February 2, 2016

Three Poems By Mark Luebbers: "Ars Poetica", "Apiarium", "Walking Stick"

I live with my wife and 2 sons and teach across the Miami river in the suburbs of Cincinnati Ohio. From this very “mid-American” perspective, I try to write with an eye on the convergence of the human and natural worlds, i.e. how nature finds a way of adapting to the changing landscape imposed on it, and how those adaptations (or failures) reflect on our own condition. I’ve published in several journals recently, including Miller’s Pond Poetry Review, Bird’s Thumb, and Blue Line, and have recently attended both the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and The Bread Loaf Conference for Writers of the Environment.

Ars Poetica

Under smeared sun July
hulking in plastic pot
green dusk watered
by crashing gutter washers
the tomato plant manages
to stand hunched on fibrous stalk
holding out spotted leaves
as if in meek plea, but bearing
still some few fruit, round
of a shining yellow.
Each day one or two
small fists of promise
that mostly vanish overnight
plucked by raccoons who leave
black mocking footprint trail
across the deck boards
or dropped by the wind
to the concrete below.
So this one that I manage
to pull from hard stem
and hold small and palm
warm, sour and tough
though it will surely be
is the prize beyond
any keeping past now.


In the preened cul-de-sac, one house built before the rest
keeps a rural semblance. Some paint peels. A swaying small
barn is attached. A bare oak hails from a medium of ripe weeds.

Junes, a cashbox and table stood in the grass streetside,
presenting, undeclared, several jars of candescent honey.
Over the days they disappeared. Some stolen. Some sold.

By July this year there is no table. Instead by the curb
a cardboard square: Sorry Dead Hives. The civil habits
of the vehicles and houses proceed in busy disregard.

What is the margin between communion and collapse?
Our residence is a tight bargain. The pale walls are framed.
There is some manna. There is some contagion.

Every teeming edifice builds its dependent cells, which,
untended, may bring our mingled scourges to full bloom.

Walking Stick

Striated, creased,
scarified and peppered,
along your hardened skin.
Knotted at every joint.
Stiff bent body
held pointed
on tibiae like splinters
Standing stuck along
a wall near to home
in some sumacs and ashes.
Ancient in form
and purpose,
built now only to play
the part of a dry
atrophied past use,
cast down by means
of recent storm.
Swaying in place
as if to an aura,
as if from a palsy,
as if demented, or
as if to focus
your weak eyes
on a welcome shadow.
Near to a ghost
in your single season,
and scarcely there
even in the open.
About to step off
toward some
solace hidden
out of the sun
or stooping wings.
Each movement
as if mocking
an old dance.
~Mark Luebbers

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