Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Autumn Leaves

The past week we have been enjoying unusually mild weather for the beginning of November in northern Indiana. As the temperature touched seventy a couple of days, I thought of the way my father often described those rare afternoons of late autumn when the weather warmed briefly, usually just before the first burst of chilling winds and hints that a bitter winter’s blowing snow would soon be moving in.

When I witnessed the winds shifting from south to north this morning—felt colder air finally sweeping through the nearly bare branches of my backyard fruit trees, twisting among the last colorful limbs of oaks or beech trees, creating scattered patterns out of leaves already spread over my lawn—I also recalled once more my father’s wise advice, how he suggested we should accept any brief reprieve from the seasonal slide toward winter with a welcoming attitude but with a significant bit of skepticism as well.

He would warn that the warmer weather was nothing but a trick of nature, merely delaying the inevitable, temporarily staving off the death of much we see around us, such as the few flowers still clinging to life in those old pots on our front porch or the green vines yet stretching their necks over edges of wooden barrels beside the yard barn. My father sometimes spoke about how the transition of time signaled by those changing leaves, while a gradual exchange of seasons occurred, provided a lesson for all as year’s end approached, but especially for the younger ones among us who may not yet have felt the ravages of age or been touched as much by losing loved ones and friends among each annual toll of the dead.

Today, as I watched my sixteen-year-old son gather mounds of leaves around our house, I was reminded not only of my father’s words, but of those treasured moments I had shared with him so long ago, times that still remain as vivid in my mind as any artistic array of autumn leaves, even those in the famous John Everett Millais painting above, itself titled Autumn Leaves, which had been intended by Millais to invoke nature’s atmosphere and unique power in a manner similar to descriptions composed by his contemporaries, the Romantic poets. In addition, this afternoon, as I helped my son pull stray leaves from remnants of summer’s vegetable garden, I recollected lines in the following poem I’d written that were inspired by comments my father had once spoken.


The autumn air still fills with a bittersweet
scent of burning leaves from a neighbor’s yard.

A thick line of smoke rises over the thinning
trees, climbing high alongside migrating geese,

though curving slightly in whatever warming
breeze we might feel coming from among gusts

blowing just above a stubble of southern fields
and turning further toward the northern border

of this state, where even the lake water remains
unseasonably mild. Often, when I was young,

I wondered why my father sighed each time
he called such a brief reprieve from the cold fall

merely a magician’s trick, but today I catch
myself saying that old phrase much the same way

to my teenage son as we rake our lawn together,
both of us knowing this will not last very long.

I am pleased to note this poem now is included with a couple of my other recent poems (“Burning Leaves” and “Yellow Roses”) in the current issue of The Innisfree Poetry Journal, a fine literary magazine available online, and I invite readers to visit it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great poem.......