Skip to Content

Autumn, New York, 1999

By Patricia Spears Jones

And I am full of worry I wrote to a friend
Worry, she replied about what—love, money, health?

All of them, I wrote back. It’s autumn, the air is clear
and you hear death music—the rattle of leaves swirling

the midnight cat howling, a newborn baby’s 3 am
call for food or help or heart’s love

At the market, the green, red and yellow apples are piled high,
sweet perfume—once, I went apple picking in Massachusetts

a day of thralling beauty, my companions and I
had no desire to leave the valley—the plump trees,

the fierce pride of small town New England where a gift shop
exploded gingham, calico, silly stuffed toys

we stood within this shrine to cloying femininity of entwined hearts
and ribbons and bows like invading aliens, fascinated and appalled

and here too, people throng around the dahlias—
the last of the bright fat flowers. Open. Scentless.

It is going to be a very hard winter and we all know it in our bones
an almost atavistic memory with instruction—wear heavy clothes
horde food, drink water, stand against the wind


Added: Monday, June 30, 2014  /  From "Painkiller" (Tia Chucha Press 2010). Used with permission.
Patricia Spears Jones
Photo by: Thomas Sayers Ellis

Patricia Spears Jones is an African American poet and playwright. She is author of three poetry collections Painkiller (2010), Femme du Monde  (2006) and The Weather That Kills (1994) and editor of Think: Poems About Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Hat/ (2009) and Ordinary Women: Poetry by New York City Women (1978). Anthologized in Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry Bowery Women Poets broken land: Poems of Brooklyn, and Best American Poetry, 2000.  Mabou Mines commissioned ‘Mother’, music composed by Carter Burwell and Song for New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting, music composed by Lisa Gukin. Contributing editor to BOMB Magazine. Recipient of grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and the Goethe Institute.  Fellowships at Black Earth Institute, Yaddo,VCCA. Bread Loaf, and the Millay Colony.  Instructor and reader for Poets House; St. Mark’s Poetry Project; California College of Art; Woodland Pattern, Barnard College; Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University; Pine Manor College and University of Rhode Island.

Other poems by this author