Jeff Burt

Hunting in October

No red smoking shells
on the spent harvest grass

no aromatic pleasure
of gunpowder

no wild hounds baying
moon-high notes

just me looping
easy figure eights

hoping to knot
the raccoon in the middle

on a bare bleached

and the cold moon
chasing us both


I say that nature starts over in spring
but really it’s in autumn when storage
in the trunk is completed and the branches
are all stretched out from reaching summer.
Dried and hardened, leaves do not fall
as much as they are tenderly pushed overboard,
have become so weak and rigid
they seem to have accepted their fate,
and the ones that cling don’t look heroic
but stubbornly out of place.

There’s no message here for me,
I am linear, not cyclic
despite what mystics and shamans say.
My body has no starting over,
no re-formation, rejuvenation.

When leaves fall, I rake and bend to retrieve,
at the same time imagine suturing them
like a lost limb back onto the body of a branch,
eternality achieved by a crude science,
look at my hands dried and roughened by age.
Hands harden, soft at birth,
almost without flesh at death.

When leaves fall, at times I stand still,
hunched on the rake,
count my fingers one to ten.


Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California and works in mental health. He has work in Young Raven’s Review, Rabid Dog, Terrene, The Monarch Review, and Verse Virtual, and won the 2017 Cold Mountain Review Poetry Prize.

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