Monday, October 31, 2011

As Midnight Approaches

"Shadows of a thousand years
rise again unseen.
Voices whisper in the trees,
'Tonight is Halloween!' "

(verse from greeting card;
photograph from Jay Beets)

Puff the Magic Dragon

My British - sister - in - law is here
to experience an American Halloween, and she did
half the work on this dragon - o - lantern last night.
Thanks Tina McFadyen!

. . . and thanks to my British father - in - law,
Ron McCartney who came over last month and bought me
this new scarecrow for the front yard. Cute!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Darkness Falls

Both by Scottish Landscape Artist,
Joseph Farquharson, 1846 - 1935

"The supper dishes are over and the sun
unaccustomed to anything else
goes all the way down."

American Poet, Anne Sexton, 1928 - 74
from her poem, "Lament"

For more pictures and poems
about the close of day
see my new post

As Darkness Falls Into Light
on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Dylan Thomas

"My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In a rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days"

by Welsh Poet Dylan Thomas
27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953


"Poem in October"
Read by Dylan Thomas

see also

"Poem on His Birthday"
"Dark is a way and light is a place . . . "
Birthday Blog


"Especially When the October Wind"
" . . . Some let me make you of autumnal spells . . . "

Rainy Autumn Paintings, here and above
by Leonard Orr

Additional Leonard Orr paintings
featured previously on this blog:

Excellent Images

Golden Paintings by Leonard Orr

End of Summer Sounds

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Harvesting Walnuts

The Large Walnut Tree at L'Hermitage, 1875
by French Impressionist Camille Pissarro, 1830 - 1903

We'll go on as always harvesting walnuts

on our hands and knees,
and die voicelessly
as a sedan full of cigar smoke
sinking under a bridge.
We'll turn slowly, flowers
in the mouths of drowned cattle
In a dawn of burned fields,
the sun disappoints you,
and the blight you begin to remember
is me.
Like an Alp overlooking a corpse
I explain nothing.

Larry Levis, 1946 - 1996
Award - winning American professor and poet

For more "harvesting" poems
by Robert Frost and Larry Levis

see my recent post Apples, Leaves, Walnuts

on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

Walnut trees at the end of our driveway

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Multifarious Gaieties

Vintage Sheet Music
from composer Hans Engelmann (1872 - 1914)


"October, that season of tea parties
that ushered in the multifarious gaieties
of the winter."

~ a lovely seasonal observation ~
from British writer E. F. Benson, 1867 - 1940
from his droll and witty novel Queen Lucia,
whose high - spirited protagonists are always partying!

Speaking of which . . .

Present for my sister - in - law Marion
a few Christmases ago
Oktoberfest Barbie
[still available on]

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tu - whit! Tu - whoo!

Perfect Project for a dark rainy day:
first Jack - o - Lantern of the Season!

"When all aloud the wind doth blow . . .

Then nightly sings the staring owl


Tu-whit, tu-whoo! -- a merry note!"

William Shakespeare
from Love's Labour's Lost

The Full Hunter's Moon: Early Morning, 14 October 2011
Exactly One Week Later: Goodbye Moon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October, Baseball, and Cats

"Fall in Pennsyltucky"
photograph by Bruce Carriker

photographer's note: "Sort of Americana, no?
And yes, that is Gobbler's Knob in the background.
Good for you for paying attention!"

In honor of the World Series, I dedicate this blog post to my twin brother Bruce. In autumns past, he has sent me the following two poems: one in which October itself is described in terms of a baseball game; and one in which we learn what our sports - minded feline friends are daydreaming about!

the high fly ball,
arches out above left field,
hangs there in the sky
outblazing the sun
while fifty thousand heads swings and cry
"Over the wall! Over the wall!"

then hold, fixed and dumb
as the ball drops
down and down, a dead bird
into a waiting glove

and there you have it: the song,
the flight, the perilous whisper of truth
or of love or possibly of faith

then the descent
and the end of the game

by Hester Jewell Dawson

[I could locate no biographical information on Dawson,
other than this brief reference in the Baseball Almanac;
if anyone knows more, please share!]

What The Cat Contemplates
While Pretending to Clean Herself

So attentive
to her paws
she seems
leaning over
but thinking
not about what dirt
has climbed under her claws.
No, the cat sees herself
sternly stepping to the plate
spitting in her paw palms
and gripping the bat just so.
With the look of feline indifference
she tends to one final itch
before staring down the pitcher
in the last instant before delivery.

When she rubs
her wet cat wrist
behind her furry ear
you'd think she had a spot
of mud there
or a flea
but really
the cat is signaling
the runner at first
to stretch that lead a little further down the baseline.

By the time
she is perched
on her hind legs
lapping at the fur
of her underside
the cat is sliding safely
into home.

by Nancy Boutilier
from On the Eighth Day Adam Slept Alone
© Black Sparrow Press

Another view of scenic Pennsylvania,
this one taken by my sister, Peggy Carriker Rosenbluth

photographer's note: "Beautiful fall picture.
Maybe I'll get this made into a jigsaw puzzle.
Taken on the way to Fulton County Folk Festival
Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ten Thousand Thousand

Stilleben Mit Fruchtschale
At the Hannover Landesmuseum
By Prague Artist Emil Orlik, 1870 - 1937

In each of these two excerpts from the poetry of Robert Frost , the honorable farmer is so solicitous, so respectful of his crops, so determined that none should be wasted or disrespected. The apple farmer cherishes each of his "ten thousand thousand fruit," while the woodsman, in response to the city buyer's casual proposition to purchase his wild pines, marvels at "A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!"

from After Apple - Picking

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.

from Christmas Trees

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

[Click to read entire poem]

Illustration by Garth Willlams
from A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder

At first I wondered what Frost meant by "Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools / Could hang enough on to pick off enough."
Then I remembered the Little House story of Christmas on Plum Creek, and the big tree in the church covered with popcorn, mittens, boots -- hung with enough surprises for everyone to pick one off.

Even better, my mother sent me this incredible old photograph from the early 1900s (she's guessing somewhere between 1900 - 1904). On the back, in my grandmother's elegant cursive, is the notation: "Our Christmas Tree at the Evangelical Church in Emporia, Kansas." I was initially perplexed by the perspective. Was that a set of doll furniture underneath the elaborately festooned tree? No! That is an arched window to the left, then the pulpit, appearing tiny in comparison to the gigantic tree, with pews in front and to the right. How tall is that tree? Twenty feet? Who climbed up there to hang all that popcorn and lace? I guess that's what Frost means by a regular vestry tree!

For more "harvesting" poems
by Robert Frost and Larry Levis

see my recent post Apples, Leaves, Walnuts

on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Fairies and Elves Pick Apples
by English Illustrator Arthur Rackham, 1867 - 1939

An autumnal sense of resignation permeates the poem "After Apple - Picking" by Robert Frost. I like the way that he is "done with apple - picking now" not because the job is entirely finished -- since, in fact, it's not: "there's a barrel that I didn't fill" and "may be two or three / Apples I didn't pick" -- but because he has just had enough; he's "overtired." Even though there may be a few odds and ends not yet tied up, the time for this particular enterprise has come to an end: "Essence of winter sleep is on the night."

" . . . there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight . . ."

For more "harvesting" poems
by Robert Frost and Larry Levis

see my recent post Apples, Leaves, Walnuts

on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day Dreams, Night Dreams

Some dreams are day dreams,

but my dreams are night dreams . . .
. . . night dreams . . .
. . . night dreams.

short poem by Jaren Dahlstrom
*ellipses in original, as found in
Begin Sweet World: Poetry by Children (1976)
editing and photography by
John Pearson

P.S. 48 hours later & I must add a coda
in the form of this photograph that I took
after yesterday's rain. . . not a leaf remains . . . well, maybe one or two

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Always Autumn

Photograph by Ben McCartney

"The suspicion that even God is partial to autumn
has overwhelmed others,
including John Donne, who enthused:
"In Heaven, it is always Autumn."

comment by American Essayist,
Frank Trippett, 1926 - 98

Click to read the entirety of Trippett's excellent autumnal essay --
ranging in topic from ancient harvest legends
to the U. S. Consitition to the World Series --
"A Season for Hymning and Hawing"
from Time Magazine Archives
Monday, Sept. 19, 1977


In the original words of
John Donne, 1572 - 1631
English Metaphysical Poet
from a sermon preached Christmas Day, 1624

. . . in heaven it is always autumn, his mercies are ever in their maturity. We ask panem quotidianum today if you will hear his voice Psalm 95: 7], today he he will hear you. . . . He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy summer out of winter, though thou have no spring, though in the ways of fortune, or understanding or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied til now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon to illustrate all shadows, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries . . .
[emphasis added]


and inspired by Donne's sermon,
this lovely fall reverie by American Poet
Elizabeth Spires (b 1952)

In Heaven It's Always Autumn

In heaven it is always autumn. The leaves are always near
to falling there but never fall, and pairs of souls out walking
heaven’s paths no longer feel the weight of years upon them.
Safe in heaven’s calm, they take each other’s arm,
the light shining through them, all joy and terror gone.
But we are far from heaven here, in a garden ragged and unkept
as Eden would be with the walls knocked down, the paths littered
with the unswept leaves of many years, bright keepsakes
for children of the Fall. The light is gold, the sun pulling
the long shadow soul out of each thing, disclosing an outcome.
The last roses of the year nod their frail heads,
like listeners listening to all that’s said, to ask,
"What brought us here? What seed? What rain? What light?
What forced us upward through dark earth? What made us bloom?
What wind shall take us soon, sweeping the garden bare?"
Their voiceless voices hang there, as ours might,
if we were roses, too. Their beds are blanketed with leaves,
tended by an absent gardener whose life is elsewhere.
It is the last of many last days. Is it enough?
To rest in this moment? To turn our faces to the sun?
To watch the lineaments of a world passing?
To feel the metal of a black iron bench, cool and eternal,
press against our skin? To apprehend a chill as clouds pass
overhead, turning us to shivering shade and shadow?
And then to be restored, small miracle, the sun shining brightly
as before? We go on, you leading the way, a figure
leaning on a cane that leaves its mark on the earth.
My friend, you have led me farther than I have ever been.
To a garden in autumn. To a heaven of impermanence
where the final falling off is slow, a slow and radiant happening.
The light is gold. And while we’re here, I think it must be heaven.

[See also: poem for summer]


Lastly, this elegiac concluding passage
from the novel Cold Mountain by American novelist
Charles Frazier (b. 1950)

Ada had tried to love all the year equally, with no discrimination against the greyness of winter, its smell of rotted leaves underfoot, the stillness in the woods and fields. Nevertheless, she could not get over loving autumn best, and she could not entirely overcome the sentimentality of finding poignancy in the fall of leaves, of seeing it as the conclusion to the year and therefore metaphoric, though she knew the seasons came around and around and had neither inauguration nor epilogue" (355).

Earlier in the novel, Frazier refers to
"a day so autumnal that to write anything
about it would be to engage in elegy"

Sunday, October 9, 2011


A good day to buy
wine - colored chrysanthemums.
And wine. Beautiful!

~ Autumn Haiku by Burnetta, Karen & Kitti ~

from "The Golden Flower"
from The Complete Poetical Works
of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809 - 94)

Soft was the violet's vernal hue,
Fresh was the rose's morning red,
Full-orbed the stately dahlia grew,--
All gone! their short-lived splendors shed.
The shadows, lengthening, stretch at noon;
The fields are stripped, the groves are dumb;
The frost-flowers greet the icy moon,-- *
Then blooms the bright chrysanthemum.

*Coming soon to a night sky near you . . . The Full Hunter's Moon

Drink Up!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Office Sunrise

Sunrise from Office Window
photograph by Gerry McCartney, taken earlier this week

" . . . What would a blind man not give to see this glory and handiwork! And what a sight for indifferent men with two good eyes to sleep through! If there were but one sunrise in every century, no one would miss it; all beds would be empty while people waited out - of - doors to behold the flaming wonder."

American writer, Fulton Oursler, 1893 - 1952
author (along with his son Will Oursler) of the novel
Father Flanagan of Boys Town
(see also the movie Boys Town, starring Spencer Tracy)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Quotidian Pillow Book

"The Pillow Book"
Sei Shonagon, painted by Hisashi Otsuka

"On the day after a fierce autumn wind
everything moves one deeply.
The garden is in a pitiful state
with all the bamboo and lattice fences knocked over
and lying next to each other on the ground.
It is bad enough if the branches of one of
the great trees have been broken by the wind;
but it is a really painful surprise
to find that the tree itself has fallen down and is
now lying flat over the bush-clover and the valerians."

On my recent book blog,
I mentioned that
Ruth L. Ozeki's novel
My Year of Meats,
is filled with numerous references to
The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon.

Shonagon (c. 966 -1017) lived at the Japanese court during the Heian period and kept a journal -- her famous Pillow Book --

" . . . filled with odd facts, stories from the past, and all sorts of other things, often including the most trivial material. On the whole I concentrated on things and people that I found charming and splendid, my notes are also full of poems and observations on trees and plants, birds and insect. . . . it is written entirely for my own amusement, and I put things down exactly as they came to me"
(from The Pillow Book, emphasis added).

Most famous are her quirky, descriptive, insightful lists, such as Lovely Things, Hateful Things, & Things that make you feel nostalgic." One of my favorites is

Things That Pass by Rapidly:
A boat under full sail.
Age. Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter.

If you search google for images of Sei Shonagon,
this picture pops up a few times, but unfortunately
without any information on artist, title, or date

Monday, October 3, 2011

Leaves Turning

Amazing Autumnal Photography by Jay Beets



Every October it becomes important, no, necessary
to see the leaves turning, to be surrounded
by leaves turning; it's not just the symbolism,
to confront in the death of the year your death,
one blazing farewell appearance, though the irony
isn't lost on you that nature is most seductive
when it's about to die, flaunting the dazzle of its
incipient exit, an ending that at least so far
the effects of human progress (pollution, acid rain)
have not yet frightened you enough to make you believe
is real; that is, you know this ending is a deception
because of course nature is always renewing itself —
the trees don't die, they just pretend,
go out in style, and return in style: a new style.


Is it deliberate how far they make you go
especially if you live in the city to get far
enough away from home to see not just trees
but only trees? The boring highways, roadsigns, high
speeds, 10-axle trucks passing you as if they were
in an even greater hurry than you to look at leaves:
so you drive in terror for literal hours and it looks
like rain, or snow, but it's probably just clouds
(too cloudy to see any color?) and you wonder,
given the poverty of your memory, which road had the
most color last year, but it doesn't matter since
you're probably too late anyway, or too early —
whichever road you take will be the wrong one
and you've probably come all this way for nothing.


You'll be driving along depressed when suddenly
a cloud will move and the sun will muscle through
and ignite the hills. It may not last. Probably
won't last. But for a moment the whole world
comes to. Wakes up. Proves it lives. It lives —
red, yellow, orange, brown, russet, ocher, vermilion,
gold. Flame and rust. Flame and rust, the permutations
of burning. You're on fire. Your eyes are on fire.
It won't last, you don't want it to last. You
can't stand any more. But you don't want it to stop.
It's what you've come for. It's what you'll
come back for. It won't stay with you, but you'll
remember that it felt like nothing else you've felt
or something you've felt that also didn't last.

by Lloyd Schwartz

Copyright © 1992 by Lloyd Schwartz
From Goodnight, Gracie
(The University of Chicago Press, 1992)

Jay Beets: Sunrise Color

Saturday, October 1, 2011