Saturday, September 12, 2009


I have been watching MAN VS WILD with Bear Grylls for the last four hours. I tell myself that if something I see saves my life one day I don't really give a shit if it's fake. But it's not like I'm going to be in the jungles of Vietnam or the slopes of Everest any time soon. They should do a show where they drop him into the heart of Vancouver (my next show) with nothing but a few chapbooks and a roll of duct tape.

I like his accent and the way he says things like, "John Thomas." Quote, "you've gotta watch out for leeches out here. They love to hide in crevices. There's a story about an American soldier in Vietnam who had a leach swim right up inside his John Thomas and attach itself to his bladder."

Good to know Bear. Good to know.



My grandfather kept a garden
Diverse as an Ellis Island Ferry
In which no scent
or color ever repeated.
But when it came to his second language
He was never one for variety—
The only English
He ever spoke to me being
“Dabbie. You help me today.”
Hearing it, my hands would cramp
In anticipation of the work
that was to come.

He had tomato plants bent in helix
Around spiral fences
and squash bulbous and heavy
causing the arms of their plants
to sag back to the earth.
Once, I plucked them too early.
That night dinner was a chewy stirfry.
We gnawed like cows on cud
Compliments of my untrained eye.

The next time I heard it
“Dabbie. You help me.”
I was demoted to weed pulling.
This being the only manual labor
I’d ever known
My chubby paws curled around
Thorny bases—Every hour my hands
Slowly swelling into pincushions.

As I worked
My grandfather’s gaze fell soft
On his bouquet
Everything from cabbage leaves
to jalapeno vines
And I sensed that he was not
Lost in thought
As much as admiration.

The kind that only a man
Who spent five decades digging
irrigation on a company farm can have.

Those fields
were as different from his garden
As two plots of land could be—
Flat uniformed boxes
They subjected the eye to an ocean
of asparagus. One shade of pale green
beveling over the horizon.

I have seen people work them
With their eyes closed. The arc
Of the sickle becomes like a heartbeat—
In lettuce country, severing heads
Like drawing breath. When I remember them
I receive visits from an unspoken fear
That too many of our actions are involuntary.

But the gardener knows liberty.
I’m sure his only disappointment
Were the flowers at his funeral.
One kind of rose,
One hue, the same
Perfumy sweet stench.
So different from his back yard
With its teeming huddled masses.


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