We’re enjoying a lovely string of early fall days here in Minnesota. The children are off to school. I always feel like writing in the fall.

Fall in Minnesota

Fall in Minnesota

Here’s a poem by Mary Jo Salter from her collection,  A Phone Call to the Future.

Absolute September

How hard it is to take September
straight—not as a harbinger
of something harder.

Merely like suds in the air, cool scent
scrubbed clean of meaning—or innocent
of the cold thing coldly meant.

How hard the heart tugs at the end
of summer, and longs to haul it in
when it flies out of hand

at the prompting of the first mild breeze.
It leaves us by degrees
only, but for one who sees

summer as an absolute,
Pure State of Light and Heat, the height
to which one cannot raise a doubt,

as soon as one leaf’s off the tree
no day following can fall free
of the drift of melancholy.


In the “now I feel better about my personal chaos” category:

From an interview with Mary Jo Salter in New Letters:

Mary Jo Salter

Mary Jo Salter


NL: Another student wanted me to ask if, as a formal writer, you are organized and structured in your own life as well?

SALTER: Not in the least. I can tell you that I wake up at 4:00 in the morning and remember something I was supposed to do at 4:00 in the afternoon the day before. I am terribly disorganized. What I say in my poem “Office Hours” about having files on the floor that haven’t gone into the filing cabinet is really alarming, because I wrote that poem at least five years ago, and those same papers are still on the floor. No. I think I put whatever orderliness I’ve got into my poems, and the rest is chaos.


A big thank you to all of you who sent me mail and commented about life-changing books. I’m keeping a list that I’ll post in the future. I always enjoy hearing from you. So send me what you write or more on life-changing books.


Writing Jumpstart: September. Go for ten minutes. Whatever comes to you. Just write.


2 thoughts on “September

  1. Perfect poem for September – speaks to the contradictory feelings that are a part of life. After singing in both synagogues and churches for over 30 years, I thought that the Jewish designation New Year, which begins in autumn, was preferable to January 1.

    • You’re so right. I always feel in the fall as if it is time to start fresh, buy some new pencils and a notebook, and begin the year.
      Our New Year in January seems to be more about resolutions that are too hard to keep. So there is a sense of failure before we even get going.

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