The Sirens of Fall

The Sirens of Fall

Shall I continue to be what I wish
The fuel injected Backpack Leaf Blower
Would be—

No, I think not.

For when the glorious calm of September afternoons,
Or the soft October air is stabbed
By a thousand home owner Leaf Blowers—
That gnashing, high pitched whine,
The sirens of fall—
I wonder,
Is it the Leaf Blower
Or the Leaf Blower Operator
Ripping autumn’s serenity to shreds?

This I do know:
I could hear a falling leaf tick to the turf
Before the operator fingered the ignition switch
To scream.

Yes, I call for background checks.
Walden as required reading.
A class on “The Rake” and its suggested uses.
Perhaps a license after some study on the subjects of
Bad country music at public gatherings,
Squatting in the passing lane,
Religious solicitation,
Telemarketing at dinner time,
Cell phone addiction over lunch date,
The failure to recognize that others exist,
And their preventative measures.

Can’t you scent the nose stinging petrol
Wafting over the alley fence?
See how he wears the comfortable harness.
Eye and ear protection
Protecting himself from himself.
Tube in hand aiming a steady stream.
The flavor of dust.
Listen as he cleaves through the yard, the street,
His weapon shrieking “Freeeeeedom!”
Legions of crimson, orange and yellow tumbling away in fear.
Chopped to pieces by his fury.
He cries out (though you can’t hear him),
“Here you shall not fall, Fall.”
The field strewn with severed laminas.
Petioles cut from the lateral veins.
Or rather, a salad shooter massacre.

And at two hundred and fifty one miles per hour air velocity,
Why the fuck not?
It’s a hand held hurricane.
A nostril of God farmer blowing.
The operator must imagine himself a conqueror—
After all, who would question his motive?
His dedication to a yard uncluttered?
His cleanliness?
His OCD?

Some neighbors may celebrate him
For there is no trace
Of the season
To be seen.
The colors removed.
Blown and bagged
Through screams.
But but for me
His dream damning frequency
Shatters these thoughtful days.
He clears the path for winter—
Now nearer than before.


mbk, October 2015


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  • tom on

    Wow Mike,

    I’m torn.

    As a Sound Engineer and location Mixer Recordist, I immediately identified with this passage. I can’t tell you how many times we sat around and waited for a Production Assistant to come up with the magic number of dollars to bribe one of those guys into shutting up for a few hours. It can be maddening.

    Then there’s the homeowner-with-a-half-acre-of-foliage-to-rake-damn-my-shoulder-is-killing-me side of me that really appreciates my commercial-grade gas-powered backpack leaf blower.

    Shit, am I that guy? When did that happen?

    I’m selling my leaf blower.

    Or, better yet – perhaps I should bury it ; )

  • Liza on

    Finding this post has ansrewed my prayers

  • Mike Dolan on

    There was a hill woman. I once knew. A crone, three hundred pounds and strong enough to snap a pullits head off by throwing a bar over the neck, standing on the bar, and pulling up on the feet. So it was done. A Pentecostal believer in snake handlers and the speaking of tongues; and faith healing.

    She worked in a chicken processing plant thirty five years. She was a lung-gunner. The noise from the machinery on the line was deafening. She wrote songs in her head, and sang them at full breath in her private silence in the cover of loudness until they were perfect in pitch and lyric. Much like Bach. Who composed in his head. I have heard her sing some of those songs while she prepared her pullits. Her songs were purely Devine. All unwritten, and now gone forever with her passing.

    Could it not be that there are people who create or take advantage of loudness to cover their fear to compose in silence?

    I know that I often sing while blowing leaves. There is no cover in the rake.

    • Michael Koep on

      Hi Mike. I love your descriptions of this woman singing amid sound and fury.

      And while I appreciate the need of a curtain to create behind– or in this case, a wall of noise to sing songs, without a doubt, I would enjoy your songs much more than the screaming of a leaf blower. Of course I would never want to change someone’s creative process. However, I’ve spent over half of my life as a rock drummer. This is a noisy pursuit. Especially for neighbors. Over the years I’ve learned to be extremely considerate of others’ peace and quiet. Good communication, sound proofing rooms, designated rehearsal times– all these things assist in not ruining someone’s sleep or dinner party.

      But when you’ve got three, sometimes five, leaf blowers whining every autumn day–throughout the day (because a few leaves fell), I can’t help but think, well. . . see “The Sirens of the Fall.” It is comforting to think that perhaps some of the operators may be composing operas, symphonies or poems– but to me, I think picking up the drums might be a better wall of sound to create behind. At least you can dance to a wafting drum kit.

      Sure, leaf blowers are handy, and I’m not completely against them. Why don’t we all agree on some designated times, say from 1-3pm on Tuesday and Saturday? I’ll play drums, you play the leaf blower and we’ll write songs.