Thursday, April 21, 2011


Stark Street goes feral for a few moments.
East from 60th Avenue she climbs
up the shoulder of Mt Tabor,
curving up in a cutting, shimmying north,

and then bucking south, before becoming
prim again, a straight Gresham thoroughfare,
smoothing her skirts: butter
wouldn't melt in her mouth.

But when she goes wild on the hill, all bets are off.
Thickets of invasives everywhere. The slopes too steep
for proper lawns: blackberry strangles the shrubbery;
ivy throttles the trees.

Martha points out to me
the massive stems of dead clematis,
dangling like Richard of York's head
from the city gate.

Are they left there for a warning? I ask
She answers no, when they're that big
it's too dangerous to pull the vines down. You don't know
what's up there that will come down with them.

So you cut them at the roots and leave them there,
more like thick and stranded rope than branches,
gray as the sinews of an ox
freeze-dried on the Oregon trail. They sway

and shiver and twist, and do little grisly dances
in the Spring rain. The war goes on: York roses,
Lancaster roses, lickspittle playwrights, virgin queens,
white skeletons twined with the living wood.

in response to this Morning Porch post.


The Poet's Lizard said...

I love those last four lines, Dale!

Alexandra said...

I love so much, how you describe Stark Street as a person. I always see streets a people and you have descibed this one so deftly through all its changes.

Deb said...

I wish you would send this to Windfall. :-)

Dale said...

Thanks so much, all! Hmm, Deb. Sending my stuff out? That's an odd idea. I'll have to ponder that.