bad poetry

Yesterday, Parker Palmer shared a Mary Oliver poem on Facebook, which I read before the morning walk with the dog through the giant empty lot behind my building:



And, wouldn’t you know, there were, in fact, some weeds growing in a vacant lot. And, because Mary Oliver and Parker Palmer seem to me to be pretty overwhelmingly decent teachers, I decided to patch a few words of thanks together, and I was surprised where that other voice took me.



This defiant flower

commandeering this half-crack of concrete

declaring eminent domain

right of crumpled burger wrap

just left of wadded undershirt

growing in wisdom and in stature,

rooted in this rupture.

Like the dumpster

and the culvert

and the steep slope on the corner:

all of them cradling some artful being

startled to see me when I round the corner with my tiny, happy dog;

like the ICU block where I arrived to pray

with the family of a dying man

(a crass and ornery and dirty joking kind of man)

all of us folded into the unit

laughing at his old jokes as we waited

for him to commend his spirit and breathe his last.

Like the craggy mountain path I hiked,

(roots of pine clawing at the incline

treetops angled precariously but reaching up, anyway,

for sunlight and growing down, anyway,

for water)

when the family called

two days later

to say this old and dying man had pulled

another one over on them;

that he breathed breath after breath

refusing to commend anything to anyone,

electing instead to commandeer,

declaring even in that slim sliver of possibility

that we beings are inclined, it seems, to BE.

One comment

  1. Trisha · May 11, 2017

    I’m not an expert on poetry, but I think this is fabulous. As I’ve said before, you’re a real writer. do not delete this poem.


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