Saturday, January 28, 2012

Murphy on horticulture

            “…But what baffles me is, how you can live in a place like this-- nothing but dust and desolation,  surrounded by tenements, so far from gardens.”
            Murphy is quick to react.  “Gardens what?  Gardens nothing!  Sure we got ‘em!  We got an urban garden!”
            Her reposeful face carefully registers a puzzled expression.
            “Just look outa the window!  Whaddaya see?”
            She peers.  “No gardens.  No foliage, even.  Just flat asphalt and cracked sidewalks.”
            “Egg-zack-ly!   Cracked sidewalks!  And whaddaya see growin up through the cracks?”
            “Just … weeds….”
            “’Weeds’… Look, I know, you got your garden, got your azaleas, whatever, then these uninvited guys start dropping by, crowding your ‘zaleas out, you call them ‘weeds’.  That’s fine;  I get that.  But when all you got is cracked sidewalks, and asphalt baking in the heat, then whatever can push its funky head up outa that crack, and grow green -- that’s no weed, sister, that’s a miracle.”
            Murphy glared, and stared out the window.  And the blessings he poured down upon those weeds, were like a fierce firehose of love.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

In Praise of Camels

Time was, time was -- and that time is not now -- when any farmer or laborer, for less than the price of  a stack of flapjacks, could buy a deck of smokes that’d do you proud.  You plunk down your two bits, they fork over two packs.  Crisp and fresh from the fields.

And the best of them all, was original, unfiltered Camels -- a unique and brawny blend  of fine domestic and Turkish tobaccos.  You’d carry the pack in the rolled-up sleeve of your T-shirt;  and when the sun was high in the sky, and it was time for a break, you might set down the plow, or find a place to sit on the embankments flanking the tracks, and you’d mop your brow with your bandanna, and knock back a Coke --
and then pull out a smoke.
The wooden lucifer you’d light  with a flick of the fingernail,
and you’d sigh as the flame leapt to life,
then draw it in -- come to me ! --
as you inhaled through the tube of expectant tobacco,
awakening from its long slumber
now alive and alight -- :

and like a dancer   whirling   and twirling her veils,
instantly began to release (sweet relief)
the waves and wafts of sweet frankincense,
that had lain fast in their  caskets of teak,
awaiting the touch of the groom.

And you sigh and give thanks,
sweetly sucking down the golden smoke,
down deep  into the lungs  where it belongs;
then blowing it out  in wreaths of rings,
which float off, expanding, till they rise to the skies,
and delight the choirs of angels.

It doesn’t come like that anymore.
First they stuck on filters, made of, I don’t know, asbestos or something --
something God never intended to touch our lips.
So everyone sickened and died.
Next they started spritzing the growing leaves
with ever-deadlier pesticides,
till it all became a byword for death.

Roasting and toasting,
slowly turning  in Hell,
are the souls of the tobacco-magnates.
Yet sweet and pure   as on the Seventh Day
is the unspoilt blossom
of God’s green earth.
And when He on that Day
shall call Christians from the grave,
then the plowboys and gandy-dancers,
teamsters and counter-jumpers,
wainwrights and boiler-makers,
will rise from the mold,
and ascend like smoke
unto Him.

Gratias agimus tibi, Domine.