Tohm Bakelas

red maples

red maples like blazing infernos
haunt receding daylight,
this autumn world is
rapidly changing.

roads you’ve driven
thousands of times
become unfamiliar.

you think of distant times
when you were younger,
hot summers when chiming
church bells meant it was time
to abandon adventure for dinner,
time to head home for the night.

but now you are older,
and your home is cold;
these roads are tired,
and you are tired.

and you wonder,
if you were to die tonight,
would anyone remember you,
or would your name become as
faint as winter’s whispering wind
on a warm october afternoon?

seven letter word

Five days before Halloween
the temperature rose to sixty-
eight degrees. Carved pumpkins
began rotting. Ants returned to
feed the colony. Spring flowers
bloomed in early confusion. Fog
covered the earth in a sullen grey.

You thought of all the ways to slow
down time, all the ways to set things
right. For in the few decades you’ve
been alive, you’ve grown tired. And
despite the season still being autumn,
you began to wonder just how many
more winters you could take.

A seven letter word flashed through
your mind. A seven letter word that
claimed the lives of so many poets
you admire. And the word lingered
like the ocean tide, rising and falling,
crashing and retreating. Not yet, you
told yourself, not today.

Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He is the author of 22 chapbooks and several collections of poetry, including “No Destination” (Kung Fu Treachery Press, 2021) and “The Ants Crawl In Circles” (Whiskey City Press, 2022). He runs Between Shadows Press.

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