Dearest October – A Poetic Mess
Music Credit: Rose (Prod. by Lukrembo)
Hi Pen Pals, I’m Jyn Arro and you’re listening to A Poetic Mess, the podcast where we turn the beautiful and ugly messes of our lives into poetry.
Welcome to the fourth episode, a very exciting one because my poetry collection came out this week!
Book of Mirrors is officially available on Amazon, currently in ebook or paperback – eventually, I’ll offer an audiobook version but because the poems are paired with watercolor backgrounds and illustrations I want the visual versions to have their moment.
And, not to be Captain Obvious, but we are in October! My favorite month and time of the year! Yes, Halloween is my favorite holiday and I wish its festivities spanned two months instead of one.
That is why I had my book come out October 13th. Book of Mirrors, my first published collection of poetry, is now another reason why this month is so special to me.
I have been doing my personal annual tradition of having a month-long movie marathon of my favorite witchy, cheesy, and festive Halloween movies. I am NOT a fan of horror and the creepy, paranormal stuff is very much not my jam. My favorites go from the Halloweentown movies I grew up with to the incredible indie-film The Love Witch by Anna Biller. That’s the spectrum of genres I enjoy.
Alright, the prompt today is an ode to October, a love poem if you will, and I am going to first recite, not a poem of my own, but one by Robert Frost aptly named October:
O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all. The crows above the forest call; Tomorrow they may form and go. O hushed October morning mild, Begin the hours of this day slow. Make the day seem to us less brief. Hearts not averse to being beguiled, Beguile us in the way you know. Release one leaf at break of day; At noon release another leaf; One from our trees, one far away. Retard the sun with gentle mist; Enchant the land with amethyst. Slow, slow! For grapes’ sake, if they were all, Whose leaves already are burnt with frost, Whose clustered fruit must else be lost– For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
Very much an October themed poem that still centers the end of the harvest season and the changes in the environment and the weather. And you can include these in your own poetry by leaning into the beauty and uniqueness of your own local environment no matter where you are. Like me, I live in a desert city and if you want some more advice about how to include the qualities of where you live when they don’t perfectly match the stereotypes of the season then listen to my last episode, Autumn On Paper, if you haven’t already.
Back to Frost’s poem, there’s a lot of simple words that he uses to great effect to convey the feeling of a peaceful October. Such as describing the month as hushed and repeating it twice throughout the poem. Mornings are detailed as mild, days as slow, mist as gentle – again there’s no need to pull out a thesaurus and over-complicate what is best said in simple terms.
And this poem is just an inspirational example to jump off of, don’t worry about trying to write like Frost or any other poet for that matter. And maybe October has little to do with the weather for you and everything to do with the food, the treats, candy, and pumping spice lattes – if you’re one of those people. I’ve never been able to get into the hype, I’m more of a caramel-flavored and drizzled everything kind of person. I do love pumpkin pie, though… I think I’m a bit sus of people who don’t like pie.
Like I mentioned, I’m a desert city dweller. We look forward to the weather eventually cooling off, we absolutely lose our minds when we see 80 degree temperatures (let alone 70), but that’s about it as far as the weather’s concerned. So, my October poem will take a different approach…
O my dearest October day, Thank you for visiting me again. These months felt a century long, Yet scarcely like a whole year has gone. With the promise of hot coffee, And less time being bullied by sun; Of soft blankets and comfy throws, And pumpkin carving till a trick glows; Of bright orange frosted cookies, And sugary treats grabbed by the bunch. I greet you my most treasured friend, Could this sweet visit be slow to end? Might you please take your spooky time, Just as the moon does these witching nights? Give the ghosts and ghouls plenty play, O my dearest October day!
That felt like a love poem if I ever heard one! It’s both personal and will be relatable to some, especially those of you who feel as attached to October and Halloween as much as I do. And it’s funny, too, that this time of year became so important to me since I wasn’t allowed to trick or treat as a kid. My Mexican-Catholic background made it so that my relatives had a slightly contentious relationship with the festive activities and themes of the season. Even something like the Disney movie Twitches was looked at with suspicion and I was told I shouldn’t watch it – so, I watched it in secret, obviously.
But, through my stubbornness and willful curiosity, I’ve changed some minds or at the very least they put up with my excitement for all things Halloween-related, now! Live and let live, you know?
Nowadays, we all have a giggle when I pull out my cauldron mug and I cackle like a dork when the steam rises up out of it from my hot coffee. It’s the little things in life that bring you the greatest joy, and since I totally just sounded like a grandma saying that I would like to clarify that I am only in my twenties. I’ve just happened to become the sentimental type early on, I guess.
So, I hope you have fun playing around with the wording and adding your own traditions, associations, and favorites to your poem. Maybe you’re a big candy corn eater, I don’t understand how you can eat that stuff but I’m sure some of my listeners love it considering that it is still one of the highest selling candies during spooky season. I found out recently that even for those that hate the taste, candy corn is still considered a Halloween staple across the board. Could never be me! I’ll stick with my orange or purple frosted Lofthouse sugar cookies.
The next poem I’ll be reciting was written by George Cooper, an American poet who was born in 1840. This work is titled October’s Party and, fun fact, it was actually given as a memorization assignment to third grade students in the 1950s:
October gave a party; The leaves by hundreds came— The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples, And leaves of every name. The Sunshine spread a carpet, And everything was grand, Miss Weather led the dancing, Professor Wind the band. The Chestnuts came in yellow, The Oaks in crimson dressed; The lovely Misses Maple In scarlet looked their best; All balanced to their partners, And gaily fluttered by; The sight was like a rainbow New fallen from the sky. Then, in the rustic hollow, At hide-and-seek they played, The party closed at sundown, And everybody stayed. Professor Wind played louder; They flew along the ground; And then the party ended In jolly "hands around."
You can hear why this poem would be presented to children. It’s playful in its use of language and is really a piece that reads a bit like a fictional story with the addition of characters like Miss Weather, Professor Wind, and Misses Maple.
It also makes me want to throw an autumn gathering of my own to get into the spirit of October. Actually, at least one of the rooms in my house is already set with a really pretty velvet maple leaf tablecloth, these cute little multicolored pumpkins, and a rustic, warm hued floral centerpiece. We just need to put out some candy bowls, a funky spooky punch, put a mix of autumnal and Halloween music on, and dress up in costumes to make it a perfect October party.
There are many more examples of October-related poetry out there, but, and this is a big ‘but’ for me: it all gets so redundant so, very quickly. The amount of times I came across lines and stanzas of experiencing leaves turning yellow and red, or maple trees and maple leaves, or the wind – the wind gets mentioned a lot, I noticed in this week’s research. We all know there are common associations with this time of year but the pervasiveness of only one perspective in literature and something that should be as creative as poetry, was a lot to have to read on repeat, over and over again, while trying to find inspiration for this topic.
Which is why I try to remind you, my listeners, to pull from our personal experience no matter how unlike the picturesque stereotypes it might be. Because, if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that diversification in the arts is important for representation, of course, but also to prevent it from becoming mind-numbingly uniform. If the next time I read a line of poetry about changing or falling leaves is next year, that will still be a year too soon!
O my dearest October day, Remember when I never looked your way? When you were just a month that came and went Save for the costumes seen on Hallow's Eve? To some I knew you were as a lover, To me, a stranger like any other. When you tried to offer both tricks and treats, I had but a taste, not ever a bite. How could I, of what was hauntedly dark; Steeped in dread horrors too grim to remark? Curious, your smile doesn't look frightful, now; A familiar face with wisdom to share. Time to celebrate life and honor dead, Ensure many stories and warmth are spread. With both scare and care, you keep cold at bay, O my dearest October day!
Thank you for listening [or reading] and I cannot wait to continue to write with you, my fellow poetry lovers and pen wielders. Please share your poems with me on Twitter or Instagram using hashtag #apoeticmess. My first poetry book, Book of Mirrors, is out now on Amazon. And you can stay in touch, read my poetry and other works @ JynArro across all social media platforms and jynarro.com.
You can support the podcast and my work at paypal.me/ByJynArro.
Till next time, this has been A Poetic Mess.