Chicano Poet

Monday, May 12, 2008

Teddy Bear

I let Theodore Roethke loose at the zoo,
but he cowered in the botanical gardens.

I think it was Berryman who said
Roethke preferred plants to man.

He fussed over roses.
Thorns he relished as well as relish.

Hell, he even caressed pinto beans.
He didn’t give a hoot if young men died in wars.

Yet harm not a marigold or ripe tomato
because his anger was not a vegetable then.

He cared for lentils and for leaves.
But man was just a fertilizer in his book.

My favorite Roethke poem:

The Geranium

When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,
Or a wizened aster in late September,
I brought her back in again
For a new routine--
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she'd lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)

The things she endured!--
The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or the two of us, alone, both seedy,
Me breathing booze at her,
She leaning out of her pot toward the window.

Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me--
And that was scary--
So when that snuffling cretin of a maid
Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
I said nothing.

But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
I was that lonely.


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