All Souls Day was Monday. So why post a poem by that title today?
You see Mondays are my day off from the day job in Woodstock. I get off my weekend overnight shift at the gas station and get home about 6 am. I hop on the computer, check my e-mail and Facebook pages and try to get the day’s blog post up. Sometimes I still have writing to do. Hell sometimes I have a lot of writing if it was a busy weekend. I struggle to finish before I crash at the keyboard. This week wasn’t too bad. The post on the Spokane Free Speech Fight just needed a little tweaking and I had to hunt up the illustrations. After getting that up and a bit of breakfast, I hit the sack.
Around noon I stumbled out of bed to pee—hey, I’m an old man and can’t go more than a couple of hours without an urgent drain. While up I wandered into the kitchen for a drink and went to the front door to see if the mail had come. I opened that door to a dazzling, day. Brilliant, cloudless sky. Golden sunlight. Almost balmy air stirred by a pleasant breeze. The trees just past peak still offered glorious color. It might have been the first week of November, but here in northern Illinois we were getting the first day of a string of mild, pleasant, almost summer-like days. I took it all in, then closed the door and wandered back to bed.
I had not been there log, dozing a little, when my eyes snapped open. A phrase had popped into my head and was stuck there. I lay in bed for several minutes as it looped in my head. I knew it was trying to break out into a poem. This kind of thing has happened before. I usually roll over and go back to sleep telling myself that I will remember it when I get up. I never do. This time I got up and went to my study where I got the small lined note pad that I keep next to the computer for notes. I scrawled the line down in my barely decipherable scratching and lay the pad and my trusty pen on the night table next to the bed.
Over the next few hours I snapped awake at intervals with new lines which I added to the pad. By the time I go up in the early evening there was a complete, if short poem. I had no idea if it even made any sense. I scanned it from my bed and laid it back down on the table. I had things to do—fill the bird feeders, start a pot of chili for dinner, and work on Tuesday’s blog post about Godzilla. I wanted to be done so I could settle down uninterrupted for my Monday guilty pleasure Dancing With the Stars—you can beat me now. My wife Kathy came home from her job as a Religious Education Director at a large Catholic parish well after 9 exhausted from a long day. Together we ate chili and watched something she had DVRed. Then I went back to bed to try and get on the schedule for the day job. I would get up again about 3 am to work some more on the blog post before going back to bed a final time for an hour or so.
The poem that wrote itself still sat on the night table. I almost forgot about it until yesterday when I noticed it laying there. I read it over. Surprisingly, it had some structure and even logical flow. It was a trifle, a nature observational—surely the least fashionable of all poetry these days—with a mild twist. But it was a complete poem. I didn’t even need to edit it except for line breaks when I typed it out. Although one or two of my poems were rooted in dreams, or even included a line or so from them, this was the only one that was created this way.
So late or not, I will share it today.
By the way, I will be reading some of my poetry—all new material finished in the last few months and probably including this one—at the Haystacks Coffee House Jam and Open Mic at the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road in McHenry this Friday, November 6. The show starts at 7 pm. And don’t worry, there will be plenty of talented musicians to wash away the memory of my verse. Admission is free but a free will collection will be taken. Hope to see some of you there.
All Soul’s Day
November 2, 2015
McHenry County, Illinois
It would be Indian Summer
if we ever had a frost.
The trees hereabouts are caught
in mid-regret having
dropped half of their
orange and saffron gowns.
We could call the breeze
that cut the golden noon
a zephyr and not blush
for being old fashion.
What a rare, fine day
for All Souls to promenade,
marigolds as boutonnieres
and garlands for their hair.