Autumn day

A bright day, but a cold day,
Wind gusting thought and memory
Across the continent, and away
Across the world. My thoughts
Are not my thoughts but given,
Only, I may misspeak them.

Sibelius’s Lemminkäinen dies
In Tuonela, with snarling brass.
Warplanes passing low,
Scatter currawongs and magpies
From the front-yard, squabbles
Forgotten in panic flight.

A hundred and sixty years since
These valleys were taken – thoughts
Of war on the wind, wars before
And since. Perhaps we have only been
Practising. The grass shivers:
‘Soon the real wars begin.’

John Leonard

John Leonard is a Canberra-based poet and author most recently of Braided Lands. His website is

More by John Leonard ›

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays