Poetry - June, 2013


Adam’s three gardens

The first resplendent and holy, flourishing
over waters, trees with fulsome fruit,
witherless leaves,
psaltery furrowing
the land, a covenant of light and mist;
no want; creation swelling, begetting
in the shadow of white-clifted wings.

In the second, sin sprouted
rocks and spurs; acorns detonate
like grenades; mandrakes scream
bloodroots and tribulation;
serpents untangle from
dead boughs,
sunlight shriveled up everywhere.

The third the garden within
tending memories of rockroses, fallen
pomegranates and sallow sunsets;
olive trees weeping in the wilderness
blood-seared thorns and stargazer lilies
pressed into a crown; God calling us
back to paradise.



The old man, out and almost-down, reeks
of dank doorways, of unwashed clothes; sits

by the church steps, a Styrofoam crushed mug
held up for coins; he sees us, indistinctly, shades

garnering small graces at his expense; hurt heron,
will sleep tonight in a cardboard refrigerator box

withstanding weather better than we do. Here,
underneath the layers of dirt and shabbiness

there is vulnerable flesh, its valleys, its portals
sacred as our own. Behind the blank though watchful

eyes, beyond the scars and stubble and beneath
the matted heron-grey topknot of his hair

there is a mind as friable as ours, and a soul
sought for by the wandering, the forlorn Christ—

heron, God’s loved leftover bird, slow to lift
out of muddied waters into a doubtful sky.


My Bright Abyss, by Christian Wiman

Having struggled with a rare cancer that offered little chance of recovery, Poetry magazine editor Christian Wiman has navigated his way through questions of belief and death. His cartography begins early in his life with the story of his grandmother and elderly great aunt. During his early adult years, Wiman lived in a trailer in the yard of “the big house” where they lived.


To pull the plug

As if you were an odd species
of television, a fleshed machine
with un-rechargeable batteries.

Or a greasy remnant
of bathwater,
ready to rattle down the drain.

As if you were a clot
of tobacco,
something to fill up the gums.

Anything but a battered body,
one of ours, your current
passing between two hands.