Today's poem is by R. T. Smith


On days like this, Roosevelt's whirligigs
reap the wild wind. He calls them "lilies."
From cast-offs and scraps he's fashioned a dozen
by sawing silhouettes and welding axles.
They're huge. Two sows he shaped from barn wood

dip round snouts in a purple trough and twirl.
A woodpecker sleeker than any coon hound
snaps his flame head back and forth with every gust.
Animals and sinners, a granny churning—
Roosevelt loves to show them off. On this hill

he's lived long enough to cuss twelve governors,
made his life from firewood, burley, and corn,
smaller whirligigs he hawks at roadside.
A blush-throat hummingbird's propeller wings
sing. Two farmers shear a black sheep's wool,

and over there beside the rows of Fraser
firs he pampers, a man and black bear take turns,
using mallets to drive a peg that never moves.
He calls it "beauty," the way a gale can find
the patient vanes stalled and drive them to circle

in dervish fury, convert what's rushing
past to brightness as limber flanges flash.
Not a church-prone man, he does love praising.
"Have you raised your Ebenezer?" he asks,
as tin angels swivel and a chimp bows

his fiddle. "This," says Roosevelt, "is labor
put to proper use, a field of lilies
in the spell of whoever oversees the air."
Today the chains and gears scream for oil
inside towers that could pass for drilling rigs,

and the breeze announces a storm, but Rose
won't quit adjusting the yellow petals
he's sweated onto copper stems with solder.
"It's my weather garden. It's my meadow,"
he says, "my crop for better-than-cash. A man

in turmoil could come here to unsuffer."
Guy wires tense, as every pawl and pivot
snaps to action. His flowers mill the wind.
They harvest energy to bestow design.
When I ask if this reeling is a righteous fate,

he points to their orderly frenzy and grins.
"My gigs spook the devil back to his den.
They may not toil, but Lordy how they spin."

Copyright © 2007 R. T. Smith All rights reserved
from Outlaw Style
University of Arkansas Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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