Which skins enriched the earth
before carrot shavings and potato peelings?
I wouldn’t have written those lines
before I’d read James Tate; wouldn’t
have accepted it as poetry before
Ted Berrigan and maybe Ken Bolton.
Through the concrete driveway
a thistle fights for light, in
a solar-powered syntax
reminiscent of Roethke. I’m not
ashamed of my past, body
flaking daily, skin lining my poems.
Others prefer no ‘I’ in their poetry.
Let them read Ogden Nash. Once again
I’ve been wondering what poetry is,
what it’s made of, and who called
it that in the first place. The bottle brush
is happy now, head above parapet,
making bloom while the sun shines.
That’s how it is, the individual
utterance in the tribal context.
‘Take care,’ your mother said;
‘Take risks,’ the writer wrote.