Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter and All

Across the river from the asylum
under the gush of grey
sodden sky flirting with the
sun – a fickle breath tumbles
autumnal leaves through the last gasp
of meadows, golden-rusted

larkspur and rusted ragweed
the glimmering of winter berries

dead in appearance, lively
chilling winter approaches –
They leave the old world clothed,
warm, unsure of all
save that they leave. All about them
the cooling, southern wind –

Yesterday the grass, now
the lace of frost traces maple veins
As one nature reduces –
It lessens: obscurity, shadows of leaf

Tomorrow the stark solemnity of
leave-taking – the end
creeps upon them: surprised, they
burrow into the whitening earth.


A note of explanation. While reading William Carlos Williams' poem SPRING and ALL, I immediately imaged an old psychiatric hosptal in Massachusetts. The picture is a postcard of the Worcester State Hospital, now empty but beautiful in its derelict. I've walked the grounds often; the main building sits on the hill above UMass Worcester Medical Center, where I still maintain an adjunct position, and the place where I was born... so following the mood and style of Williams, I created a poem hoping to elucidate feelings of winter's melancholy...

PLEASE DIP DOWN TO THE POST BELOW and leave a comment -- wampum for your words, all to benefit Doctors Without Borders, to benefit the Haitian relief effort.

Peace, Linda


  1. Very nice!

    dannan o'brien

  2. It looks like a castle. That must be some place to wander. If you happen to take some closer-up pictures, I would be interested in seeing them. Hope you're doing well.

  3. Poignant. You really captured the starkness of coming winter, the isolation of it.

    There is something very beautiful about abandoned buildings, isn't there?

  4. This piece left me sad, but hopeful as I guess it should. A few more words than I'm used to seeing in your tight(in a good way)poetry. I like it, but feel if you dig deeper, it can be even more powerful. Still, looking for a book of poetry from you. :)
    Docs without Borders-wonderful gesture. Thanks.

  5. Thank you for reading. John, much of the campus is razed, like so many of our old asylums. No pics from me, but it is a haunting place.

    Yes, Laurita, I love abandoned buildings, especially barns and, well, hospitals.

    Deborah, wordier than I like, but I was playing off of a poem by William Carlos Williams, using that as a prompt of sort. I've added a link...

    Just another experiment, not so successful perhaps... Peace, Linda

  6. So happy to see a poem here for #fridayflash. I've been wanting to start writing poetry again, but haven't had the time when I'm doing short stories and vispo, too!

    The poem is poignant. It's amazing to me how the poem leads towards a realization of a type of death not necessarily followed by life--appropriate in my opinion with the subject matter here. The parallel of the gray SODDEN sky (flirting with the sun) with the end "burrowing into the whitening earth" is awesome.

    Loved these lines: "As one nature reduces –/
    It lessens: obscurity, shadows of leaf." This poem stands nicely by itself, but I could also see it as the start of something larger...Maybe?? :)

  7. Beautiful writing, Linda. Crisp frosty walks are my favourite. This one sounds especially lovely.

  8. I did go over to read the poem that inspired you and think that yours successfully emulated mood and style.

    Yes, winter's melancholy is depicted quite well here in your lovely lines.

    In Williams' poem the coming Spring shows objects defined, a leaf made clear.

    In your Winter, objects are lessened, a shadow of a leaf.


  9. The postcard is gorgeous and your words fit the mood so well. I think you've done what you set out to do. Thank you for sharing. ~ Olivia

  10. Very nice, Linda - peaceful, calm, well done!

  11. I was just today trying to think of the perfect words for this winter sky and you nailed it with "gush of grey sodden sky". I, too, am fascinated by old run down places and have recently become obsessed with the run down hotels in Cape Cod. No idea why. But, some things just speak to our soul. I believe in this case, you've spoken for winter's soul! Lovely.

  12. Nice Linda. I think your profession has made you a bit over mental. haha and hoho

    Again that was a nice poem

  13. I'm not the least bit surprised at the beautiful justice you've done here Linda. Lovely, lovely prose.
    This reminds me of an old abandoned mental institution we passed on the way back from vacation on the Gulf, (it was in Florida, but for the life of me I can't remember the name now - it's on an index card somewhere). :) It was a beautiful building, but obviously haunted. Even the hair on my hubby's arms stood up, and he's a big skeptic.
    Thanks so much for sharing this, and I'm so glad you found a way to help the relief efforts in Haiti.

  14. Lovely poem. I challenged myself to write a poem, and this one inspires me to give it my best.

    -David G Shrock

  15. Gorgeous :) I envy your poetry skill. Did you really write that over lunch? It's really, really beautiful.

  16. That's cool Linda (yeah, I know, bad pun). I like the last stanza best.

  17. There is nothing more haunting than on old mental hospital, especially an abandoned one. You did that justice with your poem.

  18. I love the poetics of ruin and decay. Wonderful stuff

    marc nash

  19. Good poem. Wintry. Evokes melancholy feelings common in Winter too.

  20. Beautiful, but also more than a bit creepy. I wonder what walks the halls at night?

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Thank you all for reading! David, look forward to your poem -- most of all, have fun with it! Peace, Linda

  23. I loved it - just beautiful

  24. Linda I liked the last stanza the best too. Open to many interpretations, but all of them suiting the mood of this piece. Just a word on the picture - its placement made it a little hard for me to read the poem - I wasn't sure whether the line breaks were deliberate or forced by the image. Maybe you could centre it above the text next time - and I hope there is a next time too :)

  25. 'Sodden sky'... I grok this one. Up here in the Pacific North West, aka Pacific North Wet, we have grayness and precipitation in altogether too many forms. A very evocative turn of phrase, and well played to boot.

  26. grey sodden sky flirting with the sun - ah, like the weather in Britain (the sun usually snubs the poor sky)

    I liked the fickle breath that tumbles the leaves

  27. Thank you all for reading... yes, the sodden gray sky perfect for the UK and Seattle... Peace, Linda

  28. "the lace of frost traces maple veins" Ooh crisp, poignant and heady, like very good, very smooth wine.