Ode to Ragweed
Ragweed, you have turned my sinuses into 1-40 Westbound
on a Friday afternoon.
You have morphed my song into early Bob Dylan.
You have changed my cash into crumpled tissues and Benadryl.
You have bankrolled my doctor’s kids through Duke, through Vanderbilt.
You wave your green handkerchief and I
bow and cough my forced tribute.
You have raised Knoxville to Number Three on the allergy hit parade!
Ragweed, you are queen of a humid kingdom and you
have created a hamlet of snot––to breathe
or not to breathe––
Poets need air, Ragweed! We beseech you:
carry your pollen out to sea!
Let salt be your Muhammad Ali,
the blow that sends you
down for the count,
Ode to My Lost Glove
(January 23, 2019)
Forgive me, supple one,
I was too jittery
about reading poetry
to check my pockets.
Must have dropped you
darting to the Tennessee Theater.
What kind of beast
measures its life in pricey
I pray icy fingers find you.
Today the overflow-homeless are sheltering
in Knoxville city buses.
I know mine is a First-World
Problem. I’ll vow
to be more careful,
more like Jane Hirshfield––
to cradle each object tenderly,
Remember paltry wages
at the Gimbel’s scarf-and-glove counter?
Sang “Mr. Tambourine Man” on the A train,
echoing in tunnels.
Promised self I would stay in academia.
Stayed, and now I’m ranting for my city.
Treat each object like Neruda,
penning an ode against exile.
Treat every man better than
your first husband.
This one’s a keeper.
Swear to lose less, or if you must lose,
Forgive me, husband,
for treating cash
off-handedly, as if I were Wilbur Ross
on a bad press day.
My new gloves from Bloomies boast
they were “hand-made,
in China.” Forgive me, underpaid hands.
Thank you again, noble Bobby D,
for twanging me
I held onto your ballad
as I rode the friendless subway,
as I watched a teenager
stuff a scarf from my counter
into her bra.
1968, I sold lace handkerchiefs
under the cold eye
of my supervisor, Miss Friburg.
it’s a tissue world.
My little Buddha-glove
may be curled on the concrete floor
of the Locust Street Parking Lot,
thumbing a ride
with karma, sorry
its fist refused charity.
Lost chance, let my hands
become more giving.
may you be found by
some shivering soul
buttery lobbies humming.