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Sharon Kourous


Planting Nitro

Sitting on the nitro wagon,
reins alive
between his fingers,
he ignored horizons:
watched for rocks
or ruts in roads,
attended to the reins,
like nervelines to his heart.

Grandpa planted nitro
against stumps of trees,
and sons inside my grandma.
The stumps blossomed,
slow beautiful dandelions
of concussed air
below the bruised Ohio sky.

His hands, now blueveined,
tremble as he lights his pipe.
Still not looking toward horizons,
rocking on the front porch,
he checks for grandchildren,
the nearer view;
rocks and roadholes
hold his attention,
still fearing a sudden jolt
can shake the straw-packed world.

and slow, beautiful, pure,
blossom below the blue Ohio sky.

Originally appeared in Piedmont Literary Review.



Unintended Consequences

It could have been the pearl sunrise
along the ditched and drained land
where his boyhood sat, throwline taut between
finger and thumb, bobber red and white, silent
waiting for the strike: bluegill or catfish;
the green soybean rows just tipping
flat black land, pushed-back lake.

The glacier's retreat, the swamp;
this prepared day.

It could have been the way the moon one night
caught in an elm branch, or the small unfolding
of capillaries which flushed her skin,
his involuntary hand reaching;

or the long disappointment of mailboxes;

the way year flushed into year, the sky
hazed with Erie's mist, the wind empty;
the fish uncaught in dark pools,
the blank glint of windows holding dawn
and casting evening back against lake's
empty sky,

the drift of time: the yellow drip
of urine on sawdust, the barn in shadow,
weight's slow gyre at rope-twist-end,

the door
slamming in the vacant wind.



Trimming Back

So here I am standing in my yard,
with new electric trimmers,
middle-aged and perplexed;
my desire for order
in a quarrel with my need
for growing things to find
their own green way.

I wonder if the stars and planets
close in upon themselves
in a similar
packing-down distress,
standing in the chaos of the sky?

I wonder if neighborhoods,
revolving inward on themselves
close in like that—
collapse and fall,
like shooting stars?

And if I start these blades,
can I stop?

Will the forsythia bloom
as a box? Will the lilacs
like being cubed?

And I’ll tell you one thing
about that drive-by death downtown:

That silent Burning Bush
is history!

Originally appeared in The Comstock Review.


Sharon Kourous is a poet whose work can be found in print and on the Web.  Print publications include Atlanta Review, Blue Unicorn, The Formalist, and many others.  She retired from teaching this year, and plans to use her new-found freedom to work on her writing.
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