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The Garden of Earthly Delights; Trees are Lying their Asses Off

The Garden of Earthly Delights

All morning we worked the garden
and listened for the sleeping baby upstairs,
the receiver pitched to full volume perched
on a track tie border
until it fell forgotten
among the prickly vines of cucumber.

Later when we fell together in bed,
black dirt under our nails,
we did not see the glowing monitor
next to open doors, and so broadcast our rough antics
into the humid world of earth and peat, happily
joined the coupling chorus of frog and fly,

and called out to the passersby walking
the near sidewalk, who must have wondered
at the low gasping erupting under the crown of lettuce,
who must have seen damselflies swoon in the heat,
red tomatoes swinging luridly in their cages,
yellow jackets frantic on a split squash,

and imagined what lusty circus frolicked
beneath the green canvas of vegetables,
perhaps some busy bacchanal out of Hieronymus Bosch
with naked homunculi cavorting around a fountain of ripened women,
the clusters of nubile lovers ravishing
massive berries, the peppers and the cherries,
and all intermingled: man with beast, fish with fowl, worm with grub,
in this most vocal of gardens, this riot of sunflower and phlox,

until the revelries ended abruptly,
the circus tents collapsing,
at the cry of a child.

Trees are Lying their Asses Off

“Evidence of a Primary Perception in Plant Life”
Backster, C., Journal of Parapsychology, Winter 1968

Some say that if you hook up a philodendron
to a polygraph, and then threaten it
with flame, the swinging pens
will veer wildly, a scream of ink
across the page, and if you
lull it with Brahms, or drench it
in your own tenuous tenor,
the pens will swoon
like an antebellum mistress with the vapors.
          These plants around us
are said to be so sensitive
to our human presence
that gardeners and grounds men
send beneficent thoughts at them,
as if plants were sleepy green gods
cocked so to receive our prayers,
          but be not deceived
by these leafy humbugs
for they are born anarchists
that split your walks, loosen
the mortar joints of your brick house,
cause your toes to itch,
          they will turn their backs
on you: put them before
an open window, and they
will face outward to the yard,
like pouty schoolboys held inside for recess.
          They who are blind
even to their own beauty
do not love you: the weeping willow
that draped it long sad arms
over your sister’s casket,
the one that seemed so miraculously
apposite to the occasion, so sympathetically tuned,
          even now sends rootlets
twisting through the turned earth
toward her grave.

Mark Kliewer lives in Madison, Wisconsin. His poems have appeared in JAMA, Tar River Poetry, Wisconsin People and Ideas, and other journals.