December 10, 2017

Three Poems by Harry Youtt: Late Afternoon Autumn," "Even the Autumn Leaves," and "One of Those Days"

Harry Youtt is a frequently published poet, essayist, and writer of short stories. He is a long-time faculty member in the UCLA Extension Writers Program, where he teaches courses and conducts workshops in fiction writing, memoir writing, and poetry. He is author of several poetry collections, including Getting Through, Elderverses, and Outbound for Elsewhere.


Late Afternoon Autumn

The lesson the trees have learned:
How leaves that greened us, now falling
and piling husks at our feet—
blend and send of their last hopes, blessings.

And the light: Mottled rays that speckle
onto slender pine, standing oak and aspen,
final sparkle of brilliance,
just before the sun slides down and away,

The two lovers hurrying past,
her gesturing hands catching a final glint,
the maples now resigning to the new night cold
and taking down the promise of the light.

Crisping leaves now falling—heads and tails –
it doesn’t matter which—mixing, and underfoot-crunching
in clear, cold, late day—promising frost and then,
after the chill of deep night’s journey into darkness—

lamplight beckoning,
and glowing stove comfort
for a long and sheltered evening.

Even the Autumn Leaves

Even the autumn leaves
are turning colors more vivid
than the ones we imagined last year.

Even the autumn leaves remain for a time,
brilliant, forming new visions,
blazing into the year’s final season.

Even the autumn leaves, now nearly brown,
crackling brittle under foot, withering,
about to be swept away forever.

Even the autumn leaves remember the springtime,
now about to be forgotten, dismissed,
crossed from lists, but on second thought, not quite.

Even the autumn leaves enjoy the waning warmth
of brilliant sunshine days, as the days shorten
into the winter we never saw coming.

Even the autumn leaves, bitter implication
of an afterthought, now on the brink of disappearance:
grapes, corn, pumpkins, even the autumn leaves.

Even the autumn — leaves, syntax changing,
noun becoming exit-verb as if by magic,
season sadly disappearing into winter.

And Even — by itself, then flutters finally alone,
down into its own multiple meanings,
expanding into the real evening, end of the day.

Even - by itself some sort of leveling word
a cutting-off, all of us down at last to a common size,
as a reaper would cut: even, right here at the ending.

One of Those Days . . .

One of those late days when the sun
and the almost-full moon
are showing in the same quiet sky.
The sun in form of a dark orange ball,
tired and poising itself to slide beneath
a jagged rock-mountain horizon.

The moon beginning to climb high
and follow the sun over --
silver and nearly-round
and only just a little out of true,
as if it needs to be turned
on a slow-spinning lathe
and trimmed by the glinting tool
in an artisan’s hand.

And you realize it is this way, many days,
the orange ball becoming smaller now,
and disappearing, leaving only a trail
of after-lit cloud wisps, and a shimmering blue
the color of nothing you can imagine,
except perhaps the blue of
this time the evening before.

Now, only the moon peers down,
with a frown that is eons old,
and that mouth that is always
mouthing to you some form of “Ohhhh” --
or possibly some portion of the phrase: “Of course!”

One of those days when all this is happening at once –
hanging there deep in the sky --
just for the asking.

Harry Youtt

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