Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Teacher

The Teacher

Spring is a vandal, a
spy of the possible, a black op
built on decay,
of green shadows 
made greener substance, banqueted
 from the veins
of the coffining earth.

From the loam of the lingering
bodies of the fallen
she rises from death
triumphant again

winter's last breath sacrificed
with a sunbeam stiletto,
gone from sigh to scream
in her succulent lungs

as she blows the black whirlwind,
the crusher of classrooms,
brings the gleaners of children,
and then, contrite,
covers gravemounds
with flowers.

We the most stormy,
most deadly of species

have learned too much
from the murders of

~April 2015

posted     for      real toads

The Tuesday Platform

Process notes: In Oklahoma, Spring brings memories of destruction as well as renewal. This poem refers to both the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrow Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, where 168 people, including 19 children under the age of six, died from domestic terrorism, and the EF5 tornado of May 13th 2013,  which destroyed the Plaza Creek and Briarwood elementary schools in Moore, injuring 377, killing 24, including 7 children.

Photo: Lilies, Up from the Grave, copyright joyannjones 2015
Murrah Building, after the bombing, public domain via wikimedia commons


  1. Two uncontrollable forces - man and nature. Your ending is so powerful.

  2. I have never considered spring in that light, but you're right. And you're right about us learning those lessons entirely too well.

  3. :a spy of the possible" - what a wonderful phrase! I read your process notes first, which enhanced my comprehension of this poem. Such heartbreaking events. So perfect, "the coffining earth". Your closing lines are so powerful. I dont know how you do it, Joy. Just am very glad you do and that I get to read it.

  4. Nature is cruel! Powerful poem, Hedge. This one is very good.

  5. Even without the footnote, this poem is awe-inspiring. Your opening comparisons are so original and attention-grabbing and the fourth stanza blew me away, not only because I am a teacher, not only because too many children die, but because you remind us that earth gives and receives.

    Though the topic is grim, this is one of the finest examples of an ode to Spring I have read.

    1. Thank you Kerry--your words and appraisal mean a great deal to me.

  6. Goosebumps in reading again after the decoding notes you close with...this is so difficult...emotively and imaginatively offered, Hedge.

  7. Yes and yikes--a very original take on Spring; and you are right about human nature for sure--I am not so much thinking of the nature part but of how humans--the very ones who dispute science--somehow rely on science to bail us out of our own destruction. We think we can grow ourselves into freshness! Ha. (I think we may function more like a mold.) The flowers that grow over the graves very powerful--I think of course of the song--was it Pete Seeger-- Great music and original imagery throughout--thanks. K.

  8. Startling, disconcerting, and extraordinarily different (in all the best ways) take on spring.

  9. Here we descend into autumn; Spring seems far and alien. The more so after reading this. Your poem reminds me that Nature is not only benign and beautiful. With your unequivocal opening lines — bang, we're straight into it, that other face of Nature. And of our own nature. Ouch! You got me.

  10. Wild and careless is how spring can be or maybe reckless and overbearing! Your poem showed us how the nature of people and the weather is so unpredictable and scary~

    Well done

  11. I've spent this entire month (all right, the last 7 days) repeating T.S. Eliot's words about April. But if I really think about the whole thing, it isn't all that funny... Spring does feed on dead things, her vines pierce the weak and her blooms claim everything. And it looks beautiful and bright, but the old gets set aside... In the Circle of Life is not horrid at all, it's just what must happen...

    ...but when it comes to what man has done (and continue to do) with everything in his path, it's ugly and so sad.

  12. we have, haven't we? if only we might learn that cycles and cyclones are part of us. ~

  13. Your ending line...what can I say? We've learned so much from the murders of spring, but yet it seems not enough for it to end. Such a powerful, timely piece!

  14. Ouch, but without the excuse of indifference. This poem reminds me of Robinson Jeffers' raging nature. I've never thought of spring as a murderer, a contrite murderer, before. But it actually needs the dead bodies to spur its own growth. Could that possibly be what terrorists who kill children because they are Catholic have in mind!?? Who take and destroy the young? And can the young truly grow into flowers on these graves? How incredibly moving and eye-opening your poem is!

  15. This is so masterful, I want to say how much I loved it (I did), but that seems inappropriate for the subject matter. Instead I will say I am in awe. The imagery is both chilling and magnificent all at once.

  16. Indeed we have. This piece, written with skill and precision, walks us through the garden and insists we confront the natural, the good, the evil, the truth.

  17. I love how you've made Spring so sinister!


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

Comment Moderation Has Been Enabled