Stephen Spencer: “Desiderata in Autumn”

Desiderata in Autumn

My other senses jeer at the audacity of sight.
Whitman’s “sniff of green leaves and dry leaves”
Is acrid smoke from leaf piles
Set aflame by old men defying the burn ban.

The crunch of leaves on the sidewalk
Under my son’s shoes vexes the peace of silence.
He searches for the largest, driest leaves
That make the loudest sounds.

He crushes a prized sycamore leaf and howls.
The debris of memories raked into the corners of my mind
Will not be the piles he heaps and jumps into,
Gathering and scattering, over and over.

For now, he stomps and laughs.
I smile and say, “That was a good one!”


Stephen Spencer is Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Shepherd University. In his thirty-year career in higher education, he has served as an English professor, Fulbright Fellow in Spain, and administrator at four institutions. He has always been passionate about teaching literature and has published creative and scholarly work in numerous journals and books.

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