Robert C. Knox
I am a husband, father, rabid backyard gardener, and blogger on nature, books, films and other subjects based on the premise that there's a garden metaphor for everything. Still utopian and idealistic after all these years, I cover the arts for the Boston Globe's 'South' regional section. My poems have been published recently by The Poetry Superhighway, Bombay Review, Semaphore Journal and other journals. Some poems were also accepted for the upcoming anthology "Peace: Give it a Chance," and a collection of poems (titled "Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty") will be published in 2016 by Coda Crab Books. "Suosso's Lane," my novel about the Sacco-Vanzetti case, has been accepted for publication by Web-e-Books.
Telling Time in the Garden
Each growing year we travel from the frozen shores
of first life, first sightings,
the retreat of the glaciers still fresh in our memories
Till little white flowers give way to little purple ones,
the purples grow bigger, spread farther,
the green earth rises to join in the dance
of the freshly ritualized spring, windows thrown open to life,
jackets off, hearts ablaze
The little purples, the modest blues, give way to
the vast, heartening operatic invasion of golden life, expressive oranges, blazes of red
truer than blood,
hot colors for the hot season
'Summer!' is proclaimed
We are overwhelmed,
swept overboard in a sea of life,
I ply the tools of my trade,
wading left and right like some clanking hero surrounded by a sea of barbarians,
at times the wise commander pleased by the battle's progress,
crowds of Rudbeckia cheer him from the public squares,
heads bobbing like Black-Eyed-Susans
swimming in a sea of love
till the time is accomplished
to observe the fallen like a Victorian physician
trained to record the moment when inevitable decline has taken hold.
The patient will not recover
Neither will we.
Let no one say the struggle is in vain,
the game not worth the candle
We burn in beauty, knowing the winter sleep
is long, and always soon.
The Skies Affrighted
July: the jets are roaring in over Wollaston
at ten minutes after midnight,
How much airport traffic can a cold strip
of nothing stuck out into a coldwater harbor bear?
Only a night this warm raises the question
After a decade of urban calm, why this summer of jet-fueled nights
and ear-splitting days?
Do I believe these days, right wing on the Bible,
that no one else is listening to the world?
My overhead fan spinning on high, my device playing its mechanical heart out,
my cache of late night music
and even this stressed-out machine with its hot-weather hum
— my homely summer sound track: machines raising their voices —
can't blot the roar of the sky's displacement
Time and space have grown louder,
impinging on my fine and private breathing space,
a place of heat, birds, the wind, rain, music,
the solace of close encounters with the deep, enduring places
where human senses sip the nectars
of that first, enduring garden.
The city truck that pours its mud-black tor of replacement asphalt,
parks in front of my house,
engine running in the full heat and brute and blare
of the midday sun celebration
A city driver, paid for his time, helps his fellow stare into the
engine of a smaller truck, its sickness barely audible beneath the din
of roaring, fuel-burning health
I give up waiting, smiling my regular guy-smile, for the engine to cease its bawling,
and go hide amid the raspberries,
thinking I will bring them my ripest fruit
and beg them to take their load of liquid road
and pour black holes of anti-matter
into some other poor devil's peace of mind
in the name of infrastructure improvement
Just past five, cocktail hour winding home in its sweet and sticky way,
worker bees battling the sick comedy of afternoon drivetime
with attenuated nerves,
my neighbor arrives at his ever-rising house
to rev high his mega so-called leaf blower
— brain blower, mind-blower, blow-harder, the death of laughter and the keen of despair --
to turn the unbuilt space beneath Titanic's deck
into a dust-devil with limbs of jinn,
proving beyond disbelief that if you blow air hard enough
on beaten earth, yea, dust will rise
Only your ears will hurt too much to care,
assuming, always, you have ears to hear, lips to speak, cocktails to drink
Our hands lift: Tell me, neighbor from another land, are we still friends?
Even though I hate what you do with your toolbox of noise-makers,
those oversized, energy-wasting, peace-disturbing brain-cell killers...!
Ah, hear that?
Music of July.
Rain begins after midnight.
Beautiful, fragrant, summer rain.
Way to go, night. Saved by the patter.
It will keep my paradise going, growing, a little longer.
Which Way Do I Look?
So much life now.
Which way do I look?
The yellow jacket buzzing for space exactly where I pick the ripest fruit
from the bloated raspberry briar
The long-legged daughter in the house next door grown two feet taller
Two fat but unidentified birds play hop-chase on a brick walk,
the early bird with the mulberry, sure on his feet,
wings quick as prayer
chokes it down the gullet in the relative privacy
of his own good timing
The world hums with creatures who feed themselves
the ditch lilies of mid-summer open their orange day-glow lips to the sky,
their green bodies sieve the air
permitted to grow forth and multiply on sufferance,
a nod to their seasonal beauty this high-sun season
while their knack for growing, a peculiarity of their own green kind,
feeds a world of large, slow, fleshy giants,
bags of bones filled with rich, red, expensive blood
We worship their living
we blind servants who weed garden plots,
rake leaves from beneath the neighborhood's giants
gather our rosebuds, which are actually their rosebuds
(though letting buds flower first works rather better)
offer water in slack times,
hunt up native food species for butterflies
pick off marauding beetles by hand
fence out the neighbor's exuberant soccer ball
seek solace in the scent of flowered air
from the voices of beings too much like ourselves.
Which way should I look?
Two little maids advance on my doorstep to borrow tools
their vision an herb garden to fill the spicebox of the earth
while overhead the winged machinery of the traveling season
rumbles through my garden afternoon
moving more of us over god's green and plentiful earth
to the city of their choice
where all will arrive, with luck, hungry.
I squat behind the fading spears of the ditch lilies,
making the world anew with transplanted cosmos
The sky bowls over me, the earth grows still and breezy,
like wind chimes toning in a ravine, some atoms of the Blue Hills
microcosmically borne by winds of unobserved contentment
Paradise is everywhere, you have to look a little
to find it
An ordinary patch of the blue planet, the beautiful one
in a country that tends toward green, its mountains aged
like emeritus professors, gray-haired with spotty profusions,
better behaved and leaving the grad students alone
The trees hold up the firmament
the sky changes the picture continually,
this morning playing with puffy veils, translucent fringes,
the blue default deepens, then fades, then lightens up
All day it will do this
©2015 Robert C. Knox