Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Cottonwood ghost

Cottonwood man where do you stand
with your hair in the wind and your feet in the sand
with fish in your toes with birds in your ear
where nobody goes where nobody knows
where the dark stream flows
 through no man's land


Like the cottonwood you blew
your living mess, a million white
flying buckyballs of seed
into the surburbanality of my lawn draped yard.

Your tall form housed a hundred manically
singing alarm clocks, beaks gaping,
and that chorus of night-moaning frogs
on the dark star shift gave tongue after tongue.

The clamorous rustle of your pale olive leaves
skinkissed air with every thrust of the wind.
Your probing taproot unsettled my foundation
while the squirming mass of your surface roots

shallow-swarmed the murmuring soil, tattooing
themselves on the soul of my shell, invasive grey
capillaries spreading and knotting
in a madman's macrame of satiated nerves.

Though the sharp chainsaw won, still I feel
those pliant root hairs stir and sigh, insinuating with
springing suckers an evergreen life in your shade.
Still, even in October

haunting the odd corner
I find a fluff of seed.

~October 2012

Cottonwood bursting out


Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Process Notes: I have used the term buckyballs, a form of fullerene with 60 carbon atoms arranged in a spherical shape, loosely here.
sucker — n
...7.     botany
     a. a strong shoot that arises in a mature plant from a root, rhizome, or the base of the main stem
     b. a short branch of a parasitic plant that absorbs nutrients from the host 

~World Dictionary

If you'd like to hear the poem read by the author, please click below


Header Image: Cottonwood Ghost, by kern.justin, on flick'r
Footer Image: Cottonwood bursting out, by blmurch, on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons License


  1. Just great stuff here. Really beautiful. I love all of it, but a few phrases are worth special mention not because they are the most biting or powerful, but because they may not be noticed and they are just so darn clever - the lawn draped yard, for one, which of course is suburbia - but also reminds me of lawn as a fabric which I think of as being almost Victorian/Civil War/mourning/linen/chemise - too many associations, but very cool - the frogs on the dark star shift, the shallow-swarming surface roots - again, these are not necessarily the most striking images of the poem - but it is amazing to me the way you just slide them in there, and whether readers always notice all your little inlaid bits, they definitely do more than festoon the message. Wonderful close especially.

    (I had contemplated, but not really finished, a poem involving milkweed puffs, sort of! Glad I didn't! Ha!) k.

    1. ps - the lawn brings up the cotton too - I'm going to have to look up lawn. k.

    2. Thanks, k--I'm trying to get an early start, as I plan to watch the debate tonight later. You definitely catch my double entendres well--there's one in 'shade' at the end, also. ;-) I was thinking about milkweed puffs as well--even though it's late in the year, it's never too late for a blowing seed poem, and I'm sure any take you had on that metaphor would be well worth visiting.

    3. You are right! Re "shade". No, every line has a kind of filigree of meaning - you know a bit like a shell, opalescent, where you turn it this way and that - that shade is very good there - and suckers - in a way it's all this figurative language (and word play) which makes the chain saw almost kind of shocking since that's such a big modern blustery kind of thing. (Only of course there's a certain double meaning in those words too, once you stop and look at them. Ha!)

  2. That was just beautiful!

    And thanks for your fun contribution to this week's Limerick-Off!

  3. You have used one of my favorite molecules - Buckyballs in such a compelling and overwhelmingly fascinating poem. The conceit is magnificent. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it several times.

  4. Wonderful when read aloud. The metaphor, so haunting, something (one) you can't get rid of, the allergies to it still there, the depth of its effect carrying on past its time. Wow..powerful!

  5. So lovely! I especially liked "that chorus of night-moaning frogs
    on the dark star shift gave tongue after tongue" and "surface roots shallow-swarmed the murmuring soil". But all of it was beautiful, artistic.

  6. Enjoyed this a lot; your imagery, as always, vivid and your metaphor carefully constructed.

  7. Joy, a gorgeous write. Thank you for your kind words on Facebook. xx

  8. Totally resonates with the desolation in my soul.

  9. smiles...this is lovely hedge....it made me think of the big tree at my parents house we had to cut down a few years ago...man it held so much in the way of memory for me...and though the chainsaw took i can still see it there...cottonwoods as well carry quite the beauty....was thinking as well of milkweed...ha...and tossing it in the air....

  10. Now this one scares me more than 'Silence'. I don't like to think of my partner tree being taken down (much less by me!). Like Maureen said, your metaphor is beautifully constructed. As a property owner I know very well how hard it is to take trees down and keep them down. Really well done.

  11. Though the sharp chainsaw won, still I feel
    those pliant root hairs stir and sigh, insinuating with
    springing suckers an evergreen life in your shade

    It goes without saying how tenacious they can be. Liken to life around them ever so evergreen. Beautiful verse, Joy!


  12. I am always in awe of your word stitching..night moaning frogs, skinkissed air and murmuring soil... Beautiful writing Hedge ~

  13. Such a pleasant read. I love your word choice and the way the words feel on my tongue.


  14. it is

    a pleasure to read
    and to hear, well i do a swoon
    of appreciation and if i were a howling hipster
    in *click* my fingers but as a raving pipsqueak
    you get an excited girly shiver, coupled with
    a macho sports-guy air-punch (or something resembling poetic karate) lol

    all in my head - because i actually like to read to get the first feel and then sit back with a camel and close my eyes
    so as to go to THAT place, the one we go to as we write

    its communal
    but this took me down the dark path out back
    where one should only go with friends . . .

    invasive grey
    capillaries spreading and knotting
    in a madman's macrame of satiated nerves

    YOU KNOW IT! (cue hip-karate-air-swish!)


  15. apologies for the typos

    my camel got thirsty! :D

    1. Worse things happen at sea, my friend. Thanks for the hip-click-karate air punch--I love those.

  16. wow this is intense... odd...was thinking about a man or a person in general... invading our life like that tree...wide open space for interpretation in this...

  17. My ex-mother in law was allergic to these. Placed herself in a nest of them for retirement... or I wouldn't know even what they were or the Italian profanities most qualified to describe them.

  18. we even have a town named Cottonwood here in Arizona.

    i LOVE when you do a reading, Joy! adds another dimension of richness to your words!

  19. Love the reading as well...great write..as I blow milkweeds to the stars. :)

  20. Rope swings, tree forts, collecting the fuzz making trails with it and lighting it on fire....cottonwood is so nostalgic for me. Thanks for the walk down memory lane....

    1. Yes, I bet lighting it on fire *would* be nostalgic for you, Corey. Burning down the old shed--what a memory. ;-) Glad you liked.

  21. Ooh performance! Isn't this new departure for you as I don't think I have noticed this before. I like the traditional preamble that felt like a spell or evocation.

    The imagery and phrasing was very clever and powerful with a sense of menace - creepy sexual and also like a cancer.

    1. I've been doing audio clips for awhile, but I did get a bit carried away this time. ;-) Thanks, John, for the insightful reading.

  22. Perhaps this is a glimpse of why other people's relationships can often be so mystifying, not to mention our own. So much of it goes on underground, if you will. Even after someone's clear presence has been taken away, oh those roots, they can shake the foundation, or crack it open. And with something so deep, so intertwined with our own solid ground, it comes as no surprise that there would be a search for seeds, for hope, for some miraculous return of what was so comforting and sweet.

    Hedge, to see all of this in your metaphorical cottonwood tree is impressive stuff. And i have to add that I loved "subur-banality" (hyphen mine).

    1. Thank you, Shay. I think there is always a piece of fluff or seed around from any profound upheaval at the roots. Re: suburban--You always get it.

  23. augh.. this gets under the skin. very effective -and haunting!

  24. such a vivid expression in this, the roots living after the removal of the mass was so well told. Lovely write, send love and peace ~ Rose


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats