A Portrait of Autumn in a New England Town

Ben Pello

A man in a winter jacket pisses on a traffic cone in the parking lot of a trattoria.

The streetlamps look naked now, but they liven up when city workers hang wreaths on them in December.

The homeless shelter “temporarily” closed a few years back. The building still looks relatively well-kept, for something that’s going unused.

A few remaining smokestacks line the avenues off Main. They have long-rotted, wooden staircases spiraling up their sides. It’s easy to imagine the excitement of climbing them.

Signs from the mayor’s re-election campaign are still up, rain-battered and frayed from ice. He’s been the mayor for forty years and is half the reason nothing has changed here. He’s still chugging along after this election.

Kids with skateboards loiter the steps of the Catholic church. They’re asked to leave by clergy setting up for the Tuesday, Spanish-language mass: probably because of the vaping.

The bridge was recently fixed, the one down by the failing deli and run-down gas station.

Walkers avoid the section of town near the gazebo where there were organized protests for Blue Lives Matter groups. It’s like the area’s been poisoned. At least the gazebo will be nicer to look at when the Christmas lights are strung around it.

It used to be difficult to get through the intersections around the private school. They seem less busy than they once were. There must be less reason to leave the dorms.

The leaves look pretty brushed to the streetside’s gutters.

Ben Pello is a recently graduated M.F.A. student from Southern Connecticut State University. He was the 2022 editor for the Noctua Review, and his poetry has also been featured in Better Than Starbucks and Pendragon Literary Magazine.