Robert C. Knox
I am a husband, father, rabid backyard gardener, and blogger on nature, books, films and other subjects based on the premise that there's a garden metaphor for everything. Still utopian and idealistic after all these years, I cover the arts for the Boston Globe's 'South' regional section. "My poems have been published recently by The Poetry Superhighway, Semaphore Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, These and other journals. "Suosso's Lane," my recently published novel about the Sacco-Vanzetti case, is available at www.Web-e-Books.com.
Author's Note: Some of these poems are from prompts, including the first which called for writing a "Georgic" from a tradition begun by Virgil. (A georgic is a poem dealing with practical aspects of agriculture and rural affairs, such as Virgil’s "Georgica.") The poem "Fool and Sage" is an "elevensie," a patterned stanza of 11 words in total, the last line a one-word summation. This one is a paired, or double elevensie.
Snarky George and the Georgics: New England, New Jerusalem, New Lawn
I will not cease from Mental Fight
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's Green and Pleasant Land
Land should be used for growing things that are beautiful or useful,
A case may be made for parking lots, but it's an ugly one
Better to park our cars in the sky,
especially on gray days
when we would hardly notice them above the clouds
Land is too precious to suffer pavement,
significantly reducing its earth-given ability to nourish life.
Sure, cracks will appear, all works of man eventually giving way to water,
biota, and eventually sun-seeking plants.
Why fight it? Love your mother, and ask forgiveness.
Seek professional help
when planning your new world.
What, he (or she, probably) will ask, are your priorities?
A flower garden, a spice box of the earth, a croquet turf, the perennially unpromised rose garden,
a meditation retreat, a magical herb garden like Brother Cadfael's healing, crime-detecting,
herbal victory plot that demonstrates, by the properties of plants,
why the snobby Crusader knight from the continent
cheated the good-hearted, hard-of-hearing peasant out of
his most fertile sheepfold while doubtlessly casting lewd glances at his daughter?
Or, if your taste runs to traditional, low-maintenance
evergreen shrubs, Stubby George here will guide you through a tour of area industrial parks
to pick out the unexceptional foliage of your choice.
What, you ask, about the lawn we already possess?
Oh, let us not speak of this dreary subject. It is a minor matter.
Tear it up.
Banish the Kentucky Blue and all those ersatz, non-native interlopers,
like some frenzied, drooling, dirty-mouthed jingoist appealing for a wall (not a comparison
I often endorse).
Away! All ye narrow visions of putting greens, of English country-house fantasies
of green swards folding over gentle hills,
so the dogs can get a good head start on the foxes.
Think native, think ground cover, think perennial, think color possibilities,
think getting rid of the mower. The sprinkler. The underground irrigation system
sapping the earth's groundwater to keep alive a conventional
monocrop that was never meant to be here.
Advise your lawn service to develop a new line of expertise,
the advantages (say) of vinca minor, juniper, pachysandra, ornamental grasses, blue fescue,
common violets, star flowers, happy runs of low hardy vernal celebrants such as blue
Forget-me-nots which have somehow, this year, forgotten me.
A new frontier beckons
located conveniently just outside of your front (and back) door.
We are living in the country of myth.
That's your mother out there, dressed in green and all the vernal colors
that suit her best. Embrace her.
Rip up the freshly blacked asphalt
and turn the car-park into a water garden,
model plans available online (see possible tax write-off).
'We were the land's,' like the man said.
To make it ours we must let it do its thing:
Grow worms, grow bugs, fructify, hold water, help rinse
all the crap out of all the kingdoms (air, water, sky, ocean, overflowing trash cans, national parks),
both sacred and profane, we continue to treat as if they belonged
to somebody else, and not to us.
Earth is a family business.
Give it a hug, and a dirty kiss.
In the Beginning
I place my heart within the ring
Of stones where we will make stars sing
The stars, they tumble from the sky
Written down somewhere is the reason why
In the beginning are sky and earth
We eat the fruit, we cut the trees
we gather people; two or three
come from women's earth, like you, like me
In time, our little circle grows
Some pluck the strings, some plant the seed
We gather berries from the hills
Some falter, in the way of things, some betray
and some succeed
We venture forth to seek our kin
We speak with hands, exchange a gift
Compare the color of our skin
We share a few important things,
Where sharp stones grow
and where to drink when rain is thin
Then comes the storm that all must fear
A danger rides upon a spear
We scatter to the mountain fast
To hide in stone, to fear, to tremble and outlast
And hide in holes we would eschew
Were they not many, and us few
Storms pass, but they will come again
We find the others, now all are kin
Our sisters cherish and protect, on them our hope
for future rests,
Our ancient stories we neglect
but scratch some signs in caverns deep
where need, or hope, brings us to sleep
We clasp our hands, one to another
The skin we touch belongs to brothers.
Fool and Sage
Cavorts in media
Lies his way in
In quiet places
Writing on the wall
The Old Ball Game
I take a swing at Stumpy's curve
And leg a hit to short and dirt
And wish that I would have the nerve
to grow my hair or wear a skirt
Bello follows, swinging big but bleeds a squib
An easy out at second base
He hollers to the world he's safe
And snarls at me and tells a fib
He's stylin' when they pick him off
But bitches at Ump Stinky's call
I'm hoping he will get the toss
But he is big and Stinker's small
The game drags on all afternoon
They kick our butt, you'd never know
From Bello's rants and taunts and lies
You'd think he was the only show
I'm rapping with our Number Nine
Her eyes are big, her hair is fine
She plays the game as I think I could
But I am wary, and she is good
Then Bello roars, and flaunts, and steals a pinch
Nine swings a bat at his fat rump
He stumbles and disputes the play
"You can't do that, my name is Dump"
But rules are rules, and girls can play
It's not as hard as they make it seem
The score that counts is the game of life
Next year I'll start another team
© 2017 Robert C. Knox
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