October is the treasurer of the year,
    And all the months pay bounty to her store;
The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
    And fill her brimming coffers more and more
But she, with youthful lavishness,
    Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
And decks herself in garments bold
    Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold.

~Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 – 1906

     See the rest of the poem here.

Now that October has arrived, ‘tis open season on all things creepy and macabre.  As an aside, I’ve noticed a pattern -- my posts seem to rotate among: nonsensical, terrifying, and disgusting.  Somehow, this week, I have managed to combine all three.

A few days ago, I saw a ring of turkey vultures hanging in the murky, evening sky.  They usually circle lazily in a group of twenty or so, and they always stir a tiny pool of dread in the pit of my stomach.



          Turkey vultures circle death,

ring around a broken beast

          whispering its final breath.

Now begins the evening feast.

© Tracey Kiff-Judson 2023

You can enjoy a less gloomy Poetry Friday with Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme! Stop by and learn The Thing to Know About Stargazing!


  • Tracey, thanks for the poems today. I love Dunbar's October poem, especially the thought of her as she "Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress" seemingly not even noticing all her bounty. Later in the year her auburn hair turns gray. It's such a wonderful example of personification. Thanks for the turkey vulture video. They do seem ominous. Your "Undertakers" poem is powerful, and I like the spelling of the death/breath beast/feast rhymes. Very effective.
  • Okay - love this, in all its creepy, tense glory!
    Truth: The first time I read it, I read the second line as "breast" - and as I slid into the third line, I thought: Interesting...she didn't try to rhyme it --till I hit the end and realized I misread beast! Re-read and thus, my opening comment :)
    • Same! For me it was because of the turkey breast, methinks. And then I had to google turkey vultures. And it's the perfect name. (They look a little like our brush turkeys... but they're more landlubbers. There's no way they could soar with those vultures.) Clever poem!
  • You are now my favorite nonsensical, terrifying and disgusting content blogger. Undertakers is suitably ominous for the spooky season. Nice job!
  • Thanks for sharing your spooky birds - not something I have seen before. I love your poem, and also Dunbar's poem. October where I am is Spring, but the  'scarlet, purple, red, and gold' of Dunbar's October are colours that surround me on my spring morning walks in Adelaide, where I am visiting. Instead of Autumn leaves. I am seeing Spring flowers in all their glory. What a coincidence that the colours are not so far apart. 
  • What a perfectly spooky feel you've shared in your poem. I remember seeing turkey vultures as a kid...they were roosting in a tree and I walked my bike FAR around that tree. They just gave me the shivers then. Oh, you brought back that memory. 
    • Funny you say that!  This group hangs out in a tree together too, and I am always very careful to walk AROUND the tree.  : )
  • Love the gaudy October of Dunbar's poem.  And yours immediately brought me back to a time when we lived in RI in a rural area across the road from a field.  A farmer...or someone...dumped a load of manure and dead chickens in it. Not long after it was deposited there, the turkey vultures arrived, hovering to gather and chat before descending to the feast.  The stench was something to remember.  Any way, love "now begins the evening feast"!  Your poem is short and shivery!

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