“First Cold Night Of Autumn” — a poem by John Stupp

November 26th, 2020

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“Bare Trees at Sundown, Cooper Mountain” by Bob Hecht

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First Cold Night Of Autumn

In the mountains
trees practice for winter,
dropping their leaves.
Birds, like thin farmhands,
sweep down on rutted back roads,
begging for food.
It’s Thanksgiving.
I’m driving north to Montana
listening to Coltrane
in a ’68 Buick
with a heater that doesn’t work,
past fields that slip away in the mist,
crusted over with the heapage of summer.
Soon the sun will burn
frost smoke clear as ice.
Snow will come as white cloth
bandaging hills with silence.
Trees will be smooth again.

Tonight villages
huddle along the road for warmth.
Their half-open gates
rusted cold until next year,
cry out in the night wind
then they give up and sleep.
Only smoke from a cog-railroad
makes petals in the air over the Rockies,
a flower garden to open somewhere,
after a deepening Christmas

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…………………..An earlier version appeared in the Seattle Review

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John Stupp’s third poetry collection Pawleys Island was published in 2017. His manuscript Summer Job won the 2017 Cathy Smith Bowers Poetry Prize and was published in August 2018. A chapbook entitled When Billy Conn Fought Fritzie Zivic was published by Red Flag Poetry in January, 2020. (From 1975-1985 he worked professionally as a mediocre jazz guitarist). He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and can be reached via email at [email protected].

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Robert Hecht is a photographer, writer and jazz radio host. His photography has been exhibited internationally and published in  The Sun, Zyzzyva, LensWork, Black & White,  and other publications. His photo work can be seen at www.roberthecht.com.

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Listen to a 1961 recording of John Coltrane playing “I’ll Wait and Pray,” with Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and Jimmy Cobb (drums)

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2 comments on ““First Cold Night Of Autumn” — a poem by John Stupp”

  1. John: You captured that era. I had a 72 Cutlas Conv. I drove up there about that time.
    I was writing poetry at night by a bad campfire. I thought it would be warmer, under the
    car. I froze to death. Next morning, I thawed out to Oscar Peterson, and Ray Brown, doing
    about 100 heading south for sure. Best, Alan

  2. John,

    “The First Cold Night of Autumn” is a fine poem. Impressive, highly imagistic work, with a compelling narrative flow. It is inevitably a pleasure to encounter work of yours.

    Michael L. Newell

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