Bio Note: I am a professor and assistant dean at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where I teach poetry, Shakespeare, and a few other classes. My poems have been published in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, descant, and Di-verse-city, and other journals.
Glazed with Rain Water
for Beth When I rolled up to the curb and rolled down the window, raindrops dripped inside. She walked along the sidewalk, clearly unfazed by the rain. I called out to her to offer a ride home, meaning back to her place, but secretly wishing she’d take me as asking for something more, like her pledge to live life by my side, with or without rain glazing the faded red Suburban.
Gardening in Lubbock, Texas
He plotted a small garden in the backyard, measured streams of sunlight through pecan and elm trees, adjusted the plot three feet, and began to turn dirt, to prepare the earth. The ground, baked to concrete, resisted. He broke two shovels before turning to a pick axe, gouging holes deep to loosen rock- hard soil. He added peat, topsoil, manure, churned and stirred, remade this dry land, encouraged it to become fertile. He sowed corn, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, and watermelons. He watered the mounds and rows, watched sprouts spring up, culled and thinned plants, watered throughout the drought. Vines crawled, stalks climbed skyward. Then came fire ants, slugs, snails, beetles, aphids, thrips, mites, and no rain. Water bills spiked. Plants struggled anyway. He nursed blooms until they bore fruit, coaxed corn, cucumbers, beans to mature. The heatwave came before the harvest, felled it all except the zucchini, which thrived, grew monstrous. For months variety meant fried, sautéed, or baked. For a treat he made loaves of zucchini bread or muffins. Come Christmas, all he really wanted was an empty freezer.
Reflections on a Pine
After "The D.H. Lawrence Tree" (1929), Georgia O’Keefe He studies a pine in his backyard, limbs posed for a photo, stretching out to touch stars at dusk. He can see the curls of branches, twisted by time, wind, who knows, maybe volition, an urge to curve into the space of the painter’s eye and onto canvas, to achieve this mastery, even if it hints at the void above, beyond, below the majesty of a tree, whose limbs become roots in the sky, whose canopy of needles blend into blackness, a precursor of Peter Gabriel’s downside up, a topsy-turvy-worldwide-wonder which, for a moment, pulls you out of your place, lets you see your own rootedness to the universe, before you admit how small you really are.
©2023 Audell Shellburne
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to say what it is about the poem you like. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL