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Today's poem is by Elton Glaser

Heroic Roses
(Titled after a painting by Paul Klee)

Heroic they'd have to be, the way
I let them struggle.
In this garden, you're on your own.

It's no soap, I tell them,
And no powders, either, nothing
To keep the bugs and blight

Away from the stiff roots, buried
Like a head of startled hair, or off
The new leaves aching upwards to the sun.

Braving the long days, they stand their ground,
Each bud a blood-burst
Of wounded bloom,

Red petals bending back
Until you can see, close inside,
The black heart still beating there—

No, it's a fat bee
Throbbing in the clot, seeking
The deep sweetness of a summer's eve.

No matter how they sway
On those scaly legs, a victim of rickets,
Spindly in the wind,

I never tie them to
Some upright stake; they're always
Free to lash the air.

And when the flowers
Rust and crack, and autumn makes
The limbs more brittle, the leaves turn brown,

Even before I take the blades and cut them
Down to earth,
They use the least breeze

To pierce themselves, dead thorns against the stem,
As if too proud to fall
By any sword except their own.



Copyright © 2002 Elton Glaser All rights reserved
from River Styx 60
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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