Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Greenhouse

Greenhouse @ Noordwijk

The Greenhouse

"…only a wall of bad dreams separates me from the dead."
~Federico Garcia Lorca

Part 1

Shape without form
bones hollow tubes
delicious conduits for melons of yesterday's light
emptied, love that drips
from fingertips hung over the side
of a dolphin's drifting bed
silver drops of mercury 
up my face
hung dangling to the sky,
a root that reaches eyeless
toward a cavity drowned in moons.

My heart still
louder than the crocodile in the ivy
clicking castanet teeth in sambas to
a deaf rose
in the greenhouse of dust and wine.
Shape without form,
a dream so badly made
it's no different than waking.

Part 2.

Many of these nights
I dream the greenhouse
bench-full of musky geraniums,
doubled lilies, spreadfinger poinsettia stars,
clay pots of green bay, mimosa, impossible olive
arrayed in some sequence that
confounds Fibonacci
with its lack of gold arab tumbleweeds,
its rote root and utterly unpredictable
prime free knowing,
counting up to its number
of green secret selves.

I pass through the sleepless emerald-lidded city
a tumultuous order
going bench to bench in the humid jade drip,
pressed to compound the hours left to me,
make cuttings of minutes, 
grow them on, to let myself become
the décor I tend and sell
and finally know
the earth's sweet mouth
tumbling unpollinated silk flowers
to bright oblivion
in her kiss.

~New Years Eve, 2012

(reposted for The Tuesday Platform)

Images: Header: Greenhouse @ Noordwijk, by wot nxt on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons license 
Footer: Geranium, by Odilon Redon
Public Domain via wikipaintings.org


  1. This is so rich with imagery and life and death. I especially love the image of a erodible clicking sambas with its teeth to a dead rose.

  2. I love the way you present an abstraction, an upside down world in the first section of the poem, which sets the mood for a dream-poem and how number patterns and flowers collide along your lines.

  3. For me, Lorca's wall is seen from both sides here, part 1 its nightmare thrall--the greenhouse "of dust and wine" to too much like waking; while part 2 its somehow both sleepless arbor and and dreamy remittance. One can only lie paralyzed in the first, as on an operating table, while nature (one's own?) slices and dices the heart beyond repair. In the second there is work to do, and though it is costly, it is also rich and redolent. Maybe, maybe not; maybe the paralysis is insomnia and the cultivation in the dreams. Whatever, loved it.

    1. I think your first analysis nails it, pretty much, B--all of this did come out of dreams--one a recurring one I have of a sort of amalgam of all the greenhouses I have worked in, which I dream occasionally when life is very turbulent--I think it's about order and life, but as you say, who knows. Then despite its sadness and disjointed surrealism, I always find Lorca's voice to be very soothing and lullabye-like, sort of like a prelude to the dream state. Thanks so much for reading, and hope your holiday is happy.

  4. This is amazing (as usual)... the wall between a dream and awake crumbling...

    a dream so badly made
    it's no different than waking.

    The details of the blooms, almost coming to life, grasping, fumbling, like the trees grasping Snow white's dress. A dream that feels eternal like the restless waiting for seconds to pass.

  5. There are so many phrases, so many delicious word combinations that I could not possibly list them all. I will share them, instead. I will be back to read this again, and probably, again.

  6. 'make cuttings of minutes' that is goooood.

  7. Ooooh, and that cavity. Wonderful.

  8. Often it's hard to tell the difference between everyday life and our dreams. I really enjoyed all the subtle messages here!

  9. "a root that reaches eyeless toward a cavity drowned in moons" Beautiful I don't dream when I sleep. I am not sure if it is the medicine I have to take or whether I dream and it's better I don't remember. Amazing poem as always

  10. Hey Joy--this is a poem in which the voice seems to be in a turned=upside down scape in the first part that in the second, seems somehow to right itself--not that all is right, but to be growing in the right direction, even as it contemplates death and going underground, it is the underground of the seed and not of dust to dust. The cuttings of the minutes is such a great concept; the whole second part works wonderfully well I think--the first is a little grim for me, but also is very effective! Thanks. (I'm sorry if I am totally off-target--I feel in a bit of a fog--in terms of anything intellectual right now.) k.

  11. You should know I don't feel obligated to read you; I feel privileged to. It's just that of late I haven't had the mustard to sit and think - and you make me think; this pen, like so many of yours, incites more than just the visual. The 'musky geraniums' and the catalog that follows powerfully conjure up the semi-awake/aware world that hyphenates our sub/un/consciousness - and when I read your work, it calls to me from a deeper and higher place.

    Which takes energy to navigate :).

    But hopefully I've found a bit of a boost, and will visit more often... ~


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