How to Buy an Authentic American Autumn

I wrote a snarky poem about autumn, because autumn is just around the corner, and I love being snarky.


How to Buy an Authentic American Autumn

I used to stand in line waiting
for pumpkin-induced espresso drinks
made from soy, sodium, soil, soylent green,
and other ingredients I can’t pronounce.

Then I’d wear a scarf made by small hands
somewhere in Thailand or Haiti,
hands thin and gnarled as roots,
the scarf I bought at a mall for its Generic Fall Sale.

Ready for autumn, I’d find a bench.

There, I would listen to a mechanized tree
whirr and beep above me
as it produced authentic autumn leaves ©
from shoots in its plastic branches,
letting them fall on an artificial wind stream,
each one a perfect shape, each one flat,
made by a cookie cutter in a factory
somewhere in the Midwest.

I used to drink and wear and feel
all that was required of me,
looking at pumpkins
with supermarket smiley faces
lining the curb every five feet
as leaves made from condensed paper
littered the street and bench and my lap.
The chill in the air, of course,
was from a pill that created the chemical sensation
of a perfect autumn breeze, crisp and cool and scented
very faintly with ginger and cinnamon,

the way all wind naturally smells,
according to the label on the bottle.

Only when an authentic autumn became too expensive
did I see the mess of curled, earthen leaves
that crunched beneath my feet. Only then did I see
the wind rush through a girl’s hair
and tangle it with the orange scarf her sister knit,
the horrors of homemade pumpkin pie
served fresh with strong black coffee,
and the abomination of smoke
lifted on the wind when the home fires glowed after sunset.


Poem by Keene Short 2014. Photo courtesy of Keene Short Photography. Thank you.

2 thoughts on “How to Buy an Authentic American Autumn

  1. Manuela W.

    Mmmm. Soy, sodium, soil, and soylent green. You forgot the ground up puppy bones and the tears of children. Awesome poem.


    1. jkeeneshort Post author

      Indeederoni. And let’s not forget the candy stolen from children, followed by said children, followed by said candy thief, in a frothy, sugary milkshake of sorrow.



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