Spring 2012

Volume 7, Issue 1



Five Plants




Some gardeners
break out in blisters,
some bite into

you, regret-bitter
between slices of bread.
Your glands ooze

volatile oil. Your boiled
root cures sciatica
& gout. You’re the spade

of card games heartily
repented, Shakespeare’s
herb of grace.  




Greek for courage or
fumigate, your singed
leaves drive bluebottle

flies from castle & hovel.   
Vermifuge, carminative,
you’re everywhere like

God in cough syrup, clam
chowder, Benedictine
bitters, hookworm

cures, in sprigs or
minced on cherry
tomato halves. 




Star differs from star
in splendor, says Saint Paul,
so we don’t plant the body

that will be—only the seed.
Egyptians liked your trunk
for coffins; Cretans carved

wands from your branches,
passed them over afflicted
limbs. Early Christians lined

graves with your sprigs
to speed the final trump,
the eyeblink's change.




Greek hay, Egyptians
use you to disguise
the smell of moldy

fodder, soothe toddlers’
acute sore throats.
Midwives hide your

nutty, maple-celery
taste in peppermint.
Nileside, they steep

your seeds, brew
tea to heal anemic
wives & slaves.




The land to be sown,
flush with peacocks,
semi-wild, lay on hillocks

at Warwick & Hatfield,
terraced ridges in Roman
times. The plow only

traveled one way, cutting
the furrow, & returned
without working. Today

in Britain you grow
in profusion, but
rarely ripen.



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© 2012 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture