The wind is up, the ground is still damp in places from all the rain, and the flowers are bigger than usual because of our hard winter, all of which show me already how good a gardening year this is and will be. Likewise with poetry about gardens! We had so many superb entries in this week’s contest that I am happy to announce two winners in each category: Bill Sheldon and Kevin Rabas in the professional poet category, and Tim Pettet and Nancy Hubble in the non-professional poet category. Enjoy their work below. Remember also that if you want a poetry pen pal, the deadline is tomorrow. Click here for details.
to arrange as I desire. Welcome.
Welcome, I say. Breathe
in this air.
A spot of blood among the white
blossoms of the Bradford Pear,
a cardinal sings, “Lust”
amid the incarnadine scent,
as I muscle the tiller
across the yard into the garden
to turn into the dirt last year’s grass
clippings, orange rinds, and coffee grounds,
to work in the ash of winter’s fires.
I know you expect a certain thing,
that here should come a turn, self-
assured as the poem pulls the trigger
need time. You plant the seed in good
ground, and the sun must, and rain
must, and someone must sit
at the garden’s verge playing jazz chords
on an old guitar. Corn groans
in its growing. Listen,
what have I in my pocket? A chip
of flint. See, its edge has seen work
of hands now dirt a thousand years,
the thousand it took to work its way
up to our surface, for a tine to catch
and turn it into the sun of spring
planting. See, it is not shaped into a point,
or knife, not shaped to scrape a hide,
just a flake of flint with one worked edge,
for practice. Well, make of that what you
desire. We are only talking after all,
while we plant seeds, and tune
our guitar, while an old friend
sings his many notes all made
of one word. And under us the dead
and the living exchange coats.
all his hard-won color for the orange
beak of a mate he knows will come, if only
she can hear his call. Can you
smell it now? This moment? It is
— Bill Sheldon, Hutchinson
Attached at what would be his hip, if he had bones,
the bumblebee carries a golden pollen bag. –Flower Science Today
Ants eat their fill, and peonies open, blossom.
Blooms, petal heavy, too full-bodied for their stems,
soon droop. No, peonies wide open,
dresses gone for a twirl—
up with one hot gust from
city sidewalk vent.
So seldom do we arrive
as the wind comes into the world,
as a grassblade wind arrives
with pollentouch, dusted from a bumblebee’s
serrated, coal-colored, cave-colored
deep deep peat-colored, bog-colored
no-moon-night colored, hind leg.
–Kevin Rabas, Emporia
On Her Iris Farm
(for Stanley Kunitz)
Some iris unfold she told us
and hang like the hands of an old man
dancing Tai Chi. Others unwind
in a kind of Dervish twirl.
She grinned when we asked
with her shovel, she suggested
a bloom so yellow,
it could have been painted
with the yolk of an egg
laid by a hen that fed on worms,
a bloom that smelled like sunlight smells,
when sunlight enters a room.
Under her sturdy boot, her shovel
cut through rhizomes and dirt,
presenting an array of shiny blades
and the slender stems that hold
those old-fashioned flags aloft,
flags that furl before the glads blossom
and the heat calls out the hollyhocks.
— Timothy Pettet
In the yard, a hill of green,
Shimmers in the afternoon light,
A drop of rain on every whisker,
My flourishing poppy bed.
He and I took shovels and pails
That evening, quiet as thieves
To steal beauty from the edge.
Deep in the woods near his place,
Now lay in tatters, splinters.
We had eaten there, laughed
But people die, divorce, sell out.
So, to rescue living history,
We trespassed and we stole.
A spring rain made the digging easy.
Carried back through the dark,
Planted in the early morning
While their sisters, left behind,
Were bulldozed into shreds,
These whiskery poppy leaves
Did not hesitate to grow.
Hot, lusty fires of bloom gave
One last burst of warmth
Just before our life as a couple
Disintegrated into pieces.
Years pass. I see your new house
In town has a front yard full of flame.
On your knees, you look up
When I stop to admire the hot coals
On which you kneel.
Your whiskery poppy face
Smiles and you offer
Transplants come next spring.
— Nancy Hubble, Lawrence