• By Jack Dempster

Autumn Ballad


Under the Trees - Thomas Moran (1865)

I.

Leaves of crispy gold and red

drift softly from the sky, falling

down to the frozen ground

without a sound,

to shrivel up and die –

II.

The morning wind then scatters them –

They fly unto a hillside creek,

which like liquid glass

flows down to pass

gurgling to the valley floor –

III.

Your scarf's pulled tight against the wind,

thin sheets of snow thy hair caress –

Around your knees

the frosty breeze

makes your gown flow and tease –

IV.

Against the tempests biting you,

you clutch yourself and shuffle on –

Your high heels click

on old red brick

as you walk thro’ the early pale dawn –

V.

Your sultry gossamer softly flows,

the Bathurst streetcar clanking goes –

We meet, I stroke

your button'd coat,

and taste your lips that taste like snow –


VI.

Today we’ll travel north aways,

t’eschew this lonesome city day –

Alone at last,

long hours will pass:

within a cabin we shall stay –

VIII.

As sweet as apples blooming ripe,

as warm as cider flowing thick,

I’ll slip beneath

your chiffon's sheath,

warming myself in thy fire –

IX.

I’ll taste your dew and stroke your legs,

I’ll listen to your smoky sighs –

I’ll watch thee stare

without a care

deep into a mirror of dreams –

X.

We’ll linger 'gainst the cabin wall

and drink our wine in easiness –

We’ll share our heat

(our love so sweet)

all else seems meaningless –

XI.

We’ll share a heavy blanket warm

afore some flickering flames –

We’ll hide away

thro' all this day,

inside in warmth to cozily stay –


XII.

We’ll play sensual games of tender love,

while listening to the old pines sing,

whilst o'er the hill

with feath'red thrill,

geese to the south take wing –

XIV.

I’ll taste your mouth so rosy red,

and whisper in thy ear –

Whilst golden leaves,

from white oak trees

to frozen ground do fall –


Jack Dempster is an Irish-Ontarian folk poet, musician, and editor. His work has been published for Metro Toronto’s Poetry Challenge (haiku), and in journals including Wunderlit Magazine and Juniper. Jack produces Cascadian Art.