Karl Garson's poetry reflects a strong sense of time and place, honed by years of travel, countless moves and a lifelong love of aviation and navigation. An awareness of the seasons pervades his work, whose themes include personal responsibility, aloneness, the natural order, music, geography and most of all, movement.

His poetry is forthcoming, or has appeared, in the Apalachee Review, Barnwood, Blue Unicorn, Cimarron Review, Connecticut River Review, Cream City Review, The Homestead Review, The Kansas Quarterly, Möbius, North American Review, The Ohio Journal, The Reaper, Red Rock Review, South Dakota Review, Switched-On Gutenberg and others. His books of poetry are Thoughts in Available Light (Song Press) and Driving Away from East and West (Juniper Press).

Select Poems by Karl Garson

Playing the Train

for Donald Byrd

Nights, noise out of time
drove him from the building
and into the subway where tracks
clicked like the good sidemen
he couldn't afford.

He'd work the valves quietly
and ride them to the end of the line.
Dozens of trips and he'd know
the flip side of silence
is recorded alone,

and being there has nothing
to do with where you are.

Karl Garson
Barnwood, 2008

What is Borne by Autumn Light

Sun breaks the day, after a mottled sky
held the Hunter's Moon imperfect
through its third night of wane.

The welcome light of autumn returns.
And warmth. In this eleventh day of October,
the temperature will reach the seventies.

I have been out to the garden and back.
Red leaves of the serviceberry freckle
the crested walk. The yellow too, of birch.

My hands tumble with tomatoes, with romas;
theirs the red that will flow onto pasta
until the frozen sauce disappears in February.

I stack them on the narrow sill of the kitchen's
west window and look out to the sturdy trunk
of a linden I planted four seasons back.

I pulled the stakes supporting it two years ago.
That winter there were eighteen snows. Inches too of
heavy ice. The linden held and sailed into leaf.

From the clear, early light I have just left I know
with certainty that I will die in autumn.
I am more comforted than surprised by this. After all,

my father died of a heart attack in October, and
my mother's cancer won in October. In Vietnam, in
October, aircraft and friends fell like leaves.

Yesterday in the cool, late light of afternoon
I walked, as usual, through Carnegie Center.
Canada Geese lined the walks and ponds.

The rough bark of river birches caught the light
and held it fast to their russets and off-whites.
In fields, wild, white asters massed like first stars.

Turned toward home, I paused over Bear Brook to spot
the slim pike who summered there still. So straight
against the floppy water weeds, she couldn't fool me.

I knew, and continued east along Alexander Road. Geese
crossed south toward corn, their V high enough to catch
the sun gold this time of day, this time of year.

That soft glow stroked side after grey side, the wing beats
interrupted, and the gold returned with each lift.
A brief, bright art. A canvas to savor all evening.

Not a sign of geese this morning while I picked romas.
But their art remained, inseparable from this crystal light
so sharp on what must stay, so easy with what must go.

Karl Garson
South Dakota Review, Summer1996