October 2, 2016

Samuel Hughes


Fall comes on like a war or a presidency,
and I, who have been anticipating it since May,
get my flannel shirts out of the trunk immediately,
even if most days it is still too warm for them
and my neighbor with his shirt off will probably persist
drinking and listening to country music in his driveway
until after the first snow. I admit I decorate myself
like a grade school teacher’s bulletin board,
the cardboard leaves in red and yellow and brown,
bought from Michaels, tacky, unnatural and glossy,
but meant to be instructive to the children,
like the loopy cursive alphabet above the whiteboard.

Fall comes on like a war or a presidency,
and it is election season. The first debate
was almost a week ago and it is still the only news,
the online journals arranging each day
new articles each day more dire, out of
what we all watched together, and shrugged at the end,
having seen even more of what we expected than
we could have imagined, and wondered
if this exercise in democracy was really worth
sacrificing our other more fun plans for the evening.

Fall comes on like a war or a presidency.
A hundred years ago, the war was still on,
and in Paris, before the génération was properly perdue,
the aging newspapermen and generals too old to be of use
were saying already how everything was changed forever,
and still, consumptives and aristocrats talked genealogies
in cafés and in the drawing rooms of women
who wore their flowers now in empty bullet casings.

Fall comes on like a war or a presidency,
and I can sometimes be caught saying
that this is what I love about Vermont, the way
the seasons really change, and my instructive
wools and flannels here are articles of survival,
not like back home, and I can sometime be caught
saying this to someone in a t-shirt that reads,
“I Stand With Standing Rock,” or, “Black Lives Matter,”
or, “Bernie Sanders For President,” and sometimes,
we both shudder, probably from the night air,
which is chilly now, though not so much
that you can’t still wear a t-shirt.

Poets Respond
October 2, 2016

[download audio]


Samuel Hughes: “This is a transcript of me being anxious for the past few days after watching the debate last Monday.”