Original Poem: "Autumn in Our Backyard" with Commentary

Updated on February 22, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, and taking a creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my growing interest.

Autumn in Our Backyard

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Introduction and Text of Poem, "Autumn in Our Backyard"

My original poem, "Autumn in Our Backyard," takes the form of an American sonnet. The American sonnet is a fascinating form. It is also called "Innovative Sonnet." The term innovative describes perfectly the fact that the American sonnet is based very loosely on the traditional sonnets. While the traditional sonnets—Petrarchan and Elizabethan—display in a tight, strict structure, the American sonnet expresses more freedom of movement.

The American sonnet often lacks a rime-scheme or a patten of rhythm. (Please note: The spelling, "rhyme," was introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson through an etymological error. For my explanation for using only the original form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.") Only the number of 14 lines remains a constant that adheres to the traditional sonnet scheme.

The subject matter of the American sonnet remains similar to that of the traditional sonnets in that it almost always focuses on topics that are heartfelt human issues—love, suffering, death, truth, beauty, and the mysteries of living the life of a human being.

Autumn in Our Backyard

for Ronald

Winter coming on catches me at the sliding door
summing up blessings, fixed between you and the glass.

The vegetable garden is losing its summer blush
& the flower bed is turning back its quilt.

Shadows of the evergreens lengthen into afternoon.
The sycamore submits to the grass its finished poems.

And the grass fingers each leaf until snow covers them.
The grass is steadier than tomatoes, reminding you

of summer as long as it holds the word.
The grass underwrites all that happens here,

hives worms, carpets feet, spreads a tablecloth for birds,
patterns a flag for the poet.

Winter coming on catches me reading the remnants of summer
watching the shuffle of autumn in our backyard.

Commentary

Dedicated to my husband, my poem, "Autumn in Our Backyard," is slated to appear my forthcoming collection, "As Tulips Dance and Sway."

First Couplet: A Place for Musing

Winter coming on catches me at the sliding door
summing up blessings, fixed between you and the glass.

The first couplet recalls the speaker standing at their patio door, looking out into the backyard, her husband standing behind her, arms wrapped around her, as they both admire the beauty of their backyard.

Second Couplet: Raising a Garden Together

The vegetable garden is losing its summer blush
& the flower bed is turning back its quilt.

The speaker notions that the sustaining vegetable garden has headed into fall, harvest over, recalling the activities that were shared by the couple.

Third Couplet: Shadows of Trees

Shadows of the evergreens lengthen into afternoon.
The sycamore submits to the grass its finished poems.

The speaker submits an image of how the shadows of trees grow longer as the sun moves across the day, then in observationally metaphoric mode, likens the leaves falling from the trees to poets sending out their wares to publishers, in the often vain attempt to get published.

The leaves will have no such problem as it submits its leaflets. The grass behaves in its natural way, allowing the leaves to join its manifold expression.

Fourth Couplet: The Chemical Acceptance

And the grass fingers each leaf until snow covers them.
The grass is steadier than tomatoes, reminding you

The grass accepts each poem/leaf and fondles it until the winter snow blankets both the grass and the leaf, publishing those poems into the chemical acceptance to which they utterly belong.

The speaker notes that the grass is pretty much always there—not like tomatoes that appear, you pick them, and they are gone until next year. The speaker then teases with “reminding you"— of what?

Fifth Couplet: The Duty of Grass

of summer as long as it holds the word.
The grass underwrites all that happens here,

That the grass reminds you that it is summer as long as it remains green. But unlike tomatoes, it will still be there looking kind of brown but there.

The importance of the grass has now taken over the narrative; somewhat Whitmanesquely, the grass becomes a ubiquitous entity with a catalogue of duties: it "hives worms, carpets feet, spreads a tablecloth for birds, / patterns a flag for the poet."

Sixth Couplet: A Ubiquitous Entity

hives worms, carpets feet, spreads a tablecloth for birds,
patterns a flag for the poet.

The grass becomes a ubiquitous entity with a catalogue of duties: it "hives worms, carpets feet, spreads a tablecloth for birds, / patterns a flag for the poet.” No one can deny the importance of grass.

Homeowners demand a fine bunch of grass surrounding their house. Lawn care has even become a big business venture.

Seventh Couplet: The Tranquil Notion

Winter coming on catches me reading the remnants of summer
watching the shuffle of autumn in our backyard.

The speaker returns to the tranquil notion that she is watching her backyard turn to autumn: summer is raucous with activity; now things are shutting down, life shuts down, and the beauty of shutting down needs to be explored.

If a backyard can dramatize the “shuffle of autumn,” what might the shuffle into the old-age of a human being portray?

Autumn in the Village

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Life Sketch of Linda Sue Grimes

The Windmill Chapel

In the temple of silence
By the lake, we sit
In stillness, meditating
In divine Bliss.

Returning to our daily minds,
We walk out into the sunshine,
And the flowers greet us.

The Literary Life

Born Linda Sue Richardson on January 7, 1946, to Bert and Helen Richardson in Richmond, Indiana, Linda Sue grew up about eight miles south of Richmond in a rustic setting near the Ohio border.

After graduating from Centerville Senior High School in Centerville, Indiana, in 1964, she completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967. She married Ronald Grimes on March 10, 1973.

As a writer, Grimes focuses on poetry, short fiction, politics, spirituality, and vegan/vegetarian cooking, which results in her original veggie recipes.

Literary Studies

Although music was her first love, Grimes considers herself primarily a literary specialist as she creates her own poetry, studies the poetry and literary arts of classic writers, and writes commentaries about classic poems.

However, Grimes does continue to express her love of music by writing her own original songs, which she records, accompanying herself on guitar or keyboard. She shares her musical compositions at SOUNDCLOUD.

After completing the PhD degree in British, American, and World Literature with a cognate in Rhetoric/Composition at Ball State University in 1987, Grimes taught English composition in the English Department at BSU as a contractual assistant professor from 1987 until 1999.

Publishing History

Grimes has published poems in many literary journals, including Sonoma Mandala, Rattle, and The Bellingham Review. She has published three books of poems: Singing in the Silence, Command Performance, and Turtle Woman & Other Poems, and a book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories.

Grimes published her first cookbook in the spring of 2013, titled The Rustic Veggie-Table: 100 Vegan Recipes. She is working on a second cookbook and her fourth book of poems.

At Owlcation, Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple) currently posts her poetry commentaries and her essays focusing on spirituality and politics. On LetterPile, she shares her creative writing of poems and short fiction, along with prose commentaries on each piece. She also posts recipes resulting from her experimental cooking of vegan/vegetarian dishes.

Spirituality

Linda Sue Grimes has been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and a member of his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, since 1978. A Kriyaban since 1979, she has completed the four Kriya Initiations, and she continues to study the teachings and practice the yoga techniques as taught by the great spiritual leader, who is considered to be the "Father of Yoga in the West."

Grimes practices the chants taught by the guru accompanying herself on the harmonium. She serves at her local SRF Meditation Group as one of the chant leaders.

Online Literary Presence

In addition to the contributions of her literary works to Owlcation, LetterPile, and SOUNDCLOUD, Grimes also curates her original creative literary pieces at her literary home, Maya Shedd Temple, on Medium, where she features her creative writing without commentaries.

Grimes also maintains an additional online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Linda Sue Grimes at SRF Lake Shrine's Windmill Chapel

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© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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