Poems by M.P. Jones

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My Father, the Arborist

by M.P. Jones

From Canary Summer 2013

M.P. lives in Gainesville, Florida's urban Possum Creek watershed, where he works, writes, and raises backyard chickens.

My father never liked
cutting the old ones down,
but there was always some
century-old Water Oak
threatening the new renovations
on the quad or cracking
a fresh concrete foundation.

He took me out summers
and let the humid air wick away
any desire to follow his footsteps.

My father never let me touch a saw,
as if to keep the blood from my hands,
but he let me watch, and I learned

there is a note a tree makes
when the chainsaw pierces the last ringlet,
chewing the marrow of loamy heartwood—

the sound of letting go, and
sometimes the great trunk turns,
waving branches & crashes to earth,
making a sound it cannot hear.

My father was not an evil man; he was
like other men, just trying to get by.

He looked up at me from the stump
where he knelt, mumbled
                            if I don’t,
                                someone will

Forthcoming in the author's book, Live at Lethe (Sweatshop Publications, 2013)

One-Man Renga in Late June, Lee County

by M.P. Jones

From Canary Summer 2015

Outside, thunder boasts
an impotent rain. Who stood
amongst strawbriars

with shadows growing long and
the day smooth in its lateness?

Why ask with words what
this world is for? Recalling
the winter we left

the oven on to keep warm,
fed our bills into the mouth

of a woodstove, one
by one, watching them tremble
and darken, then burst.

It is I who have walked
through overgrown paspalum

in air so thick that
each breath filled me with dark dreams
of mossy water.

All the way up the path home,
twisted as those ruined hallways

where the dead open
like blue doors in the forest,
amber knobs you fear

turning. Past the garden gate,
with night falling everywhere

where we stood, screaming,
when it was all we could do
just to draw some heat

between us, after late shifts,
driving home in dark flurries.

At the high hilltop,
the bees have not disappeared
from the possumhaw.

Why do we ask with words when
the air is thick with their song?

Forthcoming in the author's collection Reflections on the Dark Water, spring 2016.

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