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Verses adapted from the 2023 album Creative Reading - Volume II, responses to the written works of a number of writers and thinkers including Gwendolyn Brooks, Octavia Butler, Mary Oliver, Gaston Bachelard, Franz Kafka, Sarojini Naidu, Richard Powers, Wallace Stevens, Virginia Woolf, Madeline Miller, Adriana Cavarero, William Blake, Amanda Gorman, and Albert Camus.

And so,

     Because he could help but do little else
     He reached

     He reached


‘Well of course we had to get rid of it,’ he said
‘We can’t have hornets in the stone retaining wall’

     And so, that night the spray soaked the stones and daylilies 
     Fed the legs of wasp and the roots of yarrow

     His hand worked the mallet, pounded the post which read:
     “Monarch Way Station” and “Backyard Sanctuary” (certified)

          A scowl for the ReelGreen sod next door
          But compost for the flowering hawthorn, aster, and bergamot

‘It’s a complete transformation
A new way of thinking, our connection to it all
The world and us, we and the world

     ‘Of course, it’s a lot of work . . . making it like it was, building it back . . . 
     But in the end, you know, it will be worth it.’

               We Jazzed June


He stood on the worn staircase looking down
His feet shifted but remained on the second step

Below, the crumbling rocks of the Michigan basement 
     A damp dirt floor; below
     Somewhere, a partially-collapsed coal bin
     Somewhere, relics from previous lifetimes
          A forgotten coffee can of nails
          A mouldering algebra book
          A daughter’s wilted macrame

His feet shifted.

     Somewhere, a silverfish scrambled from the light above
          hidden perhaps in the shadow of his profile
     Somewhere, a rodent shrank into a corner
     Somewhere, a woodlouse fed slowly upon support beams

His tread marked the damp-coated step

     Somewhere his feet were drawn downwards and rooted
     Somewhere, his face met a phantom web
     Somewhere, lungs inhaled it all

And so, his hand on the spongy post of beech

     Somewhen, Her hand on the brush that once painted it brown
     His gloves tying a rope for the dog
     His small pen knife carving the names of fairy tales
     Her tiny arms wrapped around the pole while she cried
     Their hands slipping past as they sought a private place
     Her family’s chest of drawers leaning against it
     The rolling stone that left the chip and dent
     His friends’ braced palms jacking it into place
     His idea and shovel
     The root which once charmed his feet


“…It was found that many chickens, raised in quarantine, will not leave their shelter even when a coop door is left open. . . “

They had imagined the sunroom addition for years, but could not finance it
     Until now, of course 
          With the inheritance

Restful, open, full of light
     A place for coffee, a book, even biscuits

A refuge, he imagined. A harbor. A sanctuary.
     He decorated it with exotic plants
          Posted videos online

Doordash would visit, an Amazon drone
     He laughed at the rain upon the tempered UV windows

And so, at night, over wine, under the glass-streaked stars
     A possum would wander past
          Peer into the fold


Last year’s flowers, the hardier for their trials 
     Meet the new buds with disregard 
          Do not report what they do not see 

Blight in August
     Curdling the leaves of snakeroot and aster
          Starching his favored tea rose

He found it there weeding
     His knees against the earth
          Secured by a garden cushion

He moaned there by its roots
     Made his vows to its thorns
          Bargained as ever with the night-time silence

But then, a canker on the bee balm – 

     And so, the copper fungicide to save them
          The baking soda and prayer

That evening,
     The whine, the call of a sickened animal
          An unbecoming disruption to the still air
               It meant nothing at all.


And so,

He fell at last upon the claying soil, 
     –Months of care washed away in the downpour–
          Squeezed its spongy flesh with calloused fingers

If the neighbors peered from their cool bay windows, he would not know.
     Phlox and willow, vervain and balm, vanished
          A rubber soaker hose lay uselessly 

“Always next year,” she had said to him
     Some time this morning
          Some time ago

To plow it all over, to rip it out
     To expunge the oath, the sacrifice, the act
          . . . He cursed his denial, the idealism and impotence

A Lawn-Boy across the street belched on sod 
     The Ortho Man parked his truck down the block
          Here the orange “Tall Weeds and Grass” citation still decorated his door

That evening, that autumn, that generation,

     He let the dried plants lie,
     He turned the clay with mulch

     Brought the survivors in to shelter winter 
     Buried bulbs deep in November mud …

     Lifted a quiet finger at his world
     Penciled a planting map on her stationery
     Dreamed of wasp and monarch
     Left the muck beneath his nails
     Awaited the next calamity
     Made his vows against the gods

Audio Drama and Explorations
Essai on Culture and Language
Connections and Events

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