Burning Fall

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There was a time in the fall of the year when leaves were raked into a ditch and burned. The rising smoke snaked its way through the neighborhood burning eyes for some and tickling nostrils. For me, the sweet smell of burning leaves is synonymous with Fall.

Folks living in the country burned their leaves year after year. Sometimes those leaf piles burned into the evening shadows. They would take a ghostly stance and watch with a rake in hand as the pile got smaller and smaller. In time everything turned to ash. No one gave a thought about polluting the air. The evening wind carried the smoke away blending it into the other scents of Fall. It mixed with the smell of oak wood burning in woodstoves throughout the neighborhood.

Smoke from burning leaves

Mingles with the cool night air

Sweet smell of Autumn


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, guest host Jo asked us to write a poem of scents. They are those smells around us that tickle our senses and trigger memories and emotions. I chose to write about memories of fall leaf burning.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

Night Train

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Reading Kym Gordon Moore’s post about the *Little Red Caboose got my nostalgia going for another train post. The painting above is one I did almost ten years ago. The photo of the painting came out a little blurry, which I thought made the painting have an almost ghostly quality. The night train roaring through the blackness is a sight to behold.

Night Train

Black smoke blends with the foggy night

Night train roars on through mist

Full moon hides from the fury of fire and smoke

Fireman shovels coal into the bottomless pit

as the fire dragon swallows and snorts

Whistle pierces the darkness at each crossing

Midnight hour draws near as the engine roars on

through coal patches,

past coke ovens

lighting up hillsides like Jack-o-lanterns

Windows rattle as the old man snores

Kids hide beneath their cozy blankets

Birds huddle close in the branches

Ground shakes as cars rumble by

River gleams just over the bank as it races

the Pennsylvania Dragon to Pittsburgh

Night Train heads into the darkness

pulling a hundred coke cars behind

Warning light twinkles like the evening star

a Red Dwarf

on the back of the little red caboose


Painting of the Night Train: Dwight L. Roth

*Read Kym’s poem here:


Dog Days of Summer

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Dog Days of Summer

Now we know why Punxsutawney Phil does not predict the end of summer. It is too hot for him to crawl up out of his hole. Mid summer was a beast this year, with temperatures above 90 F most days. Wildfires blazed all over the Northwest, sending smoke our way as weather fronts drug it across the country.

August has slipped in already with the promise of cooler days this week. When this month ends, Fall brings on Nature’s fashion show and  I am ready. Seems like each season ends just in time for us to look forward to the next one.

Tap-dancing on sand

August brings cooler promise

Farmers harvest corn

For our d’Verse prompt today, Frank Tassone asked us to write a Haibun reflecting on the month of August. When August comes we know summer is on its down hill slide into fall!

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com



Looking out from my hotel balcony, I missed seeing the beautiful blue Alberta sky. Instead, smoke from the forest fires in British Columbia have been carried many miles to fill the air hundreds of miles away in Edmonton. Blue sky only peeked through twice while we were there.

Smoky summer sky

Eclipsed all but UV rays

Haze blocks out the sun

Makes breathing hard for many

Only can dream of blue sky


Beautiful Pearl

Corona rings surround sun

Do not stare too long

Microwaved retinas stay fried

Never to see light again


Photo Dwight L. Roth




“The “Grass” is Always Greener…”

California recently passed a law legalizing marijuana. The pun about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence has been running through my head ever since. I thought I would write a humorous poem about this playing with  a variation of that phrase and the “Go West young man…” one as well. I hope it makes you smile.

“The “Grass “is always Greener…”

“Come West young man, Come West!”

And have no fear no matter what you hear

The grass in California is much greener here


How can that be so, after this sad year?


From LA to Modesto things are up in smoke

Wild fires burning, a ghastly fright’ning cloak

Hillside residents flee before they choke


Firefighters struggling to gain control

The earth is scorched, natures melanoma rolls.

Houses are burning, some fall off the cliffs

Metal ghost monuments sit rigid and stiff


Rich and poor all share the same lot

Looks like California became a black pot

A cauldron of disaster… an oddly mixed stew

Is California the place for me and you?


Have no fear// it will all come back

As long as we don’t fall into the crack

Things may seem bleak and cloudy this year

But have no worries the grass is greener here


And though the hills go up in smoke

We will stay mellow and have a toke

For the grass is much greener here!


Clip Art: bestclipart.com

Sour Beer and Apple Pie

Smells, like songs, take us back to a particular place and time. Amazing how important smell is to our quality of life. I can’t imagine life without smell. The good, the bad, and the foul smells all are part of life. As I think back through my childhood there are many smells that trigger memories. One in particular is the smell of souring beer in empty bottles in my friend Little Henry’s basement. We would pass through from time to time and go past a partial case waiting to be returned for money or exchanged. I never forgot that sour smell and to this day I have no desire to even taste a beer!

Sour Beer and Apple Pie  (Childhood Details)

Smells like songs takes me back

Calling up forgotten files in my brain

Bringing up times gone by

Two little boys running through his basement

Case of fermenting bottles on the floor by the door

Carling Black Label his dad’s beer of choice

Waiting to be returned for an exchange fee

The smell of dirt under the back porch

Powdery dry never feeling rain

Freshly plowed ground turned over each spring

Disked fine and ready for garden planting

Wafting from the chicken house

Ammonia strong enough to clear a head cold

Even stronger when it came time to clean the floors

Fresh sheets with fabric softener windblown dry

On long clothes lines stretched like cobwebs

Across the back our yard

Fresh alfalfa hay lying lifeless in the field

A unique aroma when baled and stacked in the barn

Coal in the mine damp and dank

Waiting to be dug and hauled to the surface

Creating sharp and acrid smells when turned to ashes

Coke ovens belching out untamed gasses

Gray black clouds rising into the sky day and night

Creating acid rain and burning our eyes

Dropping soot on the roof as water runs into our cistern

The earthy smell of wet clay squishing between my fingers

Shaped into bowls or creatures unknown

Fresh out of the oven Mom’s homemade apple pie

Making me salivate like Pavlov’s dogs

Apples sweet and sour rotting on the ground under the tree

Drawing bees and wasps to savor the fermented juices

Yeasty smell cutting into a fresh loaf of bread

Still warm soft as a memory foam pillow

Spread with fresh yellow homemade butter

Purple lilacs blooming on the bush each spring

Better smell than any fifty-dollar perfume from Paris

Smells from the trash we burned in the back yard

Out next to the pit hole where cans and bottles died

Fresh green mint tea leaves pulled from the stalk

Brewed into iced tea sweet and refreshing

A one of a kind smell the outhouse at church and school

Stinky stalactites building rain and paper decorate them

Hot scalded chickens ready for picking in the back yard

Burnt singed hair burning off of bare chickens in the flame

Smells of the locker room after gym class at High School

Baskets of sweaty gym shorts tee shirts and a jock strap

That new car smell brought home for the first time

From Fike Cheverolet in Masontown

Smells are so important in our experience of living

Without them life would be not nearly as pleasant


Beer Ad Photo: Bing Clip Art

Pie Photos: ipkitten@blogspot.com