A new poem for National Poetry Month
In honor of National Poetry Month, I’m posting one of my poems below. Ideas for poems are everywhere. Most of my ideas come from daily life–like this poem below, “A rice farmer from California.”
Please visit us again this month for more posts about poetry.
A rice farmer from California
calls every few months, talks crops,
farmhands, horses, what he should do
with the rest of his life. When he lived
in Thailand, he tried different careers:
restaurateur, brothel owner, cocaine dealer.
After prison in the U.S., he retired
to 5,000 acres of ducks, rice, and lily pads.
Off-season, he lives on a mountain, writes
poetry, hunts mushrooms and UFOs, dreams
of Enochian angels and earth spirits who bless
his land. One spring, he asks if I can help
his English sheepdog, Boo. “She’s dying.
Infection in her hindquarters. I know she’s old
but she’s all I got.” I ask him questions, get quiet,
feel for the dog’s energy like a colored ribbon
through time. She’s tired, ready to go, worried
for her farmer. I feel the heat of infection, do my work,
tell the farmer, “Sometimes, it’s just time. She says
she’s had a good life. She wants you to prepare.”
Crying, he says “Thanks.” Hangs up.
Calls a week later, “After we talked,
Boo’s rear end opened like the Rio Grande, pus
and infection poured out. Next day, she was fine—
walking, eating. But you were right.
When it’s your time, it’s your time. Three days later,
she got hit by a truck. Walked out in the middle of the road
like she’d never done before, as if she’d planned it.”
He mourned for months. Dreamed she came to him
and he gave her a gift—royal-blue crown to wear in dog heaven.
Said that’s how he wanted to go. Fast. No warning.
And he did. Dropped dead on the threshold
of his bathroom, bladder still full. In his hand,
a tiny sapphire—as if from a ring, or tip of a crown.