Poems by Ken Poyner

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Planting a Garden

by Ken Poyner

From Canary Spring 2013

Ken and his wife live in a forest of town homes, surrounded by a marcher land of track residences, all held back only by the Naval Base and the terror of the sea.   All of this drains through the Lynnhaven-Poquoson watershed - part of the superlative Chesapeake Bay watershed -- to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

The farmhouse is eaten with kudzu
And no breakfast will come from its kitchen.
The barn has only three sides,
And but half a roof.  I am not impressed.
The ghosts of old families
Do better with this land
Than would a live family living with their
Sixteen dollar hair cuts and free
Cell phones.  I can see
The shadow harvest laid out still
Geometrically perfect in the field.
I am looking for a fence.
In a place like this an ordinary girl
And I could fall in love:  any other girl
Would be too far away.  Our courtship
Would be penned in by time and technology,
Our love a product of what you can do
With this land and the implements
That, in that era, existed to work it.
I can imagine the pale
Understanding of paddock etiquette,
The emotional acceptance of the mechanical:
The flat practical shaping of our days;
And life always a Sunday off,
A market away, wicked with weather,
And in the exchange but a cartoon
Drawn by people who can afford transgressions.
I want those ghosts.
I want my alternatives to be few.
I am not so much
But I am here:
And the abandoned door comes off its hinges
When I apply my full want of sin against it,
With the last of the floor boards breaking to welcome me.
Oh dear broken down brethren,
I am home.




The Martian Bureau of Forestry

by Ken Poyner

From Canary Summer 2013

This is the easiest job on this planet:
Each day I put on my suit,
Emerge from our communal hole in the ground,
And watch the thin air play tennis
With the dust. I annotate that, today,
Nothing will grow here. I will check again tomorrow.
I go back to my warren, collect
Each month my salary of support-staff company credits.
I listen to our cheaper labor tunneling smooth hollows
Of what some celebrated day will be our arboretum.
I calculate Martian years to Earth years
To determine when I will be eligible for my pension.




The Natural Order

by Ken Poyner

From Canary Fall 2013

The rain intended to fall just there.
All day it has been planning to fall
Along that edge, in that puddle, across
That front lawn. The key to the rain
Is in its wanting to fall just where
It is falling, meeting its original proposal,
Completing its day’s plan. For hours
It has driven the clouds, selected
Resilient winds, checked its notes
And plotted topographies. It takes
Great skill, yet the rain is never wrong,
It has never fallen where it does not want to:
All of its missions end in success.
After each precipitation event
The rain is satisfied. You,
You in the drenched shirt and ruined
Pants, hair matted flat to your forehead,
Should see joy in the perfection,
The happy march of fulfilled rain storms,
Stretching centuries long, simple storms achieved.
What could your anger, random and
Randomness, say to such schemes of joy?




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