by D. R. James




Autumn in the Wings


Twigs’ lush medium is converting to

calligraphy, the dismissal of leaves

to launch its winter forewarning. Laden

with late acorns, squirrels chuck-chuck meaningless

memos, counter-balance full bellies, tails

unfurled. I am embracing—keepsaking—

the unscrolling calendar, harvesting

days tossed my way, the prodigious burden

of nows. Hunters will bruise this calm soon, but

until then it’s choirs of jays, cranes, and crows.




a black line



Second day of gun season,


and they’ve already bagged

some ninety-odd bucks.

A fine-looking local,

camo hat jaunty

over jostled blond hair, his

bolt-action Winchester coddled

between twin olive-green sleeves,

poses, grinning, on the front page—

a ten-pointer (if I know how

to count it right). Me,

I’ve posted warnings,

canceled all maneuvers,

withheld any and all furloughs,

mandated all my dears

close ranks at home-base

for the duration.




a black line



Leaf Fall


Asymmetric chandeliers instigate

their rhapsodic drop, the ruddling scumble-

trove of falling leaves and epiphanies

whose sillage shellacs paw, pelt, and breezes.

Trapezes sling these acrobatic hues

into bold arcs, risky spins, pronounced turns

before alights the wind-borne troupe of the

trees. Stippled bark akin to camo backs

the show, and cursive limbs announce the new

season: caesura ending summer’s song.




a black line



Flip Requiem


Only black-and-tan clumps

cling anymore to our oaks

(raking finally making sense),


which stand silent as pickets

this side of winter’s no-longer

fierce or precise approach.


I’m over a father’s death,

an angry mother’s post-mortem

reach (though there it is again),


the delusion that autumn’s demise

warns us of anything. Those fears?

Fading—their threatening hues


mere harmless colors after all.

Instead, a dogwood’s scrawny pecs

spread stripped limbs to greet us


into the new season’s breach,

a wind-scrambled blueprint of

tangled twigs, leaf eddies, and rain.


What’s to come used to command

such aching concentration, demands

collected in the heart. Now, subdued,


it signals no sad story tracking itself

across some dismal arena dressed in

black, elegiac notes—but noodles muted


scales that free the blood and coast us

toward a more cordial space: a flip

requiem, perhaps, for chronic requiems.




a black line



Slackening Observed


A cardinal, its heaven’s sound, the winter’s

effervescent rag with salutating

gait. Notes etch, sun foils, and cathedralic

miles enlarge the whispering. To center

oneself, to murmur, to intercept the

synchronizing run that’s rioting, is

as longingly still as the slope outside

the city’s heaves, the barn-red-confetti’d

woods, the uniform crisp of autumn days,

shallows iced to the shoreline, valley’s dream.



a black line


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