Guest poem submitted by :
(Poem #815) Mulch
There where the punk stump marks the end of our yard we've strung chickenwire around a six-by-six plot of crabgrass In theory we apply a nice layer of leaves a layer of leftovers like eggshells and coffee grounds and then another layer of leaves ad infinitum or nauseam whichever comes first In practice of course we just toss in whatever's at hand: sawdust and guacamole corncobs and grass cuttings willy-nilly in gross disorganization where they decay and ooze together like some vegetable Dorian Gray until in spring and fall we spread it below allamanda and oleander camellia and azalea choking the weeds holding in moisture making spectacular over-achievers of them all If only we could mulch our own mistakes before they harden and stain dropping the rinds of argument and affair shells of dead dreams nasty shocks skins of bad habits lumps of neglect and sad pride into a pile that bubbles and burns in the dark until it's usable and by using we'd learn for a change and open and soar like hollyhocks in a country garden
Ever since my father's best friend gave me the book "Zinc Fingers" for Christmas, Peter Meinke has been one of my favorite contemporary poets. This poem in particular shows his mastery of imagery, metaphor, and rhythm, and it's a poem that begs to be read aloud--the contents of the compost heap roll trippingly off the tongue. Anyone who has ever attempted to make a compost heap can attest to the reality pictured in the first two stanzas, but it's the final stanza that is my favorite -- the idea of taking all the "junk" in our pasts and being able to turn it into something wonderful, "like hollyhocks in a country garden." [Biograpty etc.] Peter Meinke (b. 1932). Born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a salesman, Meinke served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1957, attended Hamilton College (B.A. 1955), the University of Michigan (M.A., 1961), and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota (1965). He taught English at a New Jersey high school, Hamline University, and Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College) in Florida, where he began directing the writing workshop in 1972. His reviews, poems, and stories have appeared in periodicals such as the Atlantic, the New Yorker, and the New Republic. The latest of his three books in the Pitt Poetry Series is Nightwatch on the Chesapeake (1987). His collection of stories, The Piano Tuner, won the 1986 Flannery O'Connor Award. Also, he has been the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Poetry. -- http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/litlinks/poetry/meinke.htm See also http://www.sptimes.com/News/082700/Perspective/Meinke_sheds_light_th.shtml for a newspaper article on Meinke and his poetry.