It is the end of the first week of April 2018, and it is National Poetry Month in the U.S. A contemporary American poet named Laurel Blossom (born 1943) is someone whose poetry I recently stumbled upon. Among Ms. Blossom’s accomplishments is that she served fairly recently, from April 2015 – April 2017, as the Poet Laureate of the town of Edgefield, South Carolina (a Poet Laureate being a poet officially appointed by a government or conferring institution, typically expected to compose poems for special events and occasions).
Ms. Blossom’s books of poetry include Longevity (2015) and Degrees of Latitudes (2007). Her collected books of poems are Wednesday: New and Collected Poems (2004), The Papers Said (1993), What’s Wrong (1987) and Any Minute (1979). Additionally, her poems have appeared in a number of literary journals and in the anthologies 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day (2005), Lights, Camera, Poetry (1996) and Southern Poetry Review, Volume I: South Carolina (2007).
For Stan (1941 – 1976)
You are the tenor singing inside me,
making a silence beside the song,
calling it harmony, making a charm
to hang on my jingling bracelet of longing.
(originally published in Jasper: The World of Columbia (SC) Arts,March/April 2012).
The Papers Said
In Kenya they have two paved highways.
Commuters throw garbage out the windows to baboons
so used to being fed this way
they wait at intervals like pets or trashcans.
One day a man threw out an orange
he’d filled with chili powder just for the hell of it
to see what would happen (it
rolled in the red dust at the highway’s
edge) because the man hated those fucking baboons
or whatever the word is in Swahili, the way
they jerk off at the side of the road, or show their
disgusting red cans
to each other, and this one not especially orange
got picked up by one of those fuckers, who pushed it
into his mouth and bit down. The white man in the green car
on the liquid red highway
under the burning blue sky (or whatever the baboon
word is for hellfire) – the man in the green car went
Baboons scream as only baboons can.
The man felt merciful: no more living trashcans.
He forgave his wife. As the sky turned the brilliant orange
of an African sunset, he drove home. It
gratified him to see the sides of the highway
deserted, the entire baboon
population he’d driven away.
For a while, he went out of his way
to be nice to his wife and children. He let them
T.V., on the weekend he bought a six-pack of
orange pop, packed it
in the car and took them all for a drive along the highway.
Of course the baboons
were back; he expected that. Baboon
Attacks, however, he did not expect, especially the way
it seemed to recognize the green car (uncanny,
the papers called it), hurled itself at the open window
when an orange
shape glistened briefly there, and ripped the man’s throat out. Call it
whatever you like, poetic justice, but people aren’t safe
on the nation’s highways,
the papers said.
(originally published in the New York Quarterly #43, Fall 1990)