Skirting the Eastern Sierra in Autumn–dVerse Open Link Night

Driving South—brilliant orange flambeaux flank velvet blue—Topaz Lake’s smooth skin.
Two weeks later—brittle naked branches stretch, touch gray skies, gray water.



This short poetic form was the creation of Allen Ginsburg. He based it on the Japanese Haiku.
It consists of complete sentences made up of 17 syllables…as many sentences as you like.

This photo doesn’t compare with what I saw driving South on I-395. The trees were a bright cadmium orange on the way down, next to a glass-like aqua lake. I’m kicking myself for not stopping to take a photo. 

I wasn’t able to participate when Gay Cannon posted this for Form for All at dVerse earlier this month, so this is what I’m bringing to the poets’ pub for Open Link Night. Hope to see you there.

Depouillement–Monday Meanderings

Photo: V. Slotto

Photo: V. Slotto

In French, the verb depouiller means to strip or to skin. It’s a harsh word. For me it conjures up images of bleeding or, at the very least, nakedness. It’s the word used to describe what happened to Jesus when they tore his clothes from his body before crucifying him.

That word came to me this morning when, during my quiet time. I sat facing the window, watching as a gentle breeze tore, one-by-one, the leaves from “my” tree. At this moment, the wind has become bitter and that same tree (now the upper branches outside my office window) is letting go of its leaves rapidly. It is being stripped.

I cannot but think of the Buddhist teaching of detachment, a teaching which seems to traverse all philosophies and religions–a concept that faces each of us as we age, begin to lose loved ones, strength, beauty, health, material and physical independence, perhaps even mental acuity. Life is, indeed a series of letting go’s.

I’m not Buddhist, but have always been drawn to many aspects of Buddhist practice. Today I came to understand with a bit more clarity, the importance of non-attachment. I’ve been struggling with an issue that I’ve perceived as a threat to my security and to something I hold dear. It dawned upon me that my attachment to that “something” was impairing my ability to enjoy the happiness of the moment and was messing, not only with my serenity, but also with my sleep. I made the intention to return to the present moment and its many joys. When the moment comes to let go, I hope to be like that tree, allowing the leaves to return to earth and nourish it.

I’m no longer young…or even, by most people’s estimation, middle-aged (though I don’t feel old). It’s time to accept those things in life that must leave us. I know myself well enough to realize that this won’t be the end of my wanting to hold on. But, perhaps, if I let go of the things I cling to, it won’t be quite so painful. Maybe I won’t even bleed.

Have a lovely week. Now I’m on my way outside to rake up some of those leaves.


autumn tears

All the glory of fall—
cloudless blue skies to complement
the orange-red-yellow of the maple
that drops her leaves
on my shoulders and head as I

crouch in cool grass,
slowly stroke stain on thirsty
redwood. The color trickles in rivulets
till I sweep it with my brush.

Life is textured like this wood—
creviced, split, dry,
oh-so-dark in places.
I water it with pain(t).

Here, in my almost-backyard
(not Newton or Columbine or
Virginia Tech),
but here, a teacher and a boy
have fallen, like the leaves,
into a pool of crimson tears.

In memory of the 8th grade teacher, Mike Landsberry, who gave his life today protecting children at the Sparks Middle School shooting, and with thoughts for the young boy who felt so desperate. Prayers as well for the two wounded students and all those who were affected. Sparks is our neighboring community. There is much sadness here today. Linked to dVerse OLN.

Autumn Flame

Photo: David Slotto One of our maple trees (Acer Rubrum)

Photo: David Slotto
One of our maple trees (Acer Rubrum)

When you close your eyes,
pain is red
with orange around the edges
and a sporadic flash of gold,
like the Acer Rubrum
outside your window.

Linked to this morning’s Monday Meanderings prompt: color and mood.


Photo: David Slotto One of our maple trees.

Photo: David Slotto
One of our maple trees.


Photo: David Slotto

Photo: David Slotto


The Scene
Wet grass beneath my body,
piles of leaves gathered nearby,
scents of mold and dried lavender,
apples hanging heavy the tree,
spirits peering through rusty leaves
divining secrets from my past
and present, cradled deep within.

The Character
My stories are mine—
clues hidden beneath the layers
of a serene façade,
exiled from those
who would know my truth.

The Plot
I claw at the bark of the ash tree,
pain racking my used-up body,
then swallow the last three pills.
No rash decision, this.

The End
I chose early autumn last November—
autumn as the season
of dying, of beauty, of letting go,
like seeds entombed in dank soil
waiting to be born again.

This is fictional. I personally do not believe in euthanasia, though I cannot judge other. One point I want to make is that hospice care, focused on symptom management, is an option for pain management. If anyone has questions about hospice, I will be happy to answer them if I can. Just leave them in comments or send me an e-mail.

I wrote this using the words offered by Brenda a The Sunday Whirl and am linking it to dVerse Open Link Night which opens Tuesday, 3:00 PM, EDT. Please join us at either or both of these poetry venues.

By the way, I accidentally posted my draft for this week’s Meeting the Bar. It will be re-posted on Thursday. Sorry about that, but if you received it in e-mail, consider it a heads-up.

Go in Peace



Autumn dropped by early last week,
flirted with the wind,
played hide-and-seek with the quail
sheltered in the spruce tree’s branches,
then finger painted the tips of maple’s leaves.
She jammed with the few remaining crickets
at their farewell concert then took
her leave again. But not before reminding
summer to make peace with dying.

Written for dVerse Poetics where Mary asks us to consider the subject of peace since today is International Peace Day. And linked as well to G-Man’s’s exactly 55 words.

Quaking Aspen–dVerse Meeting the Bar

Quaking Aspen, fall foliage

Quaking Aspen, fall foliage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yellow leaves flutter,
surrender to autumn’s dance,
burnish the blue sky.

Branches stretch out,
tease a foraging quail,
toss gold to the wind.

Before Edit:

I took this from my writing note book. The lines I’m underlining here were strike-through’s. I usually write the first draft in pencil and do some editing as I go along in a very messy, unlined sketch book.

Autumn leaves flutter,
surrender to autumn’s dance
Fall leaves fluttering
in the wind like coins of gold
burnish the blue sky.

Branches stretching out
tease quail
to tease a foraging quail
toss gold leaves to the wind.

Linked to dVerse Meeting the Bar where the prompt today is Editing. I’m hostessing this week and hope you’ll stop by for a draft of poetry!

I’d like to invite you to stop over and read Lorna Lee’s Interview of me. Lorna is a delightfully talented, extraordinarily funny blogger who Lorna’s Voice blog serves as a therapeutic break in a busy day of writing. Oh dear, look at those adverbs. Well, she’s earned them.


Photo Credit: via Google Images

In the corner, by the Ash, leaves pile high.
The hummingbird feeder, empty now,
succumbs to wind, knocks on the side of our house.
Its patrons no longer inhabit the naked tree.

A lone cricket’s cry speaks of its imminent demise.
Color carpets the yard, swirls about me.
Behind the maple a pile of leaves, dry and brittle,
have spent their beauty, crunch beneath my footfall.

Last night I shredded leaves of a journal
written thirty years ago. The past remains a part of me—
its joys and angst, the questions yet unanswered.
Today, the garden’s loss molders, prepares to nourish tomorrow.


Written and linked to dVerse Open Link Night  –with prayers for all of you feeling the effects of Sandy. I was tempted to write of her devastation, but need to reflect a bit more on this difficult situation. I will be on the road Thursday and Friday, driving to Southern California to celebrate my mom’s 92nd birthday. This gives me a chance to meet up with our own Claudia who is nearby. I’m very much looking forward to this opportunity. In the meantime, hope to “see” you all at the poets’ pub tonight.

October Haibun

Hawk, the Messenger,
seeks tomorrow’s sustenance,
dove feasts, unaware.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Recently, a red tail hawk sat on our fence, watching an assortment of jays, robins, quail and doves fattening themselves on the seeds in our garden. Spent cosmos and coreopsis shrugged, let nature have her way.

Autumn smells pungent—
leaves moldering in crannies,
poems forgotten.

Photo Credit:

All the work of putting the garden to bed for the winter has claimed our attention, turning it from creative pursuits. The tasks of autumn bring to mind those chores that face us later in life—clearing away the debris of spent dreams, wasted efforts—preparing the soil for what is yet to come.

Late blooming roses
struggle in October frost,
clash with changing leaves.

Photo Credit: D. Slotto

A few brilliant roses still persist in their efforts to boast their beauty, proving that nature is not as fussy as we are when it comes to choosing the colors she will wear, or what’s deemed appropriate as defined by the expectations of others. Bright pink and orange: how freeing!

Truckee, languid now,
flows gently through our city,
hopes for winter snow.

Photo Credit: Mike Devon

The Truckee river, a block from our home, is feeling the effect of last winter’s drought. It is fed by beautiful Lake Tahoe, flows east through Reno and ends up in Pyramid Lake, home of the Paiute Indians. Snow fell today, just above our elevation, in the Sierra Nevada and it’s possible we may see some tomorrow. Reno is high desert, receiving only 7” of rain annually. We depend on the snowfall in the mountains and at the Lake.

Written for and linked to dVerse Poets’ Open Link Night, hosted by Claudia Schonfeld who I will have the joy of meeting soon! Her California trip coincides with my visit down South for my mother’s 92nd birthday.

I may be late in visiting. Tomorrow I have a minor procedure for which they’ll send me to la-la land. Doubt I’ll be rational enough to give you any valuable comments!

Fall-ing–dVerse Meeting the Bar

Tonight, I will be busy tending the bar at dVerse Poets’ Pub where I’ve mixed things up a bit with prompts dealing with STEAMPUNK and ENJAMBMENT. You are invited to join us, write to either or both of the elements, and sit back to sip poetry and comment on your fellow pub-crawlers. This poem features enjambment. Have fun, every one!

Photo: D. Slotto


sluggish cricket songs
wail a mournful tune,
the demise of summer.

season’s final farmers’ market,
scant, I fear,
green, yellow, orange.

summer ecstasy
“taste my intensity,”
colors of an artist’s palette.