• Summer dies, the long days wane away.
    The heat in the sky melts like lead to liquid pools.
    The hills beyond are as white as clay.
    Now creep in the gentle autumn ghouls,
    Trailing behind their silken shawls of Lethe-
    an mist. Shadows warp, gourds enlarge.
    And now what is always there but not
    Quite clear — that blot lurking on the vision’s marge —
    Emerges with the year: unresting death,
    The slow blood sloshing with every breath
    Upon the bone-carved door. The senses clot.

    Blue, blue days, windy days. The brittle clack of
    Leaves and their soft collisions in the dust.
    Dusty smells, leaf-fractured streets, the trees above
    Hissing thinly, like a pit of snakes. Must
    It all be quite so beautiful yet so hard to bear?
    This softly killing air with its furnace blast
    Of fume, its whispered currents of decay,
    Must it seep into my bones? Must it come so fast?
    One by one the rib cages of the leaves tear
    From their stems like wax. Big trees go bare. The glare
    Is great, extinction certain. Life won’t let life stay.

    Now the morning grass lies flat, blanched and cold with frost.
    The sickles swing in the apple trees
    Whose limbs are stiff and leak like ink across
    The voided sky. A chopper fleet of bees
    Sack the throat of the friendly hollyhocks.
    They sweetly sway, but at what cost? At what cost are
    These people-sized flowers born? Why bloom
    At all? To what end? There at the field’s far
    Edge, where scarecrows spill their guts and the pale shocks
    Of corn glow white, the thud of fruit sounds like rocks
    On the hardened earth, and a goat coughs in the gloom.

    The hunt sweeps out. Stag are bled, hung from their hocks
    In the boughs: throat-gashed, reeking, with antlers chipped,
    Disgorging chunked gallons into the groin-high stalks
    Where late the grasshoppers arced and flipped.
    Sweetly sour fall, with all your puffball that glow
    Like alien skulls in the lemon-lime glades,
    Glades choked with moss and mold. Yeasty earth, rains
    Distilling punky tea as color fades
    And hoof prints are raised intaglio
    On the forest floor. Across the ground below,
    Vapor hangs above the stubble plains.

    And scuffed-up apples, so convex
    And so supple, come raining down with muted
    Clops. The cottonwoods are spending gold. Complex
    Odors — woodsmoke, crushed grass, denuded
    Bark — cast a pall. The sun is warm, the water cold,
    Streams die quiet in their empty beds.
    Stout-chested robins with their wind-mussed
    Hair, like shabby Halloween décor, jerk their heads,
    Leer. Last gnats everywhere ignite gold
    In the long last rays of the sun. Old
    Flies fall off. The summer moths have turned to dust.

    We live a little while, a little while
    And we die. Our wings are mutable. This blown-
    Up shadow of me, hinged across a pile
    Of bone-white rocks, and once so small, is now grown
    Tall and unclear, in danger (I fear)
    Of slipping into nothingness. It’s slouched
    And leaning toward the extreme sea wall.
    The eternal surf is booming. Insects crouched
    On wobbly knees stare into the sere
    And melon vault. And do they, too, sense an ending near,
    Or care? Like me, both love and hate this lovely fall?

    The year grows old. A wan crepuscular light.
    Time now for thought, time for bloody autumnal wine.
    Time for walking into the complicated night
    Beneath molten skies and moaning trees that line
    Like sentries the heaved-up, humpbacked, clicking walks.
    Pretty warts of lichen are tattooed all about.
    The squash exudes an oily musk. Gaudy gourds
    Bloat fast, tubers weird and curved like trout
    Beside these utterly lifeless rocks.
    Among a murder of crows, one groks
    From the deathless firs, and crickets strum their chords.

    Is this my soul, then, expiring whitely
    Into the unanimous dusk? The clouds beyond
    Look similar. Harvest moon is lifting lightly
    Within — gorged and pocked, a lobeshaped flaxen-blond
    Or a skull of ice, soaring up new at the dying
    Edge of day, while simultaneously streaks
    Of a burgundy-and-purple sunset slaughter
    Bloom like flowers over the western peaks.
    Snows to come will come soundless, hushing the crying
    World. Full season’s here. The geese are flying
    Like arrows across the icy water.

    October 12th, 2013 | journalpulp | 7 Comments | Tags: , , , , , ,

About The Author

Ray Harvey

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning at the core of my life.

7 Responses and Counting...

  • Sabré 10.12.2013

    Do you ever slam poetry? I, for one, would love to see you do that. Among other things 😉

  • Sabré, my dear, I confess I’ve slammed a number of things in my life — some good, some bad — but, alas, poetry is not one of them.

    I’ll try anything twice, though.

  • P.S. Don’t pay attention to Dave Zoby. His vagina is smarting from last night’s election. Concerning poetry, I happen to know that he has done slams, several, in fact, back when he was in his Beatnik phase. Watch him practice here:

    And watch him brush up on his fellatio here:

  • I’ll handle this for you Ray. Surely, you are too busy with the best sentence contest–

    Dear Sabre,

    Slam Poetry? Are you fucking kidding? Can you imagine Ray reading “The year grows old. A wan crepuscular light” while a latte machine bursts forth with its frothy static? Can you imagine Ray’s voice faltering as the 50-year-old road bike guy flushes the john at the public coffee house and scoots by with his folded copy of The Wall Street Journal? I don’t see any of this happening.

    About this poem: it’s old news. Ray was going around with a version of it in his jeans in the fall of 2003. I had a copy too. In fact, as far as I know, I’m the only one to ever make any use of it. I was on a date weekend with my betrothed in Denver. We had the worst hotel room in the city, mere years from the stink of the waterpark. The South Platte was so thin that year the ducks walked around on sand bars. There was no way for the truly distraught to drown themselves that fall. Anyway, things were not going well with my girlfriend. We went to the Purple Martini and it was what you’d expect. Late that night, I read the above poem to her. I didn’t tell her it wasn’t mine. I just read it. In HER mind, she decided I had written it. She loved it and we made love for hours, as I recall, or at least until the toilet in our room began to ghost flush. That’s art, baby. That’s how it works.

    Yes, it’s a fine poem, crows groking, tubers looking like trout, but I alone am the only one ever to make any real use of it.


  • Dave, if Ray were to slam his poetry, it would be the poetry he wrote for the slam…not something he wrote to read or be read in his usual cadence, nor his usual soothing and sexy voice….it would be a slam poem, and YES, I can indeed imagine him performing, coffee house or bar, ghost flushing toilet or espresso machine in the background…I can visualize this with great clarity, in fact. His passion, his edge, his depth…yeah. I stand by my fantasy and fancy of this idea.

    Ray, the video of Dave…interesting venue for recitation of his poem…certainly no flush of the toilet in the background. But it’s not a slam…

  • Dear Sabre,

    I too appreciate that Ray posted the above clip, but it’s not necessary. It was a creative project my friend Gerton Govers was doing in the Netherlands. He asked me to read some poetry, and I thought, what’s the big deal. It meant a free ticket to Amsterdam. Gerton said my voice was masculine, American to the extreme, exactly what he was looking for. Anyway, you are correct, it’s not slam poetry. It’s just regular American poetry. I’ll post the text below so you can see that there’s nothing to fear.

    When I was writing poems like this in Richmond, circa 1991, even the homeless men, unwashed and smarting from sleeping in the park, seemed to go about with a patina of holiness about them. The James River was so dry that summer, the falls rotated the same lone flip-flop, churned the same dross of fast food joints all day. In the hot woods, teenagers made love on towels. I was there to write poems and bar tend. You’d write a poem, such as “Fall Without You”, and you’d move on. Sure, it might occupy your mind for a few months–maybe you’d return to it and tweak it–but you moved on, like the river, the best you could. There was no reason to read it out loud in a shitty bistro between AA meetings, or at someone’s house when they’d rather be watching Cosby. I’ve never understood slam poetry, or the impulse to place a plastic bull head on one’s own head and read someone else’s poetry. I never understood that sort of thing. But each person is entitled to their own artistic fetish, right?

    RE: Ray’s Voice
    Sexy. Really? I find it pleading, corporate. I’ll say this, his reading of the Hughes poem is terrific. But in the end, it leaves me with the urge to purchase something.

    Fall without You

    A spray of birds at the suet,
    I’m crashing ankle-deep through leaves
    As I walk the neighborhoods,
    Slowly past the abandoned forge,
    Where old Navy ships, retired
    And rust-worn, witness the slack
    And pull of changing tides.
    Their chains catch debris
    And churn current. The sky solders.
    Clouds slip and seagulls nap
    On the huge dome of broken oyster shells.
    I imagine your face as snow strikes it,
    Your lashes, and lips, I swear,
    Were like saltwater, and I return to the shore
    Of you and stand. No ships come in.
    None go out, but the tide swings again
    And my dog at my side, loyal as always,
    Takes the scented air deep and mulls it
    In her aging chest. My own chest
    Hurts at the thought of you, distant,
    In a bar perhaps, with wine on your breath,
    And that blue dress which when we turned out the lights,
    And stood together at the open sill,
    Swelled in the wind like the sea.


  • Closed head injury I am yet not aware of?
    That or this some Martin Mull-like humor.
    Reminds me of when he was goofing with
    a mayonnaise jar as a lap guitar slide and it fell off
    into the weeds. Super Dave stuff. So, if that
    what you were going for, well done.

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