Henry Lee Remembers Grandmother’s Garden

Trigger Warning: This poem, from the viewpoint of a serial killer, is the creepiest thing I’ve ever written. After reading it, my wife said “I’m not sure I want to share a bed with the man who wrote this.”

Henry Lee Remembers Grandmother’s Garden

I smile and recall the sparrows,
wings separated from their torsos
and nailed to the cedar fence

like so many unachieved desires,
an occasional feather ruffling
in the breeze, simulating flight,

their power now all mine to savor.
Art begins in the heart’s
crotch, compresses through the ribcage

and up the vertebrae, drills through
the skull, directly behind the eyes,
emerging as idea, as will or compulsion.

Or release. I loved those birds,
pulling them apart, arranging their
pieces by odor. How, rising from

dirty little mounds, their outstretched
feet squeezed the air from my
lungs, sharp bursts scattering

into the sun’s evening gore. I have
attained no higher state in the years
since that day. While the flies and one

lone wasp buzzed happily around me,
proof that wings claim neither heaven
nor earth, that godness lies within,

I lay there in the splendor
of the torn and detached, among
heads and crops, my fingers caked

black and stiff, wondering which
treasures, what other
sweetness the week would bring.

* * *

“Henry Lee Remembers Grandmother’s Garden” first appeared in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art in February 2017. I’m grateful for editors Catherine Strisik and Veronica Golos for featuring my work in their journal.

I’d read an article on what not to write about – reminiscences of grandmothers, gardens, birds and so forth – and couldn’t resist inserting those elements into a poem. The editor who wrote the article rejected an earlier draft of the poem…

Setting Fire to the Rose Garden

flame

 

Setting Fire to the Rose Garden

Each flower is a gift, a testament to
another morning’s arrival.
I watch you tend the firestar, its
mango-colored petals flirting with

the fire ’n’ ice’s elegant
red, accepting the pink indictment
of the flaming peace, and the
scarlet fireglow’s blush. You are like

a new sunlight crossing the day,
yet when I wave, a cloud passes over
you. Flames differ in this regard,
knowing they exist only as the product

of heat, oxidation and combustible
material, yet sharing their brief lives
with all who care to notice. I inhale
your dark thoughts, holding them

within, but later assemble my own
bouquet — wood chips and diesel
fuel, ground spinners, snakes,
strobes, rockets, candles, shells,

repeaters and a spark timer — and
plant it fondly in the garden. Oh,
how they’ll blossom before dawn’s
first touch. How they will shine.

 

roses

 

“Setting Fire to the Rose Garden” was drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge, and was recently published in The Paragon Journal’s [Insert Yourself Here]: an Anthology of Contemporary Poetry

Setting Fire to the Rose Garden

flame

“Setting Fire to the Rose Garden” was my sixteenth poem for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project last August. Many thanks to Lily June, who sponsored and provided the title.

Setting Fire to the Rose Garden

Each flower is a gift, a testament to
another morning’s arrival.
I watch you tend the firestar, its
mango-colored petals flirting with

the fire ’n’ ice’s elegant
red, accepting the pink indictment
of the flaming peace, and the
scarlet fireglow’s blush. You are like

a new sunlight crossing the day,
yet when I wave, a cloud passes over
you. Flames differ in this regard,
knowing they exist only as the product

of heat, oxidation and combustible
material, yet sharing their brief lives
with all who care to notice. I inhale
your dark thoughts, holding them

within, but later assemble my own
bouquet — wood chips and diesel
fuel, ground spinners, snakes,
strobes, rockets, candles, shells,

repeaters and a spark timer — and
plant it fondly in the garden. Oh,
how they’ll blossom before dawn’s
first touch. How they will shine.

roses