Orange And Black

An October road, orange on black,
like obsidian beneath falling rain,
so slick and gleaming, forward and back
while wet shadows along the winding lane
wash up like alluvial shores,
the lamplights gentle on the front windows
of bricked-up glass, small-town stores
half-dreaming, half waking in rows.
Boughs detailed with orange flecks of light
or else darkly blank as fat thunderclouds
while they line the sidewalks to the right
like chandeliers partly covered with shrouds;
Hollow-eyed houses, empty of life,
with columned porches aglow with light—
each half-glimpsed raindrop a silver knife
that flashes as it slashes through the night.
See the church with its river-rock face,
dark and wet as if the river still runs
over the stones all set into place
long before the town known for its bourbons.
In the graveyard trees sway with the wind
while their weather-withered branches disrobe,
orange leaves tumbling, end over end,
glanced in the sullen light of a lamp’s globe.
The maple tree has an orange crown
and black branches like charred sorceress bones,
the leaves soot-sided embers come down
among the sprawling, stygian headstones.
Orange and black—all orange and black,
the colors of Halloween all around;
spire to cupola, eave to smokestack,
and splashing in the puddles on the ground.
From afar, now, the town is aglow
in the dark, silent sea spread all about;
a bright river boat drifting below
rain and shadow mingling along a route.
Orange and black—as if a pumpkin
left out at night and gone halfway to rot—
a Jack O’ Lantern with its plump skin
half-burned, its grin’s inner flame just too hot.
Neither asleep or awake: a dark dusk,
this town in October’s darkening eves,
flame and shadow consume the wet husk,
light losing the battle as Summer leaves.

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