Saturday, January 6, 2018

Weekend Poem


We’ve ignored the dead tree in our front yard;
It leans right, it’s rotted.
Too many trees planted too close, roots thwarted,
Hollowed out, pocked and scarred.

Broken off branches dangle from sticked limbs
Halfway down,
Have yet to hit the ground.
Swaying in the winter winds

Like a lynching.
One strong gust before dawn
Becomes debris on the lawn
We gather in the morning.

Bark sheds like old paint chips.
Carpenter ants have bored their holes,
Trees with cored out souls,
Every spring wasps build a nest

This is the fruit of our toil,
Our indiscriminate sowings
Into barely buried rubble and rock, unfit for growing;
Seeds plugged into a thin veneer of scant soil

You’d never know by a cursory glance:
Landscaped lawns neon-greened by chemicals
The transient summer flash of annuals
In edged flower beds: postcard beautiful.

I wave at my neighbor across the street.
I don’t even know his name.
Silent diorama of the suburbs
Plays out every Wednesday,
We bring our garbage cans down to the curbs.

Ersatz Tudors and Georgian colonials
Set back from the streets.
Our Lexuses and Audi 6’s hidden in 3-car garages
Trapped in 4 year leases,
Half-hearted, half-ironic causes,
Ready with our sad, scripted testimonials.

But this is how we announce our arrival
Into an acceptable echelon.
Barberry bullying forth along regimented property lines
Of demarcation, tended by migrant crews of five.

And if not this?

Then you are the picked dandelion
The trampled crabgrass
The hauled away clippings from hedges
And the autumn detritus.
You are the man who
Sprinkles cheap mulch--- too sparse to hide
The parched dust beneath

One Sunday before church
I borrow a chainsaw and truncate the old birch---
Angled to control the fall.
But a stump remains, cannot be uprooted;
Just cover it over with leaves.
We kneel at our pews, nothing’s refuted,
No one really believes.

I partition the trunk into logs.
The branches are fragile;
They snap like a pretzel.
This is what passes for husbandry;
My arms abraded, sore,
But it feels good, like effortless flat jogs,
Something old and honest to have done before
Another Monday in a tie at the company.

This rotten wood,
This pile of decay,
Is good for a backyard bonfire.
Throw some old cardboard boxes on there
And the Evening Post.
Burn it all up.
Stack the kindling,
Light the pyre,
And don’t stand too close.


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