Order of the Autumn Battle

For once, Labor Day has heralded not only the traditional end of summer but also the meteorologic beginning of fall here in the Bluegrass. Usually, the summer burns right on through the holiday weekend into the later weeks in September and the 100 degree highs of Saturday gave no indication to the contrary. Abruptly, however, fall decided summer had had enough fun in the sun and made it’s presence known flaunting 60 degree highs and a Seattle-esque drizzle here to stay for the week.

One of my favorite escapes when I lived at home in my first semester of college was to walk a trail back behind the once tobacco fields, into the woods, and across a mini ridge to a point overlooking a valley to the next ridge top. I used to walk it for exercise, for my dog Josie’s companionship, for the isolation of the lichen bed, or the thought-drowning locusts. I only shared the area with those who really mattered. It was in the persistent heat sitting in the moss that I wrote this poem eight years ago.

Order of the Autumn Battle

I made the pilgrimage with pagan’s eyes
Four days before the Harvest Moon.
Bore the scourges and lances of the gauntlet path
In bloody homage to forest sprites.
Perched on a point in the arms of a martyr,
I took vigil and waited for the answer tides to come.
Drunk on sacred fumes
Of fermenting past,
I heard the Priests’ whispers:
Rumors of defrocment
Passed down by sky of primal ochre hue.
An oath swore by all, united
To don the warrior dress
Cast off the demure greens
In defiance and in favor
Of the scarlet-yellow
Tunics of the Golden War to come.
Amid the battle cry of locust drums,
I stole east to tamer lands
As the blood spilled at my back.

Printed in Inscape 2007

One of the original blog challenges we considered for the Errant Easel project was to post two works from the past, one of which you were still proud and one of which you weren’t. I immediately thought of this poem for my pride piece. However, on review of the material with eyes nearly a decade more well-read, I see the weakness in the poem end, the lack of actual development, the awkwardness of the last line and a lot of awkward grammar. And I posted it here anyway. One of the hardest things for me to get comfortable with sharing on this blog is my writing. So what if I can’t paint a photorealistic flower, I’m not a painter. But if I can’t write exactly what I mean and evoke the appropriate emotion from the audience then I feel the failure much more acutely, because if I have any creative strengths they are granted by the pen. However, If I refuse to write, paint or experiment for fear of imperfection, I’m never going to get anything done. So there, if I can post this, I can post almost anything. May the writing commence and the anxiety subside with practice!

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