Go ahead and write about it,
the milkweed raising its flags,
advancing into the strawberries,
the violets everywhere, placeholders
until you make a new decision, the chives
perpetually about to bloom, the first spring bees
coming to inspect everything, approving, drunk.
Crab apple snow all over the brick, the snowball bush
in blossom—fragrant sweet spicy—the plans, all the
beautiful plans. Yours, and who else’s?

Nature’s? Nature’s plan? There’s the problem:
Everyone writes about flowers, nature, the buzz of it,
this green, nervous madness; all poets write about
spring, new life—except the ones who write about
fall, winter, death: the reaping sickle of the bitter wind,
all that. It is enough that you are now writing about
writing; that in itself is indulgence. Must this also be
about spring, the beauty of the garden? Yes? Then here’s
another plan: Don’t forget to write about the cat shit

you found yesterday where you will soon plant zinnias,
iridescent green flies walking all over it, tasting it with
their odious feet; that, and the garbage that perpetually
blows in under the fence, candy wrappers and broken
bottles. Also, there’s nonstop traffic passing by, just
a few feet away: How much carbon monoxide?
How much lead? Yes, how much lead is now wedged
in the creases of your fingers because you scrabble
in the dirt barehanded, so besotted are you, so


Japanese beetles might come, a shiny army,
to eat the wild grapevine; the weeds might
take over once summer is in full swing, swelter
and drought, no more novelty to any of this, only
work and heat. Write about these, too, and never
forget them. Perhaps they can save you from
the sweetness of this unbearable world,
sweet as any cheap, delicious wine.




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25 thoughts on “Plans

  1. Don’t forget to write about the cat shit…ha…that made me laugh out loud…and loved the japanese beetles… the world is full of things to write about..smiles

    • Thanks! Last year, the beetles really did eat all my grapes. This year, I’m telling myself I’ll have to deal with them. It took me several years to become OK with weeding!

    • Thanks! Nature would like my garden to be filled with mint, morning glories, and very little else. It’s taken me several years to assert my will a little bit more. Milkweed, though, can go wherever nature wants it to be — I’ll work around it.

  2. Rhonda L. Brockmeyer says:

    To say I love this, is an extreme understatement. I love the dark side dancing with the light. Just beautiful.

    • Thank you, Rhonda! I was feeling goony and spring feverish on my way to work yesterday morning. I decided to go ahead and write a spring poem, in hopes that then I could move on with life!

  3. Great energy and great flow. line breaks are phenomenal . i could see this poem read at a poetry slam or seeing you do it live.. and lets have the truth… read this and we will, thank you.

  4. This made me laugh! Fiercely funny! I am the world’s worst gardener, manage to kill almost everything I plant. Yet each year I am full of hope and start afresh. I have just finished my latest ‘grand’ plan… and I can almost hear the weeds closing in already.

    • Thanks! And good luck this year. I often find that my garden looks better when I come back to it after a few days, sure that everything will be dying from neglect — and missing me.

  5. Yes. Lovers of nature must account for the wildness–we know so little, and can control even less. Yet, for all that, there is wonder. Great work!

  6. DANG, Marilyn! You’ve blown my socks clear off again. I love the uses you make of all those poetic traditions about the seasons–including the meta-awareness of “writing / about writing”–and how you go ahead and give those traditions a run for their money! Then the ending, with its marvelous paradox: “the sweetness of this unbearable world.” As a reader, I find myself like one of your bees, “approving, drunk” on the dizzying marvels in this poem.

  7. Thanks, Jennifer! I was in the throes of spring fever when I wrote this, and I couldn’t shake the urge to write about spring — so I had to do something with that impulse. I saw your great news, by the way, and I’ll make sure to order soon!

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