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National Poetry Month meets My Barefoot Wandering and Writing

April 2, 2015

April = National Poetry Month in the U.S.; the third week of April is California Native Plant Week in California.

I’m looking forward to combining both of these favorite subjects on April 18 when I will be presenting a poetry reading/slide show with my native-plant-and-poetry-buddy Chuck Wright. You’ll find us at 2:30 at the Cypress Branch Public Library, ready to share our love for the native plants and wild places of Orange County, CA. (I will be the one without shoes . . . hmmm . . . I hope the library doesn’t have a “no shoes/no reading” policy . . . )

Chuck under oak

Chuck the poet, hard at work.

toes and cottonwood leaf

I love cottonwood leaves & poetry & barefoot wandering . . .

non-native invasive black mustard near Irvine Park

Pure spring beauty or pure evil? Read on . . .

Here’s to National Poetry Month! (The following poem is in response to views like the one in the photo above showing Orange County’s annual bloom of non-native invasive mustard in our local hills . . . a display many folks think is “beautiful” . . . but if they knew how these plants have destroyed so much of California’s native grasslands . . . might they look at these yellow flowers in a whole new way?)

Like a golden dagger inlaid with emerald

and much admired for its gaudy decoration,
so these hills are venerated for
how they light up every year with shiny
grass and brilliant mustard glow.

What if one day you heard the story of
the dagger’s history: “With this weapon
so-and-so stabbed and killed
your great-great-grandfather. And his wife.”

I think about this sometimes after rain
stirs the patient hills back into color:
too-green sheen of noxious annuals,
yellow epidemic of mustard flower—

weapons of death in our Orange County wildlands.
What is in the eye of the beholder?

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