Norm Sibum

Three Poems

The Doings in a Small Backyard

The tulip tree in my old landlady’s patch
Of semi-private paradise, every blade of grass
Fought for, used to lord it over the garden blooms,
Its trout-bright blossoms showing off, she gone away
                            to rot in a home as she waits to die.
Yes, our summer is history, —the thing is finished,
The equinoctial demarcation that divides
The sentient mind from old age’s twittering,
That cleaves a world of barbecues from snowshoe weekends
Not yet engaged. The earth, a little coy, made her obeisance, —
               Helios – jaded, knackered – shrugged.
Even so, we have loved – so the evidence says.
Love, love, love, and it’s pumpkin time.
Love, love, love and look, your lotto winnings,
A few marigolds winking at a few sluggish bees.
Getting dark earlier . . . mid-terms attracting sleaze . . .
                            In light of which, asters, peonies and the quince ask for
A quorum in the afternoon: the mind is treachery, and consciousness is
A toll-free exchange, —the yellow-bottomed, tripping spider agrees.
This yard’s new owner? Keen on art, he might keep the yard, — he might plow it up
With an animus born of pay-to-play. So much for the rosebush, —
So much for the geraniums cutting capers.
Shall they pull off a false flag event in a border town? Saturate Vermont
With BBC ops? Surely, there’s no end to subprime mortgages.
Surely, the picturesque is one-tenth natural pretty stuff,
Six-tenths a settler program, three parts Armageddon
Off the cuff. The cherry tree in its dervish dance,
Rattled in a stiffening breeze, seems to be whispering,
But is anyone listening? We’ve loved, me and the birds and the bees.
All’s well in Washington that pleads the fifth.

A pensive sort, I cry a little for the memory:
My old landlady, nobody’s fool, her Russian heart immense,
Would snip the grass with scissors as she lay
On her side in the sweltering moonlight like a lover
Swaddled in love, the man she had a brute, her man-child son a loon
Who collapsed at her feet, stone-dead just like that,
And then she thought she might as well die, too.


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