Changing Seasons

by Peter Halpin
Wild Poetry Forum
Honorable Mention, January 2016
Judged by Lee Slonimsky


A while back my sister told me
my dad couldn’t dance,
he would hobble around the living room
with a broom trying to foxtrot,

When the leaves of autumn fall
I move the patio chairs inside
not wanting them to get leaf full
and then of course there are the geese.

I couldn’t imagine it, him dancing
with a broom, not the tight-arsed
paragon I remember. She also said
he didn’t believe –just went along with it!

I know that before Thanksgiving
it will snow and the lagoon will freeze,
it always does but sometimes it will
thaw again before Halloween.

All this time I thought he was that person,
rat-catcher for the morality police,
the unassailable Paddy of virtue.
Sometimes it’s hard to know someone.

Last year just before Christmas
I ran across a coyote on the path.
He had tip-toed over the ice
and crawled under the fence.

Perhaps there is room to reconsider,
maybe even see a glimmer.
But I don’t like my memories
shaken— I lose bearing.

I enjoy the predictably of winter days
flattop prairies snow covered.
I could stare out at them forever,
the sameness –distant and comforting.


This original poem, with such diverse refrains, puts forth astute observations on character, stability and nature, inside a lilting musicality that is most entertaining. Details of seasons move from the basic (“not wanting (chairs) to get leaf full/and then of course there are the geese”) through the dramatic (“a coyote…tip-toed over the ice/and crawled under the fence”). Meanwhile the recalled father wobbles in memory from a “tight-arsed/paragon” through “the unassailable Paddy of virtue.” A constancy in nature reassures, even while the wavering of human memory unnerves. --Lee Slonimsky

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