Why Do Poets Like Autumn?

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It's an oldie, but appropriate for the time of year...


Why Do Poets Like Autumn?

Autumn is rain.
Pitiless, bucketing, funeral rain
that makes gutters into rivers
and umbrellas into shreds.
Steaming, fetid rain
tasting of mould and death.

Autumn is roadkill.
Rotting little pools of blood and fur,
once hedgehogs, pheasants, rabbits;
Concertinaed bonnets of Audis
askew across the carriageway,
the wreckage of rush-hours in darkness on aquaplaning roads;
Traffic jams in the dull grey not-quite-dawn
snarled up with Chelsea tractors
dropping their little ones on the double yellow.

Autumn is gardens shrouded in wet leaves,
spent fireworks in gutters,
worm-riddled crab apples and prickly beech mast;
Wet crops rotting in fields of mush,
wellington boots stuck fast in mud,
rusty boughs crumbling in the wind.

Autumn is the season of leaks and hollow fruitlessness,
Close bosom-friend of the depressive,
the garden slug
and Haemophilus influenzae.
Maybe that’s why poets like autumn.
Only the self-indulgent,
        the chronically melancholy,
        the misanthrope
        or the deranged
could take such satisfaction
        from a world of grey
        where the nights just get longer,
        the days get colder
        and all that’s left to look forward to
        is burning the effigy of the only man
        in five hundred years
        who had the right idea
        about what to do with Parliament.

Andy Humphrey

(First published in First Time, issue 50, 2006; appears in my collection A Long Way to Fall (Lapwing, 2013))


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Tim Ellis

Fri 21st Oct 2016 13:39

You need to be sitting where I am now Andy, eating my sandwiches looking along one of Harrogate's tree-lined residential streets. Copper, ruby, gold, bronze, emerald - the vista is ablaze with the resplendence of decay! I'll get around to writing a poem about it one year...

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