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Autumn Leaves


Back in those days, if you heard of it, or read about them in books from far and distant places never visited, or too out-of-reach to be your next holiday destination; then you would have imagined its vital shape in your hands as you held its form, gently prising it open as you peeled, plucked, or sliced your way into its ripe flesh placing it carefully on your tongue; noting in the byzantine flavour profile, something racing out from within your insides to find a simile that would match it.

myriad leaves

only one earth 

feeding life



A smudge of grey cleaves to the skin. Dark wings uncurl the raven's raucous cry—harbinger of death—alarmingly alive, insistent. 


Wet leaves sink. 


The ink on their waxy surface slides off like waves over the insect bodies awaiting the next overture of the sky. 


People crawl inside their coat collars, mouth hidden behind woolly scarves. Eyes search the street. Signboards and arrows point but I take this path where my feet lead.


Hands pushed inside pockets, I watch the artists stand with their easels and brushes, painting a day that is not yet dark, painting it with people, adding objects, filling it with light.


I see a man, his chalk drawing washing away in the rain. What remains—something inchoate lingers for a while, even after.


heart beat

the lungs hiss

a salty song


Shalini Pattabiraman is a member of the #Deathwrites Network, an associate editor for Triveni Haikai Journal and co-moderator for The Haibun Gallery. She’s won the Ken and Noragh Jones Haibun Award for 2021 and has an honourable mention for the 2022 award. She teaches English and leads a poetry project for students at a school in Scotland

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