Beneath three feet of snow outside the bedroom window
Three inches below dirt live six-inch night crawlers
my grandson likes to pull and bite. They burst
like a firecracker stuffed inside a watermelon
grown in the dirt night crawlers enrich
burrowing their long, juicy bodies into the soil
the way Steinbeck’s laborers tilled the fields of Salinas.
Replace the sparkplug each year
diligently, like mid-April tax filings.
Fresh gas is imperative
condensation-free like the oratory of Churchill.
Clean oil is translucent
on a machined stainless steel shaft.
Pump seven times to prime the carburetor.
Only nine easy steps remain.
I prefer a shovel
powered by sweat and grunt and brawn
and that good soreness in the evening
when I ease into bed nearly too tired to make love
with my warm lover who sautés vegetables
in just the right amount of olive oil
they slide across the pan like night crawlers
and repeat again and again.
The Water Diviner
A water diviner deems
the witching rod a hoax.
Faith leads to the well.
You veer from the weary path
trodden by tired men who worship convention
muddied by interpretation, bloodied by sermons.
You sidestep rattlers on the rock-strewn ridge
snapping at leather ankles, unleashing venom.
You blaze ahead undeterred.
Even when the earth cracks
open and swallows the timid
who cling to convention
you follow your soul,
the fire that fuels
a mountain spring.
How To Write The Last Line Of A Poem
There’s a cold-water spring
on an unmarked trail in Big Sur
its healing waters hidden
by thicket under a canopy of Torrey Pines
two hundred feet above iron surf
washing fine white sand into the sea.
Nobody has ever sipped
the spring’s hallowed waters
except whiptail and monarch,
neither of which are able to sketch maps
or scribble directions with their tiny digits
and even if they could it’s unlikely
they ever learned proper penmanship
or the dreary rules of formal grammar,
which, of course, is inconsequential to the poet.
I was a street corner vendor, carwash grunt, and labored on warehouse loading docks before I turned eighteen and went to work on the Philadelphia waterfront. Decades later this blue-collar heritage filters into my work as author, poet and Cityscape editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal. I read poetry in and around Philadelphia, and my work has appeared in Everyday Fiction, Fringe, Salon.com, The Moonstone Anthology and other print and online media outlets. My stories have been finalist in competitions at Fish Publishing in County Cork, Ireland, Allegory Magazine, and The Summer Literary Series at Concordia University. I am the author of the memoir Twenty-four Years to Boston. I blog at Poetry In Motion and my website is www.jimbrennansr.com