particular effort is, in so many ways, a massive example of
the In My Backpack web site in development, the From
the Backpack project in practice, and the way ideas circle and
recycle and weave together around me in general.
fires” has been worked on many times, and produced in a few
places. It has been a class project in school and a chapter
Just Drifts Away.
I’ve left most of the material in this post intact from what
I could find as the most recent version that had appeared on
the web site. So… it may seem a bit confusing in the ground
it covers in the introduction, but for me that only demonstrates
how much some of my material continues to stay with me and cross
into other areas.
yeah… The reference you see to the name and its involvement
in a separate project… well… that idea remains true. October
Fires is the name I am using for a large effort I am working
in that has nothing to do with this essay. Hopefully a curtain
rising isn’t too far away on that one. Easiest explanation…
I just like the name.
here we go… the 2018 posting of a 2012 book chapter from a 2003
posting of a now roughly twenty-five year old essay that can
trace wisps of inspiration to a fall evening about thirty years
~ ~ ~
time I have accumulated quite a collection of articles, poems
and such that have never been published. Some were turned in
for school projects. Others were developed for different reasons.
This column is intended to be an on-going effort to revisit
them. When possible, I will include a brief introduction to
the piece, trying to include when and why it was produced, and
also if I have modified it.
~ ~ ~
have been fascinated by the title “October Fires” since the
fall of 1989. I was a student at Syracuse University at the
time, and October nights were normally crystal clear and cool.
Often it was early in this month when the first incredible scents
of autumn fires would fill the night air. I was walking with
some friends of mine and thoughts just flooded out for a multitude
of projects and future goals.
I am using this title for a different project that stays true
to that original theme… one which I hope is destined, of course,
to be the next Harry Potter-like phenomenon, in theaters and
bookstores near you shortly... but this old essay has a soft
spot in my thoughts regardless of where the name may travel.
believe it was written in the fall of 1991 for a class I was
taking at Rhode Island College. I have reprinted it here with
absolutely no changes to the final version submitted at the
end of the semester. Take note of the man walking the dog. My
grandfather used to love to run errands so he could sneak a
cigarette. A small nod to Pepe.
~ ~ ~
fireworks of nature fade as darkness approaches. I step out onto
the front stairs of the house, the metal upon metal slam of the
screen door echoes through the neighborhood. With no particular
destination in mind, I begin to wander through my little portion
of the city.
four walls in every room of the apartment are far too confining.
I am looking for a release, and I find it, in the everyday tasks,
the carefree world of children, the crystal clear sky and the
the street, a gentleman walks along with his Dalmatian, pretending
not to notice me. He pauses to light a cigarette, not so much
sharing a moment with man’s best friend, but using it instead
as an excuse to disguise his indulgence of a condemned pleasure.
The dog looks up at me then looks down, apparently finding the
stick in front of him more interesting. Answering to a silent
tug of the leash, he leaves his discovery to again race in front
of the figure along the sidewalk.
move slowly along, and cross the street after about 100 yards
to enter a parking lot. In front of me, a fading chalk hopscotch
outline invites me to skip toward the concrete and brick building
beyond it. I turn to the left and cross a playground, where four
by four wooden beams extend out from the shreds of old tires that
pad the ground. I can still hear the laughing of the children
who woke me this morning ringing in the air.
spin around with my back now to a swing and sit, my arms curled
around the chains and my hands in my pockets. The stars are out
tonight. The shadowy arms of the surrounding oaks reach for the
tiny sparks of light, as though chasing a dream or two of their
cool breeze carries the aroma of the first fires of the season
being lit. Not like those to be made in upcoming months for warmth,
but fires with the wonderful smell belonging to a crisp autumn
dog is on the opposite side of the road, heading the other way
now. I glance again to the clear night sky, thinking maybe it’s
time to go that way too. I stand, raise my hands to my jacket
collar, and turn it up as I retrace my steps back home.