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Drafty poem-fragments that might come to fruition…

February 27, 2008

“Late Winter”

the fuzz-tipped fingers
of late winter trees
set to bursting. Sprinkled blue pods,
like fish eggs, set to rest
in the palms of furs.
The buffed, dark magnolia leaves,
clasping clenched pearls in their tines.

“The Children’s Hospital”

open-faced, without a portico,
spread eagle to the unhemmed inlet,
always blue and running between oaks and the old
Blockade Runner, capped like a groom-cake
with thick black corners and a bell-hop,
you spent years there.


The closing of the light’s half-year
spilled, split-limbed daisies, strewn
on hot granite between my silhouetted legs.
I’m talking to you.

Turned out and spread
like cottonwood spores,
we are your children’s children:
quadroons, muddled like the
fisted London plane trees,
needles tracing the creased flesh
on a fighter’s body.


There is no brace for the mind
like the ones that held you, Daddy,
pretty baby, with dark, coal eyes
and puffed, suckling cheeks.

Your legs, no longer than a forearm,
trellised with metal to leather booties,
your feet unable to swing in time
with your gurgling mouth.

“The Crooked Spoon”

One remaining piece of pewter we called
your “crooked spoon.” Delicately trellised
with flowers along the tapered handle,
and bearing your G.M.R. where the thumb
might press. We thought it beautiful, fighting
over who was to dip it into applesauce.
The beauty lay in the curiosity,
the head that bent startlingly leftward,
forcing your right hand to work, to use its
crippled body in scooping yellow grits
and church peas. Turning it over as your
grown child, my heart aches to hear for you
the echoes of reprimand and correction.

John Hamlen Blackwell

Father would go hunting in the spring,
bringing Mother bluebells, and a bird.
He would take grouse, quail, or ducks,
but felt more at ease cutting down one
that couldn’t sustain flight. The turkey,
earthen ugly cousin of the peacock,
could be drawn to the open, leaving
impressions of three clustered fingers
for every foot in the dirt. Head pinched
out of clay as an afterthought, glazed blue,
bearded and wearing a blood-red neck-tie. Up close
the birds were not so plain as they appeared.

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