Death smells like lemongrass

they used to burn these woods all winter

now the summers do themselves

they had a system worked out
that would emphasize the abundance

the entire territory was the garden
alive and growing like the mind
stepped outside of itself
and began to dance

time’s pole shifted a while back—
yeah—we were in reverse now
didn’t you know—

it’s not a place
until you make it one

like a ring just to see
what your limitations are

how well can you put last years
lessons into practice

a game of hectares, furrowslices & spreadsheets

a temple of agronomical meditation with mantises

when you’re there it consumes you
because it is you because of you

the pregnant deer barrelrolling with a smile
over your first edition fence

a place not to play god but to laugh quietly
in his face—the silence blowing thru the pines

you go there not to forget but you end up doing so
honing in on the accuracy of inputs and outputs

compost teas and microbial inoculants are to soil what kombucha and kimchi are to humans

observation becomes communication
every day—every hour sings a different tune

the finches sneak roosts in the trees 
that weren’t there before you decided
to put them there with leaves tracking the sun

bred, birthed, tended, ammended, and cut down
after eight months of watchful eyes

peering down and counting from the blackbird in the sky

it’s the same song by an evolving band
never once played the same way again

you were either there for it or you weren’t…

lentils spiralcrawl the trellis next to hairy vetch, cowpeas, and carter flax

what started as an idea and came out of a wound
of the corrupt earth to colonize with mycorrhizae

under the moonlight and with the stars we move slow like kelp
into our dying selves taking pictures

of the natural beauty—the sustenence of our meddling—the deathsmiling work at dawn

bees land on the battered tools and machines
some of the butterflies know to evade the bamboo deerfence

brought down by something as simple
as a foot of snow and ice howling

on paper you play the less goes in
more comes out game while battling hazard after hazard

like caltrans spraying fusarium infected cyclamen
on the side of highways to eat weeds

now the amber jars of essential oils
of lemongrass ginger rosemary peppermint
and lavender are miscible on the counter

isaria fumosorosea in the fridge
will mummify them in threads of mycelium
from the inside out

would a buddhist let her buds rot
or would she feed the caterpillars
bioinsecticides for supper

would she breathe and eat the spores of decay
or kill the ones that would cause it responsibly

you can’t bullshit yourself in the garden
it’s right there in your face all the time

everything you’ve done to make it that way
you switch it up—you stick with what works

you learn from your mistakes

even when you leave it you can see it like it gets sucked up inside of you and you carry it around

like a bluejay does a pine needle

you want to know that what you’ve grown
is nutrient dense with proteins

mineral balanced and alive

free from heavy metals, pests and diseases

not like the sugarpacked shit they sell
as produce at most supermarkets
sprayed with cheap deathchems in tyvek

this world is bleak as fuck—doomed to a slow painful death

but it isn’t in the garden

or it doesn’t have to be at least
you spend so much time as one
you know what to expect

you do it right and it can provide you with almost everything you need

all the worries lugged around as a human
dissipate among the quinoa, crimson clover, and buckwheat
at the bottom of the hill

the seeds of medicine to be cherished
in their infinite variation in the fall

where the garden doesn’t end
because of the bad weather
it doesn’t crawl into it’s cave
of the mind and hibernate until spring

they hire seasonal workers come croptober
to hunt us down like bucks on the highways

the garden comes from the mind
and so it returns 

sometimes it shows up in small baggies
in urban areas where people dream of gardening someday

56 thoughts on “Death smells like lemongrass

  1. danielpaulmarshall

    well this makes my garden poems look like a bunch of plastic carnations with chewed heads. this is a hedge-maze of density, like a zen garden left to the wild mind of Nature. some astonishing images “leaves tracking the sun” is deliriously good. you got kimchi in there, which is always a taste bud explosion for me & such an important & intelligent food source & you use it as a simile so well. “even when you leave it you can see it like it gets sucked up inside of you and you carry it around” this line really illustrates your passion & investment in your trade. i literally don’t have enough hours in the day to pick out everything i love about this poem, so i hope i got my point across. i can’t help but feel jealous though that i didn’t write this.

  2. my glass dreams

    Love love love your blog, I endulged and spent the last I have no idea cause my perception of time is currently distorted reading all of it entirely – disappointed is an understatement when I came to the abrupt ending of it. Please, continue to write , I need more !!! Thanks for your extraordinary talent of language and poetry. So uniquely brilliant

  3. tmezpoetry

    Well damn, ok… I usually never read long poems unless I am in total hyper focus with the my adhd and even then. But you got me. The lines grabbed me and ushered me in. This is one hell of a poem. I love it. It’s amazing.

  4. grevisangel73

    It has been awhile since I visited your blog. This is a wonderful and so creative, and says so much. Wow. I can’t even take it all in with the first reading, have to go back and read it again.

      1. grevisangel73

        I appreciate a writer who has the ability to create images and scenes with words, that can make you feel emotions that move you, and that piece did.

  5. zRants

    I’ll second that on the garden. My passion these days is sprouting citrus seeds. I love watching the little seedlings grown in my window.

  6. Jonny Hlumelo

    ‘It’s not a place until you make it one’ oooh dude love that line, you poem is so deep it’s like you keep going and there’s more to still find, I think this is not a garden, i think it’s a forest, a garden of eden, is a mens scalp filled with hair, but its not what you won’t let it become, thank you for that.

  7. Somya

    I loved this poem. It takes a special talent to make compost tea and microbial inoculations sound poetic. This was SO brilliant! My favourite line was “it’s not a place until you make it one”.

  8. pennygadd51

    This is a love song to your garden, isn’t it? Everything else in the world disappoints, but the garden is all you want. But it’s only what you want because you’ve made it that way, and you’ve laughed in the face of God. Brilliant use of language; brilliant imagery; brilliant poem altogether.

  9. bazzastotle

    Intriguing. Very deep. It will take me a while to ingest it, and like a good red wine, I’m sure it will get better with age. I’m not really into poetry, but I love this. Thank you.

  10. Matthew J Van Howe

    I really enjoyed reading this. It would be nice if people could treat their own life like a garden. If we could start over every year and try again at being the person we’d like to be.

  11. Donna J Snyder

    I’ve never had to Google that many terms in one sitting before. Even reading novels. I enjoyed reading all the specifics on fungi and natural pest control and all the vegetal references. This one poem is so dense with natural and cultivated beauty it could be used to teach a short course on horticulture. Very nice.

  12. paperpoemsblog

    Reblogged this on Site Title and commented:
    while everyone cries for help for the world, there’s someone planting, nurturing the garden. I better get that garden gnome position here.


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