My Daughter Picks Wild Onions Outside Abraham Lincoln’s House: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 11

Is it fun,
watching death come in
week by week,
ice crystals melting
by afternoon,
turning the last zinnias
to mush?
Who imagines this as
caramel apple time,
wool stadium blankets
and bonfires?
Well, I think they have
a screw loose.
I think they’re stuck
in another time, or
an advertising world
that never really existed.
Now, spring, that’s another
story — there’s a real season
for you. My daughter
picks wild onions outside
Abraham Lincoln’s house,
eats them in the car
on the drive back to Chicago,
where my son sees the first
painted lady of the year.


When a Solitary Bee Comes Knocking

Have you thanked a solitary bee today? Have you
put some pollen in the pockets of its pants?
Whether you’re a squill or a crocus, a snowdrop
or a winter aconite, your local solitary bee is ready
to assist you with all your reproductive needs.
Discreet. Friendly. Professional. That’s the kind of
service you can expect when a solitary bee comes
to drink your nectar with its strawlike proboscis
as its head wings legs pockets collect your pollen
and as you realize–for the first time–why it is
that you’re alive. So don’t be shy. Don’t be lonely.
When a solitary bee comes knocking, open up
your sepals, your petals. Stretch out your stamens.




For NaPoWriMo, Day 10. The prompt was to write a poem advertising something.





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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For Ms. Showers (for NaPoWriMo, Day 10)

April, you have misled me,
you have misled all of us,
with your teasing smiles
and warm caresses.

Now, your touch is cold,
and I shield myself
against it.

Where were you
this summer, when
my flowers were dying
and all that I needed—
all that no one could
give me enough of—
was water?

You offer it now.
Oh, how you offer it,
by bucket and pail, in
lakes on the sidewalk.
You say you’re here
to help me water

the garden. Now.
But April, it doesn’t
help when you smash
the young daffodils
down against
hard earth,

like a basketball
so many thumbs.

Then there is
your noise, April,
at night. I like
rock ’n roll

as much as
the next person,
but not at two
in the morning,
when my son
wakes me

because he can’t
sleep through your
concert, its cacophony
and strobe lights.

Everyone here is
tired of you, April.
I’m just the one
who’s telling you,
that’s all.

You say you don’t
understand. You say
you’re just doing
what comes

naturally. That I
might love you
again next year,
that I might
miss you

sooner than that,
in summer heat.
All of this may
be true,


But older, almost,
than the cycle of

is this question:
How can I miss you
when you won’t
go away?



NaPoWriMo, Day 10 prompt: Write an un-love poem.


Toads, for NaPoWriMo, Day 7

We all live any way we can.
We plant our gardens wherever we have room.
We relocate toads to sunnier climes.
It turns out that toads prefer dappled shade.
It turns out that toads dig in cool damp.
They use spaded hands and feet to escape the sun.
We have upset the toads, their habits of living.

Mistakes have been made.
We have made a mistake.

We wonder if spring can forgive us.
Will a toad forgive us, if we bend close enough to hear?



NaPoWriMo, Day 7 prompt: Write a poem in which each line but the last one is a single, declarative sentence. In the last line, ask a question.


Crocus (For NaPoWriMo, Day 5)

The bees
find a lit fuse
inside each purple bloom,
then gather up the sparks to make
bright fire.



Look! I made a Crapsey! NaPoWriMo Day 5 prompt was to write a cinquain. I am not at all sure I got the stressed and unstressed syllables right. I find it very hard to hear these things, which makes meter a real challenge. Also, “fire” kind of has a hidden second syllable in it. Ah, well …