May moon

A June bug thuds against the window
I go out to see if
the moon’s full yet

still flat on one side
but its ring is perfect

I fill my nostrils again & again
with the scent
of dame’s-rocket

stones in the driveway
shine like lost coins

florescent light leaks
from the moonlit house
a brighter shade of pale

the face of someone texting
in a dark concert hall

it’s still only May
in all this long grass
a single cricket

16 Comments


  1. I love this evocation of dislocation by weird lights.

    Dame’s-rocket took me aback. I’d never heard the name before, and I didn’t know that “rocket” could mean “distaff.”

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    1. I think “rocket” is used for some other members of the mustard family, too. You must’ve seen dame’s-rocket when you were in Connecticut — it’s a common road-side weed — but a lot of people confuse it with phlox (which is shorter and has five petals rather than four). The “dame” part is a reference to its odor, which only really starts to come out in the evening, I guess because its main pollinators are moths. Another common name is “lady of the evening.” They are trampy but beautiful, ranging from white to purple. Some are mottled.

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  2. As a some-time nocturnal wanderer in the garden myself, I greatly enjoyed this poem-by-moonlight, with its evocation of shining circles both overhead and underfoot.

    We need some rain here. Yesterday Jack went haring down the drive in pursuit of something-or-another, and he left a rocket-plume of dust behind him out of all proportion to his small size. In the paddocks and orchards the grass is already thigh-high, and it seems to have achieved this in the blink of an eye. The battle to keep it under control… or at least relative control… begins!

    June Bugs in May could be a song title. Get the banjo out Dave!

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    1. Glad you liked this. “Haring”? Another cool word.

      It is amazing how quickly everything springs up. As long as I live, I bet I’ll never stop being surprised by that every year.

      The mayapples don’t ripen until June, either. It’s nuts.

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  3. I like this a lot… short lines work so well for these luminous tableaux.
    so what do they smell like, these dame’s rockets? intrigued now…

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    1. Thanks. Well, gosh, how to describe a smell? “Heavenly” doesn’t tell you much…

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    1. Thanks. Actually I conceived of the whole poem as a kind of short, mutant renga, so I’m glad the haiku likeness was still there for you.

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  4. Hmmm… you weren’t here in the garden of my new/old house a couple of nights ago, were you? The hillside going down to the brook is covered in dame’s-rocket, and my moth sheet attracted more June bugs than moths. They fly to it, then cling to the fabric as though clutching at a pillow, and slowly kick their little legs about.

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  5. “Rocket” used for plants seems to come from a Latin root whereas “rocket” the firework tube seems to have a Germanic origin. I love that about English. Two words that look like one.

    I love the poem, the contrast of the two lights,the cricket. Interesting the reference to Procol Harum. It stopped me for a minute. But the next two lines make clear why it’s there.

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    1. Glad that worked for you. I felt the poem needed some modern imagery, something to distinguish it from its obvious East Asian progenitors.

      I’m still debating whether to keep “ring” or go with “halo.”

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  6. I had no idea what Dame’s Rocket is either, I assumed a plant, but such an interesting word, rocket, in a poem about the moon. I loved the image of someone texting in a concert hall. It works really well here. A lovely piece.

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    1. Thanks, James. Good point about “rocket” — hadn’t thought of that angle.

      Reply

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