Thursday, November 10, 2016

Poetry Friday: Raking the Election Leaves with Aeschylus

"So he won. The nation takes a deep breath….We are so exhausted from thinking about this election, millions of people will take up leaf-raking and garage cleaning with intense pleasure.”

Raking the Leaves

Tuesday I left the leaves for later, now
it’s Wednesday and later’s here. It’s here
like none of the pundits predicted, unless 
you mean Aeschylus, famous for his tragedies,
who told us we would know the future
when it came – until then, we should forget it.

Today the future came, banged on the door.
I didn’t answer, but it came in anyway, so
I went outside to rake leaves from the apple tree, 
remembering an oracle predicted a falling object 
would kill Aeschylus. For some reason he felt safe 
outside, but he died when an eagle flew over him 
and dropped a turtle on his head. Dropping dead 
like that, imagine. Imagine dropping dead at all.

My imagination goes all wonky when the world 
buckles and shakes. I calm myself with a rake 
and make a pile of leaves. Did I say a pile 
of something? I forget what exactly. And what 
was I saying? It's gotten hard to think. Oh, yes, 
a pile of leaves, once green, now orange and dead.   
Next up? Nothing to be done but clean the shed. 

Aeschylus  525-456 B.C.

Jama Kim Rattigan is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today at her blog, the wonderful and delicious Alphabet Soup . Head over there to see what people have posted.


  1. Thanks so much for your poem, Julie. I feel the same -- unable to concentrate, trying hard to focus and hold steady. Raking leaves, a way to exert control over a small space when all else is chaos. This is sorrow beyond sorrow.

  2. Hugs Julie. It's a tough time, but hopefully raking, cleaning, organizing can bring some sense of calm and order. Great poem!

  3. Dear Julie, I love the humor that crept into your poem... Hard work helps. Humor helps. Nature helps. Poetry helps. Thank you for sharing this poem. xo

  4. Your brain has clearly been hanging out with mine, Julie. No leaves to rake, but I do have an overwhelming urge to stack dishes.

  5. I would love to hear you recite this, Julie. The rest of the day I will be saying to myself, "Nothing to be done but clean the shed." My garden clean-up has not suffered this week, and it does help to get out there and sweep and rake, and give my thanks to the trees!

  6. YES - on so many levels. It's time to step back, center ourselves, then go out int to the world and do what we can to let the light in (still mourning Leonard Cohen today).

  7. That final stanza speaks to my state of is hard to think. But you thought your way through a poem--thank you for sharing it!

  8. Aunt Julie, I love your poem! No leaves to rake here in PHX ��

    1. Well, maybe just a metaphorical rake, yes? Or even better, a broom out on the patio? 🙂

  9. Yes, your poems captures the mood of so many of us, Julie! Regarding our future that is now our reality "I didn’t answer, but it came in anyway" - so true unfortunately. =)

  10. So good. It's really hard to predict that falling turtle! But meanwhile, there are leaves to be raked.

  11. I have to remember to keep an eye out for turtle-carrying eagles while I rake leaves.

  12. LOVE this. I just read the Garrison Keillor piece, so it made me laugh to see your response.

    Here's a link in reference to your comment on my post:


  13. Julie....all I can say is that you NAILED IT! Fantastic play upon Garrison Keillor and love the Aeschylus reference too. Well done. I am cleaning closets and ruminating quite a bit. Good to know 1. I'm not alone and 2. All our tidying up is not for naught. Have a good week.

  14. Your poem illustrates the shocked frame of mind so well, especially the last confused part. (At least you'll have some tidied spaces out of this--cold comfort I know.)

  15. This is perfect, Julie. Channeling our frustrations into work makes us feel less helpless, or hopeless, or both. Thank you for sharing!

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  17. Greetings, Ms. Larios. This comment is in regard to your essay "Undersung" on the Numero Cinq website, which wouldn't let me post it there. I thought you might appreciate a feedback from a grateful reader. I am an apprentice in the craft of poetry, and, as such, in search of inspiration for my writing and for my understanding of what poetry can be. I have come across a couple of Brinnin's poems in old compilations, and was much impressed by their balance of musicality and meaningfulness. Your excellent article has given me good food for thought--an inspiration in its own right, and helped me decide to find a full collection of his work. Thank you.

    1. Kris, thank you so much! I really enjoyed writing that article for NC. Glad you enjoyed it. And good luck with your studies - the writing and reading of poetry can be so satisfying.