Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Summer Song

I WON A HUNDRED BUCKS for this poem, then entitled ¨Thermometer¨, when I was studying poetry writing under Albert Goldbarth at Wichita State University in the eighties. I think I spent all of it later that night buying drinks for everyone at Kirby's. Thank you, Kit Hathaway! I wrote its first draft, an exercise in synesthesia, in UP years earlier, and I thought this poem would post nicely this time of year when trees are in full glory and 100-degree weather is just around the country road.

A Thermometer On My Wall Bears A Flower 

A thermometer on my wall bears a flower;
the weight of the sun has tipped its scale,
by a mason’s fault where a tall old clock
shakes the room at the stroke of twelve.

The mercury flew inside the shafted glass
and wrote the fevered wind across its neck,
lit up its puzzled bulb, drank the morning
and attuned its ventricles to the sound of grass.

Down the hall of day, the silver instrument
marks the rage of hours; the silent riddle
runs in the numbered fuse, the artery of griefs,
and tells the singing weather to the belly of a goldfish.

A thermometer on my wall bears a flower,
and the horned toad sinks, and cicadas guess
the simple clue of love the mercury keeps
when summer bursts through the scabs of trees.

From Mikrokosmos, Spring 1989 (also published in Braille by The Braille Institute of America)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Big Bamboo

TO GIVE A TROPICAL feel to my Hopatcong backyard, I bought a cold hardy bamboo, Phyllostachys atrovaginata, to plant on the hill outside my kitchen. Not only can it withstand temperatures 15 degrees below zero; it also grows up to 35 feet, has the fragrant smell of incense, and produces sweet shoots in the spring. I wonder how many years I have to wait before I hear lawiswis kawayan and eat guinataang labong.