Even here, along
an avenue as dementedly luxe as Fifth,
the sheer aplomb
of late-November ruthlessness
gets noticed.

The brittle discards
of iron-black trees
skitter ahead toward the gutters.

Cold pavement feels harder.
Evening reclaims its dominion earlier
and earlier.
An ordeal is underway,
though no one calls it that.

By its marauding, the wind
means nothing,
if not how the licence of summer
is absolutely over.

Yet it wasn’t so long ago, that last spree
of open-toed sauntering
and the sampling of zesty street-foods.

How sweetly outlandish,
those pastimes of the pastel seasons,
archived now for this looming stretch
of hunkering down,
soldiering on,
and being acclimated to things
being gone.


James McKee enjoys failing in his dogged attempts to keep pace with the unrelenting cultural onslaught of late-imperial Gotham. His debut poetry collection, The Stargazers, was published in the otherwise uneventful spring of 2020, while his poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Burningword Literary Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review, Another Chicago Magazine, New Ohio Review, Grist, New World Writing, Illuminations, CutBank, Flyway, THINK, The MacGuffin, and elsewhere. He spends his free time, when not writing or reading, traveling less than he would like and brooding more than he can help.