As I look out upon October leaves
And brown grass weathered by the autumn sun,
I see the shafts of light a bare branch cleaves
And so much of creation now undone.

I feel the sorrow of a world defeated
And wonder if my life reflects the same
Cycle of life’s consciousness depleted;
Like a picture that has fallen from its frame

I bare my heart to painful introspection
Regarding simple pleasures never found.
Like finding images of one’s reflection
In a fleeting pool of water ever bound.

Where now are all the promises of spring
That light and warmth and flowers would repair?
What now do winter wind and shadows bring
But dour images and dark despair?

And yet as I recall from years gone by,
That following the darkness and the cold,
If I can my own darker moods defy
Will then the flowers of spring at last unfold.

And so it goes and so my life repeats
The cycles of the seasons in my mind.
And so my memory at last deletes
The darker side of life I often find.


Poet’s Note: This is a poem about seasonal affective disorder and the depression and despair that many experience going into winter.



Richard Lackman is an orthopaedic cancer surgeon and poet.

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8 Responses

  1. Dave Etchell

    the last line of Shelly’s Ode to the West Wind springs to mind. I used to suffer terribly from SAD a few years ago I found out that high vitamin A and D dosage during Dec /Jan cured it.

  2. Cheryl Corey

    How timely. Just this morning, before I got out of bed, I wondered what it would be like to hibernate for a few months.

  3. Paul Erlandson

    Thank you Mr. Lackman …

    I REALLY identify with this poem! I feel it so deeply. Before I got sober, this was exactly the time of year I began to drink more heavily.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    In the fifth quatrain, the word “dower” is incorrect. It should be “dour” (same pronunciation). “Dower” is a legal term meaning the survival benefits of a widow.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Mr. Lackman, your delicate and beautifully woven poem reminds me of those dark, chill winter months in the UK (my homeland). “I see the shafts of light a bare branch cleaves/And so much of creation now undone.” is a perfect poetic depiction of those barren, dormant months.

    Your wonderful closing stanza reminds me of Wordsworth in “vacant and pensive mood” recalling those dancing daffodils in “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”. A magnificent poem!

  6. Cynthia Erlandson

    I agree that this is a beautiful and poignant poem! I love October, and am mostly able to focus on the bright beautiful leaves; but beneath the surface I know it is such a poignant time of year partly because the very beauty is telling us that this is the last gasp of loveliness before the winter starts “defeating” us. My favorite lines are the two that Susan quoted above.


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