Sweet Autumn by Valerie Nieman

The scent of white clematis
drifts like dusting powder.

Persimmons fall in the street 
and rot. “Sweet sweet too sweet”
a sparrow might sing

but the birds are done with
their work and even the mockingbird
is only half-hearted.

The knees have gone out
of the year.

Valerie Nieman’s fourth novel, To the Bones, a horror/mystery set in the West Virginia coalfields, appeared in 2019 and has been acclaimed as “a parable of capitalism and environmental degradation.” She is also the author of Neena Gathering, a post-apocalyptic young adult novel set in Appalachia. Her third poetry collection, Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse, takes place amid the grit and glamor of a mid-century carnival. Her work has appeared widely and been included in numerous anthologies. A graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte, she teaches writing at North Carolina A&T State University. Her young adult novel/crossover thriller is forthcoming from Fitzroy Books/Regal House in 2022.

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