Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Happy October

Autumn slips in very slowly, and rather late in the year, in the South of France. The two plane trees in the garden are still sprouting and green, although the small oak has decided that it's time to turn. People are still swimming during the day, but the nights are cooler and we tend to move indoors by around 8.30 rather than our usual 11.

I suppose when we think of autumn we tend to think of change: shorter days, trees becoming bare, fires lit for the first time in months. It's a season of things slowing down.

When I lived in the UK I used to look forward to putting on a thick sweater. There's something quite lovely about being encased in thick wool or cotton when it's cold and blustery outside.

The following poem is from a sequence commissioned by Medway Maritime Hospital to accompany a series of artworks you can still see in the Fracture Clinic Waiting Room - 'The Four Seasons' by Tony Crosse.


This is the gathering –
fields grubbed bare
leaf, flower, seed
settled to mulch.
Winds rattle
the garden’s ghosts.

We light bonfires
to tempt the sun
but the day’s too full
of doubt. At night
the fox’s scream –
the first cold snap.

The four panels are abstract representations of the seasons and are made entirely from materials used in the Clinic:

Here are some ideas for a poem:

1. Write a haiku with an autumn 'kigo' (season word). There's a two part seminar on writing haiku here.

2. Write about slowness. Research the word first for associated ideas.

3. Find an artwork that you really like and write in response to it. Here's a post that appeared earlier in this blog.

I'm in the UK between 7th and 17th October (and I'm really looking forward to catching up with a few of you) so I'll comment on any poems posted when I get back.

Write well.
Lynne x


Keith Wallis said...

the link to the image: http://i69.photobucket.com/albums/i75/elder2000/mw.jpg

Silken waves sweep
salty essence on my cheek.
All the tears in the sea
cannot mend your sadness.
I cannot change those yesterdays
yet tomorrow's vacant canvass beckons;
there is promise in the shadows.
The tide has stolen what might have been,
those plans and dreams
which were not shared.
But, my son,
smiles will return,
laughter ripping through your lungs.
The gleam in your eye will be
the moistening of joy
new pains of love.

Crafty Green Poet said...

fallen leaves -
squirrel leaps onto my knees
to share my lunch

JPK said...



Let the length
of life
stretch before you.
A lazy cat,
claws sheathed,
kneading out
a slow

Days lie ahead
when the sun will warm you.
Catch your breath
at the scent of Lilac.
Nights when a lover's hand
will draw circles
on your skin.

Let them come.


martin cordrey said...

parents house
two mounds of brown leaves
autumn breeze

martin cordrey said...


half shaded
half sunlit
faded maple leaf
in a swollen stream

Keith Wallis said...

I’ve known these trees

I’ve known these trees from childhood
since clambered branches
scavenged knees
and liberated blood.

I’ve know these trees
when wind’s calamity
steals and shapes
and when sun’s spotlight
peers through crowded branch
with welcoming smile.

I’ve know these trees
in ragged Winter, pregnant Spring
and the birthing of Autumn.

Again, October’s kiss
and changing embrace
kidnaps leaf with reds and browns,
sending awestruck words
scampering for expression.

At close of school
others now explore and seek
fondly remembered footholds
sending squirrels to

Martin Cordrey said...

so many passwords, pin numbers
falling chestnuts

Lynne Rees said...

Hello Keith: There's a wonderfully comforting rhythm at times in this, even though the lines are tinged with sadness - 'I cannot change those yesterdays' and 'The tide has stolen what might have been' - and that contrast really works for me. And I like your very short lines in the middle too - the deliberation on my/son/ is lovely.

I think that the language could be made simpler in places though as, for me, strong emotion is carried more effectively in a more straightforward language. So I'd think about 'silken waves' and 'salty essence'.

I'm just about to check the link now.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello CGP - I like the two movements in this, falling and jumping, and the lovely autumn feel the whole haiku has. Could you say 'a' squirrel to make it read more naturally? I also thought that it could work with some trimming:

fallen leaves -
a squirrel shares
my lunch

But it makes it a different haiku. Though it's good to have the option. : )

Lynne Rees said...

Hello JPK - lovely pace to this. Your lineation controls the mood of the poem. I think it's working well as it is - 2 minor quibbles:

1. a possible shift to the present tense at the end:

Nights when a lover's hand
draws circles
on your skin.

To give immediacy.

2. I'm not sure that the exhortation at the end is needed... and perhaps 'Relent' could be the title? (Sorry, that's 3 quibbles!)

Lynne Rees said...

Hello Martin:

1. parents house
2. two mounds of brown leaves
3. autumn breeze

I'd prefer to see this in two parts as opposed to the three parts you have now. You could do it through re-phrasing... it always feels a bit too 'listy' to me when there are 3 separate parts to a haiku. And you have 2 fragments here (1 and 3)

And perhaps 'two mounds' is trying too hard to make a link to the parents too?

Lynne Rees said...

Hello again, Martin:

half shaded
half sunlit
faded maple leaf
in a swollen stream

5 lines but it feels more like a haiku than a tanka. But that's okay. If it works in 5 lines then it can still be haiku-ish. I like the image very much, but it feels a little adjective heavy at the moment. It reminds me of a haiku I wrote a little while back:

between the trees
a buttercup touched
by shade and light

But I prefer your image of the stream.

I think you could either go for trimming it down, or expanding it. And maybe a 5 line tanka would work - think perhaps of a comment/personal statement that might work with this image.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello again, Keith. Ah, trees. They're on my mind because the first thing I noticed when I landed in the UK last week was the trees - how different they are to the trees I'm surrounded by here in the South of France...

Do you know WS Merwin's poem:


I am looking at trees
they may be one of the things I will miss
most from the earth
though many of the ones I have seen
already I cannot remember
and though I seldom embrace the ones I see
and have never been able to speak
with one
I listen to them tenderly
their names have never touched them
they have stood round my sleep
and when it was forbidden to climb them
they have carried me in their branches

From "Trees" by W. S. Merwin, from The Compass Flower. © Macmillan Publishing Company.

Your poem has a similar elegaic quality, though I feel the poem would be more effective without the occasional personnification - e.g. pregnant Spring.

I also noticed the rhymes at the beginning - trees, knees, calamity - and I wondered if the poem is asking for some more rhyme/half rhyme - as a structuring tool.

Lynne Rees said...

@ Martin:

so many passwords, pin numbers
falling chestnuts

I like this, even though the link between the two parts is quite tenuous. I wonder if conkers would work better than chestnuts?

Lynne Rees said...

Thank you for your poems. I'll post another prompt next week.

Lu said...

I know this is late, but...

Leaf viewing

Year after year, in every corner, they fall
at their designated time. Grass still green,
'mums in blossom, without hesitation, they fall.
On fine days, at the last cicada’s cry:
life is dying, dying, by ones, by twos, they fall.
When wind blasts stones, rain brims the pond
pillowful of red, yellow and brown, they fall.
Raking, yet not raking. Every year’s a bonus now.
Nothing’s more punctual than leaves in the fall.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello, Lu - never too late : )

And this is beautiful - elegaic but celebratory in its way too. I really like your structure - the repetition goes well with the subject matter.

The last half of the penultimate line packs an emotional punch and raises the poem far above very well crafted description. There's a sense of a particular life in the poem and it's that identification that I/we look for in poetry, I think.

Good luck with placing this somewhere.

Lu said...

Hello Lynne,

Thank your for reading and commenting. You read me very well. I often have difficulties reading some poems, but it seems you always give pertinent opinions to others' works (at least here).

Your words are very encouraging.

Much appreciated.