Finding Firewood in the Fiery Woods of Fall


Fred First of Fragments from Floyd recently challenged his readers to write a description of the smells that evoke autumn for them.  Fred himself penned a lovely piece and commenters also wrote vivid and poetic expressions of fall.  Colleen of Loose Leaf Notes later posted a wonderful fall poem that she wrote, inspired by Fred’s challenge.

At first I stalled, daunted by the task, but then decided to follow through on my recent pledge to not compare myself to everyone else but to go ahead and stick my creative neck out, even when I’m scared.  In the blog world, the writers I admire most are the ones who post their poetry, because I think there is no writing more personal.  In fact, for me, the only thing more intimidating than posting a poem would be to post a picture of myself!

But anyway, in the spirit of being bolder, here’s the poem I wrote (slightly edited).  I later realized that I’d gone off on a poetic tangent since my poem didn’t specifically address the sense of smell.  I apologize, Fred.  This is just what came out when I thought about how our woods smell in autumn.  It’s about my favorite fall chore—gathering firewood for the winter.


The chainsaw sings a high keening dirge
For the deadwood it cuts sharp and clean.
Sharp and clean, the crisp autumn air
Burns my lungs as I carry,
Through the glory of
Blazing bright leaf fall,
The tree’s final gift to us
That will come alive again
In our woodstove as it
Burns bright in a blaze of glory
Saving us from the cutting of
The sharp winter wind.



9 Responses to “Finding Firewood in the Fiery Woods of Fall”

  1. June Says:

    Beth, I think that’s a beautiful poem. Really. I love the line “the tree’s final gift to us that will come alive again in our woodstove…”

    I know what you mean about having to fight the tendency to compare your writing to others’. I have to do that too. I so admire Colleen, et al for their ability to paint pictures with their words – as you just did. It’s such a joy to read or hear. It can be a bit intimidating at Spoken Word to follow these artists. I have to always remind myself that what I write might not be full of imagery it is full of me!

    Also wondering how you’re feeling. Hopefully, on the mend.

  2. Susan Says:

    I can relate – I finally stuck my neck out and posted some ‘poems’ but still don’t like my picture on there.

    Your poem is great! You should write more. I remember reading on Fred’s blog once that they use wood for both heating and cooling, in winter it heats the house in the woodstove and in the summer the shade cools the house.

    Keep writing! We will be your cheerleaders.

  3. benjamin (aka guitarmaniac) Says:

    The thing about your poem that strikes me most is the description of the familiar sound–“the high keening dirge”–and the tree’s second purpose even though it was dead and rotting in the forest! You have a gift with words, you do!

    The odors of the forest revitalize the naturalistic hiker part of me every time I start down any woodland trail…

  4. lucky pennies Says:

    Oh, this is lovely! And I love the circular nature and parallel structure of it…how you start it with the image of the chainsaw cutting “sharp and clean” and end with the image of the cutting winter wind. ¡Su poema es muy excellente!

    Ariel gives this poem two thumbs up!

  5. Sara Says:

    Great job! Poetry is meant to be shared. It takes a bit of courage but it’s a great thing to stick your neck out and let others see a little deeper into your soul. There are those rare moments that it seems that only poetry really seems to fit the bill. I put mine on a separate blog called first, eat dessert and buried it so that only the most curious will ever find it. Not much there yet but at least it has a place and it can hide out quietly.
    Like June, I’m wonderering if you’re feeling better?

  6. wesleyjeanne Says:

    Beth–this is simply lovely. I like the recurring dual images of sharpness/cutting (as Ariel said) and burning (“burns my lungs”; “blazing bright leaf fall”; and the burning in the woodstove). Very nice. Please post more poetry.
    Your poem and photos also make me long for a wood stove or fireplace. I can smell it as I read, feel its warmth surrounding me. Every evening as the wind blows around my door, I wonder to myself “Who builds a log cabin in the mountains without a wood stove or fireplace?” And I look around my house for the answer. Oh.
    Someday, someday we’ll get the basement finished and I’ll get my wood stove.

  7. bluemountainmama Says:

    i also loved the line that june mentioned. wonderful poem! you should write them more often…. 🙂

  8. Shannon Says:

    Oh Beth, that’s beautiful! The “high keening dirge” is a FANTASTIC line. I haven’t posted my poetry……I might have to just to prove I can do it. Um……I don’t know if I’ve as brave as you. Shannon

  9. colleen Says:

    Even though you don’t directly talk about the smell, you paint a picture with words that makes me smell and feel the warmth of that fire. I can hear the chainsaw roar and the fire cackle. Wonderful!

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