The Common Good

I asked a handful of poets if I could highlight their work in the month of February. But alas, the plans of mice and men and half-assers like me. So, I’m amending my earlier design; now we’re going to do this thing in the blustery month of March. My goal in this endeavor is to introduce you to a diverse group of people all committed to the furtherance of poetry, or as I like to say – ‘the common good.’ I know for a fact they’re all on Facebook so if you’d like to leave a comment here that’s great, but feel free to send them a message over there as well.  

First up is a brilliant new friend of mine – Joy Roulier Sawyer. Joy loves her gardener friends, and continues to be delighted by the occasional glimpse of a random eggplant. She teaches at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. I first met Joy at a dinner party and there I discovered she studied with Galway Kinnell. I admit I hung on every word she said that evening…as I found myself hanging on these too. Thank you, Joy!


One summer,  
when the Kansas sun blazed a bronze enemy
and all the wheat stalks shriveled
like shrunken heads,
Donald decided we needed a garden.
Donald, elfin, nerd science glasses,
adopted us when I was twelve;
faithfully showed up each week
for Mom’s hamburger pie and roast.
All day, he watered Colby’s clay planters
of fuschia and white petunias,
but evening Sabbaths were spent in our backyard, 
designing his own hallelujah:  
a crystal waterfall, iced daisies,
a tangle of juicy strawberries ready to take and eat.   
I’d sample and swoon and praise and applaud.
I’d exclaim and whoop and holler and sigh.
Donald beamed like a high-powered alien,
hovering, zipping, bouncing from side to side,
a human pogo stick at  play.
In mid-July,
purple Easter eggplants dotted our lawn
for no good reason,
no good reason at all
I will never bow to the sun god
or accept his rule of scorching sorrow.
–In memoriam April 20, 1999

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  1. amber c haines on March 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    These words require a savoring. I love how some words demand slowness, the beautiful sounds in “Kansas sun blazed a bronze enemy” and “Donald, elfin, nerd.”

  2. nwhannas on March 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm


  3. Tanya Marlow on March 6, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    This is so triumphant, in the best kind of way. “A human pogo stick at play” – loved that line! Thank you, Joy – and thank you John for hosting this inspired project. I’m off to tweet it now.

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