Jul/Aug 2007 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Bob Bradshaw

Photography by Kawika Chetron

The Darker Secrets of Gardening

Rumors had spread:
the old lady's fifth husband was missing.

In her back yard, orchids
levitated over our fences like steam. Irish moss
covered the backs
of skull-sized stones. Bougainvillea
fluttered like flames
licking their way
across strung trellises.
What was she putting
in her soil?

We discerned though the squalls
of purple flowers, between the snowdrifts
of geranium blooms, between
the hummingbirds flying
like poison darts,

patches of yard much greener
than the rest of her garden.

She could teach us a trick or two, we joked.
Weren't our husbands always under our feet?

She admitted to burying
three parrots and a cocker spaniel
in her backyard. But

of course the old lady
was as tame as her tabby.

Still, we were intrigued. What was nourishing
her soil? We urged our old neighbor
to divulge her secrets.
Have some mercy, we pleaded.
Our yards are mere scabs
we keep picking

"Well, to be honest," she whispered.

"The biggest problem is the sun.
Overexposure: love, plants, relationships.
It kills everything.

The secret to gardening is
replenishing the soil. My advice?

Dig at night."


In Cezanne's Pyramid of Skulls

the dead just are: they are done
with squalls, politics,

Apples and jugs may squat
on tables out of view,
but here there is no loaf
of bread. No vase of geraniums.
No glass of wine.

There are only the four skulls
staring emptily at you,
as if you were a photographer
capturing a family picture.

Christ does not levitate
amid the brush strokes. There is no open
prayer book. Each skull
is as solid as a peach

or a crop of rock. There
is nothing the observer
can do. As Cezanne would say,
everything has been



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