sun warms my back
and the waves splash my legs.
I feel as if I’m where I’m meant to be.

David Hutchinson

She clung to the window;
I stood in the aisle
stumbling back as the bus lunged.
She sat watching all the while.
She was round;
I was square.
Her polka-dot colors
I could never wear!
Hurried riders crowd the door.
In a moment she’s gone.
I’ll see her no more.
Pushed out of the way
by the hand of a thug.
Now that’s no way to treat
a lady bug!

Liz Loney

Tribal rhythms of the bongo beat
flow happily through my bedroom window
My neighbor is playing again.
If quantum physicists are right —
that all thought, movement, and objects
are vibratory energy
and that what is observed changes
when the perspective
and intention of the observer changes —
Do we really need CNN to tell us what is real?
My preference is listening to bongos —
Ba Boom…Ba boom…
Ba Ba Ba Ba Boom…
Boom…Ba —
floating on an August breeze.

G. Scott
A man, on vacation, had been fishing,
And came back to the shore with his gear.
His wife decided to take out the boat
To read a new book and sip on a beer.
She was quietly drifting and reading
When a warden’s boat came from the shore
He said, “This is a bass spawning zone.
“And fishing is not allowed any more.”
The woman said, “But I’m not fishing,
“I’m relaxing and reading my book.
“I don’t have a line in the water,
“I have not even baited a hook.”
“Lady, your boat is in a restricted zone,
“And all your equipment is in it.
“If I hadn’t come along when I did,
“You could have dropped a line in a minute.”
“Officer,” she said with a sly little grin,
And not a trace of embarrassment:
“If you do give me a ticket,
“I’ll have to sue you for sexual harassment.”
The officer blanched, his mouth was agape.
He said, “If you do, there’s no truth in it.”
She replied, “Your equipment is also in your boat,
“And you could get it out any minute.”
The Officer smiled as he put down his pad.
And prepared to get under way.
“I understand the point that you make.
“Lady, have a nice day.”

Deborah Morse-Kahn

SUNDAY, 6:30 A.M.
The boats went in at the lake docks
well before Memorial Day,
rowboats taking the
sailboats out to the
season’s assignment of buoys. 

The rigging on the boats
clanks in the early morning,
seagulls swoop over the water in the
first light for the
first fish in this
first hour of the day. 

Loose rigging and seagulls,
poignant and heart-tugging sound
for any who feel called by boats on water,
Could be anywhere,
Martha’s Vineyard,
Monterey Bay,
New York Harbor. 

Always the same,
birds on the water,
rigging on the sailing ships. 
We’re either called or we’re not. 
I am, but won’t go. 
Staying here…

Doug Wilhide

I know we looked pathetic in the boat
especially when the rain started.
From the shore we were a small, dark spot
on the flat water, gray as fish scales.

When the rain started, we stayed
As the bigger boats turned for port,
Sailing past us or motoring by.
We stayed and were felt sorry for.

But in the boat we didn’t mind:
rain is rain, after all,
and this was just a light rain in summer.
and we were together.

We kept quiet. Kept an eye on the wind.
Waited for the sun to return to the water.
In the boat, in the rain, on the great gray lake,
We knew no urgent need to head for home.

Christine Fraser

Coming into Rapid City,
they fly on the highway
like flocks of birds.
Fat, shiny black crows
all leather and chrome
moving steadily forward
as one body
in formation
knowing where each other is.
Their elbows spread wide like wings.

Each man rides solo
or with a woman tucked behind him
like a papoose,
her head resting on his shoulder or back.
Hundreds of miles flow beneath them
like water in their silence,
only wind filling their ears.

Anita Ross

My sister travels on a grasshopper
wears nails around her ankles
wraps rainbows in mud.

My father walks sideways in the sand
opens rocks with his eyes
flows like blood through my tears.

My mother sleeps under a leaf
slides through the light
rides words across the table.

And I sing artichokes into bloom
paint yellow and purple sonatas
write teapots into poems.


Howard Arthur Osborn

A prying pink has lift an edge of sky
to say the sun is coming
yet over there, where yesterday it rose red-globed
(round six or so), all’s dark and solid gray.
Were infra-red the color of my choice
in these gray days, would joy seem far away?

That prying pink brings me, I think,
a link to here inside my own grey-matter.
No matter what the day, in here, even at night
that light is sometimes bright.
What shrink-rapt would keep me
outside my own bright mind?

I struggle to unlock what I have dearly bought,
paid for, yearned for, really earned,
and now, hid in all that frumpery
I find new birth, unwind swaddling clothes
from some sweet idea.

Rose tones of crystal-vision trump misery
cut laser-like to the heart,
restart my day.

David Banks

We’d like to know, or not know,
what you think, or don’t think,
depending on whom you are

or whom you feel you might be.
Your opinions matter
to those who will agree,
or not, with our findings.

We prize diversity.
We believe in this so strongly
we will erase you from our results

if someone just like you
answers first, and answers freely.

Do you believe in numbers? We snare
a margin of 3 percent
90 percent of the time.
How ’bout them numbers?

We’ve been around for 50 years.
We’ve had multiple partners.
(We’ve always used protection.)

Please pick up.

Michael Miller

Winter…is right there
over the trees across the lead-gray lake.
For days the clouds have been a blanket
protecting us from the season to come, yet
just behind that line of clouds and moving this way
the sky is clear and cold.

A few more hours and that black line
of cloud and icy sky will pass over and
our old friend and enemy will be here again to stay
until the soft winds of March
bring a new birth of warmth and flowers.

The geraniums by the back door, ever optimistic,
still sporting a few buds ready to bloom,
will be shivering and shriveling by supper time.
Soon the firewood must be split and piled
windows checked for leaks and
tender things taken indoors.

It’s time to go inside now, to read, to think,
and to wait for the sun to begin again
its long slow journey up the western sky.

Cristopher Anderson

When I look her way, the dog shrinks and cowers,
lowly curls her lip, feints back. 
Then, when I’m not looking —
she dashes in with bared teeth to clip my heel.

The neighborhood children know this, huddling together,
putting their backs toward each other.

Thinking I know dogs, I move to protect them,
charging in and waving her away. But when
I turn my back, 60 pounds of muscle and fur and
teeth suddenly collides against my thigh, with
dull eyes and open mouth following my hands
if I wave or point again.

She is loose from that sad house around the corner,
with the girl we pity and man whose face we avoid.

I can do nothing except stand with the children,
afraid as they know how to be afraid,
the dog’s unreachable eyes telling me
I’m just an animal with tender skin.

Is this how it is that some people still talk and
weep about the dogs of the conquistadors —
trained to leap and rip the throats
of their lovely running ancestors?

On Beard Avenue in Minneapolis I have 
no time to wonder where this trouble comes from.

Stuart Klipper

where I walked on worn wooden floors
amongst binned nails ‘n screws
and the angle irons I always liked,
sandpapers paints wood and whatnot
whatchamacallit and aluminum.

Two post-war Midwest Jews, a Mister and Missus
with some younger ones fresh
over from Russia or the Ukraine,
each and every, always friendly,
supplying a neighborhood’s supers
and renters, and householders
with the whatall and wherewithal
to keep life going and entropy at bay.

Hardware and repair were years of this,
this business and its businessmen:
the cadres of fixers and
gerry-builders, glass cutters,
Mr. Masonites
a few lost latter-day Edisons
and some truly Smithsonian items,
to a man those 3-in-1-doused Guses
out of  back alleyed, out-back garage workshops
or cellar lairs and provinces of duct work…

Out also of the yellowing pages of
Popular Mechanics and Science, in plaid flannel
stout or lank, squat or gangly
wizened all, tanned even with
the wax and lacquer of layered age,
the burnish of the burled smoke
from their old troll briars,
their long janitorial and handyman lives
done, or almost over,
callused, crackled and
alligatored as aged paint
by maintenance and make-do,
the grit and the wisdom of real work.
Here hands-on know-how knew
no quarter.

rampant always in blue and gold
its signs and slogans still furled
if faded,
now closed.
Screened door of yore,
(screening slack)
at last clacked shut
to open no more.

I wave a work-gloved hand
a hefty good-bye.