a butt-ugly rock dove sings a swansong

neighbor dave rakes his lawn from left to right, he combs the taller grasses over the thinner spots, grows his roses in military rows, parades them for his jealous neighbors 

he is a sculptor of blue juniper, his hedges clean and straight, he is a strict disciplinarian, his marigolds don’t cavort with dandelions 

he screams at the disobedient daffodils (if you won’t take the shape i make, then your just another weed!) he will not swoon a false swan 

me and the rock doves and ugly bugs perch on the crooked limb of a crooked tree, we watch him attack the earth with holy avenger garden tools, he alone decides what dies 

and what lives, and we, citizens of the vacant lot, the unpruned and unplucked, unloved by god, build from scratch with mud and luck, now we tremble when he stares at us   

we of the crooked tree can’t help but wonder, which way will he point his greenish thumb, up
or down?

posted for earthweal weekly challenge

Published by

phillip woodruff

i live in colorado, i love poetry and fishing, i've never been to kentucky, i own 5 pairs of shoes, sometimes i drive too fast, i like craft beer, i own 37 fishing poles, i've never been to iceland, sometimes i drive too slow, right now there is a black bird outside my window, i stare at him and he stares at me

22 thoughts on “a butt-ugly rock dove sings a swansong”

  1. Caeasar as the master gardener holding court in the green amphitheater, humanizing all creation. Oliver’s swan and Wilbur’s beasts will suffer no such perfection. What drive straight to heaven when you can get lost on a lovely meander? Great title and thanks for bringin’ it to earthweal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know I’m a gardener–I went to school for it, and worked in landscape for years, so I guess I’m a “professional” gardener, but I hate to it’s sold-out little soul the commercial kind of control-freak gardening that you show us in this suburban nightmare. I love the wit and somewhat bitter irony in the second stanza, and everything else, up to and including the rolling finish that starts with “citizens of the vacant lot..” At my place all you crooked tree people would be comfortable.

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    1. hey, joy. i was a little worried that this poem would offend people who love to garden, it was NOT my intent to offend them. i use it as a metaphor for what we do on a much larger scale. we sequester much of the earth to grow or raise only what is directly consumable to humans, ignoring or outright destroying anything isn’t directly “usable”. also. i notice americans in particular are very keen to the plight of creatures they find beautiful or mystical (you know “totem spirit” type creatures) wolves and whales, dolphins and swans and what not, i hear no one crying for the dung beetle… or the beatpoet =) just kidding. i know, i’ve gotten kind of preachy lately. i’m stuck out here in suburbia and everybody talks stupid and i might be going crazy

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  3. How about up his ass? (Asking for a friend!) I can’t abide people who have to whip nature into military order. I clashed with a renter (!) next door a couple of years back cos he kept trying to tell me to cut down some of the trees in my back yard forest, and also he didn’t like the bird feeders cos a butt ugly rock dove crapped on his precious Z-28. About the third time he started in, i said i heard you the first two times and he raised his eyebrows and exclaimed “But you haven’t done it!” as if i owe Mr. Next Door renter anything. Some guys think a woman is just sitting there waiting for them to hand down the golden wisdom. Pffft. My trees and i are still here and he took his Z-28 elsewhere. Long live us uggoes!

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  4. Smiles. This reminds me of an uptight neighbour I had once. I came home one day to find her weeding MY garden because she said the weeds were threatening her perfect yard. OMG. Plus my wolf dog barked a lot which also drove her insane. Luckily we moved before too long which was a win/win. Loved your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I especially love these bits:
    “he combs the taller grasses over the thinner spots”
    “he is a sculptor of blue juniper”
    “his marigolds don’t cavort with dandelions / he screams at the disobedient daffodils” … lol
    “he will not swoon a false swan” … double lol
    “we watch him attack the earth with holy avenger garden tools”
    “citizens of the vacant lot, the unpruned and unplucked”
    “with mud and luck, … we tremble”

    Liked by 1 person

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