by Louis Daniel Brodsky
All the fall leaves have ceased their flights.
Only smoke seeping from their dying carcasses,
Like condensation trailing a high jet,
Remains ubiquitous against a blanching sky,
Then goes stale as weekend cigarette ashes.
The treetops are detailed maps whose byways
Are naked limbs; these miniature invisible roads
Run off into white sky like dry desert creeks,
While the unemployed eye registers a total void.
People deeply involved in outdoor chores
Fail to hail changing nights and hoarfrost
As winter beckons with slightly sinister winds
And an irascible mean streak that bears watching.
How beautiful things are just before they die!
Even if we’ve not seen them growing, flowering,
Something about an ultimate liberation let loose
In the going out blows apart the prismatic minds
Of those who dare stand at the question’s edge
And accept the unanswered paradox without fear
Of reprisal. Even a dumb understanding of nature
Is sometimes a bounteous kind of blindness.
Taking the Back Road Home’s fifty-one poems detail the life of a poet, commemorating his day-to-day encounters with friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers, as he celebrates "the dedication of the self to useful occupations," as well as his more mystical experiences with his wife and with nature. The poems absorb the reader into the writer’s existence and grant the imagination free rein within his timeless, imagistic world, where "the empty sky. . . / Is a huge music box with smooth duplex combs / Musing us into taking the back road home."