Auden wrote of

September 1939

in a bar on 52nd street.

A premonition of the catastrophe

That followed.


Where are we?

The trout lurk in the shadows of the


Are they afraid

or just avoiding me?


We fear death by a thousand cuts.

And yet this late August day in upstate New York

with its mellow afternoon light and gentle breeze

calms the spirit as friends gather.


The pine tree in the yard

stands majestic and vulnerable.


August, 2019


4 thoughts on “Fall

  1. Harry, this poem reminds me of one by Robert Penn Warren, with whom I think you have a few things in common:


    The faucet drips all night, the plumber forgot it.
    A cat, in coitu, squalls like Hell’s honeymoon.
    A child is sick. The Doctor coughs.
    Do you feel, in your heart, that life has turned out as once you expected?

    Spring comes early, ice
    Groans in the gorge. Water, black, swirls
    Into foam like lace white in fury. The gorge boulders boom.
    When you hear, in darkness, the gorge boulders boom, does your heart say, “No comment”?

    Geese pass in dawn-light, and the news
    From Asia is bad, and the Belgians sure mucked up
    The Congo. Human flesh is eaten there, often uncooked.
    Have you sat on a hillside at sunset and eaten the flesh of your own heart?

    The world drives at you like a locomotive
    In an archaic movie. It whirls off the screen.
    It is on you, the iron. You hear, in that silence, your heart.
    Have you thought that the headlines are only the image of your own heart?

    Some study compassion. Some confusing
    Personal pathology with the logic of history, jump
    Out of windows. Some walk with God, some by rivers, at twilight.
    Have you tried to just sit with the children and tell a tale ending in laughter?

    Oh, tell the tale, and laugh, and let
    God laugh–for your heart is the dragon-tree, the root
    Feels, in earth-dark, the abrasive scale, the coils
    Twitch. But look! the new leaf flaps gilt in the sunlight. Birds sing.


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