Thursday, August 19, 2010

Poems by John Alter

The Ides of March

I am not much of a gardener. When

the ice breaks up on the lake I am not

the first to launch my canoe. Nature’s first

gold is not gathered by my eyes or hands.

I live through this change of seasons. A box

of last year’s potting soil patiently waits

for something—seeds, sunshine, rain—outside my

door. Somewhere in the attic paddles wait,

doggedly refusing to change into

something more relevant to who I am.

My thumb is not green, fertilizer does

not stain my fingers. What worms may do does

not provide me with reasons to go out.

I am neither mammal nor plant enough.

Listening to Stormy Weather, on Your Birthday

The nurses put a ribbon in your hair

before they showed you to your mother. Last

year a ribbon of snow on the far peaks

of Himalaya marked your eighty-

seventh birthday. Today, eighty-eight, you

pray in the midst of your life’s hallowed

clutter. Somewhere that first ribbon waits. We

could walk to your mother’s grave today, care-

fully, the sidewalks icy. Snow lasts in

the photograph hanging on your bedroom

wall—a ribbon of snow on the far peaks.

Avoid Commentary

Avoid commentary.

Life is not a sporting event, much of the time, and

even if it is that, a sporting event

let me watch it in peace, drawing my own conclusions, or


respectful of what it takes to observe, point out

what strikes you as interesting—if I ask,


if I turn you on, speak until I am tired of your speaking.

—thanks to John for sharing his work with Green Hill! click here to see more