On Home Turf and Writing About Dirt

I haven’t posted much of my own poetry since I got home from school for winter break, but this doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. My desk in my bedroom is one of my favorite places to write. From here I can look out at a snowy yard and whatever variety of precipitation is falling from the sky while wrapped in a blanket and drinking peppermint tea. With a month off from school I’ve been doing a lot of writing along with playing my new mandolin, cross country skiing, and baking things like home-made Reese’s peanut butter cups. Also fit a family vacation to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the midst of all that.

Here is a poem I began back in school, but which has undergone major editing recently. It has an environmental bent, or maybe an emotional one and is inspired by a semester’s worth of reading about bioremediation of soils on old industrial sites. I think the undertones speak to my recent revelation that the people/families/places/ideas/memories are ALWAYS more complicated than they first appear.

As Reverend Patti Nakai of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago says, “Life is always throwing monkey wrenches in the calculating machinery of your mind.” Coming to terms with this is not always easy. Maybe our job is finding some way to be comfortable with our lack of control in this whole craziness.

Here’s a poem that came out of all this thinking as well as a photo from Jim Richardson’s project, “Our Good Earth” which aims to educate people about the effects of soil degradation around the globe.


Let’s Give Voice to Contaminated Soil

My mind is somewhere else

with someone else.

Do not knock.

I do not want to greet you

at my eyelids or lips.

My inside is lacking

its usual light

which simply

is not shining today.

Let me cave in on myself

so I can finally become

a pile of biodegradables,

purely compostable,

and ready to be digested by worms.

I gave my nutrients to others,

and now keep the heavy metals,

those real emotional contaminents

are locked up safe in my pores.


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