Poems by J. Rodney Karr

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Arguing With a Lover About Love

by J. Rodney Karr

From Canary Fall 2012

J. Rodney lives a ten-minute bike ride from Øresund, the sound that connects the Kattegat Sea with the Baltic Sea.

Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Our words die like forests.
An orangutan holds a chain,
the vine in her memory.
Her child tugs the chain of all
it knows, loving the mother.

She reaches as these do: snail-horn,
snake-tongue, moon reflecting
off the retinas of a tiger’s eyes,
fingers of mist: it’s the longing
but why the longing? The forest

and around us strip mining, machines.
The world leaves us while we watch.
In this tree, fire and chainsaw scars,
a spike, grooves worms have left.
But inside the arch of its half-rotted

heart, a chlorophyll-flushed,
coiled fern tendril reaches up.
There is no other way. We fight
inside what survives. I love you.

Filling In

by J. Rodney Karr

From Canary Summer 2012

Dozens of desperate turtles crossed our yards
escaping suffocation from the bulldozer filling in
what my father called a sump hole and I called

a pond. All summer it was a dump for office waste.
I played with electrical wire a scientific madness.
I smeared tar all over my brand new jeans.

There were trees and thickets before that. One oak
was so large the trunk still stood, branches stripped.
I now sat in the crotch looking out over nothing

as far as I remember. I found a snapper’s shell
split open. Eggs. There was a mother inside
me hoping… for what? I took them home

and set them beneath the pine outside my window.
In the morning they were gone, nothing of what had been,
or of what had come, or of what I had ever hoped to tell.

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