Ars Poetica: Late Autumn Jazz
All afternoon chopping wood, gray skies
spitting snow. Chili on the stove: garlic,
ancho and chipotle steaming in
canned tomatoes from the garden. Fleece hat,
gloves, and T-shirt. Sweat and the sting of cold
on damp skin. Juncos and chickadees peck
at seeds and cones, flip and scratch dried leaves.
All afternoon chopping wood, thinking
of Mingus, that bass line running
steady but wild through the manic improv,
the iambs and variations, the slap
and vibrato. There is no metronome,
only the heart beating its way toward home.
Solo Camping Late in the Season
A last heron slips through the soundless twilight;
an owl calls from the distance, and coyotes
begin their chorus across the bare November fields.
There’s something clarifying about moonlight
on water just before the lakes have frozen,
a cold breeze across your face. It’s not easy
to be authentic; sometimes we’re so busy
trying to be someone else, posing
for photos no one sees. When I lose myself I
watch the wind ripple reflections that settle
slowly back into wholeness. It’s a riddle
I suppose, like the last crackle of campfire
embers, the last swirls of smoke before dawn.
Listen and the stars begin to whisper your name.
Glenn Freeman has degrees from Vermont College and the University of Florida. His collection of poems, Keeping the Tigers Behind Us, was published by Elixir Press. He has had poems published in journals such as Poetry, The Florida Review, The Cimarron Review, and The Lullwater Review. He lives in Iowa and teaches at Cornell College.