Thursday, April 15, 2010


I’m frowning.
The clay clings to the shovel;
I have to keep scraping it off because
otherwise all it does is cling more and
then it cakes up and then I really
get frustrated. I keep stopping to
scrape and soon my hands and feet are
coated in dirt, the blacks of top soil and
the dark browns of something called
composted cow manure and the
billions of atoms of peat moss covering
me and sticking to the dirt smears on
my jeans and t-shirt. As soon as I wipe
sweat from my face I know I’ve smeared
dirt there too because I can taste it.

I push the shovel down into black dirt
then through a mix of blacks and grays
and finally the tan of solid hard-packed
Missouri clay that is soft and pliable as iron.
Digging in clay is like digging in a tan
brick, a chip here and there but generally
just forget it. But the hole is now deep
enough and filled with enough good
stuff to get this rosebush off to a fair
start, this bush that will produce a flower
named Janet of pinks and ivories and
perhaps salmon. Three feet away sits
another rose, this one named
Christopher Marlowe like that friend of
Will and it writes Renaissance plays while
it waits patiently for its hole too.

All I
to do
is dig
and a

Nancy Rosback, Lord High Executioner of the Cunning Poet Society, provided the poetry prompt for April to all of us cunning poets. The prompt was to write a poem based on the first thing that came to mind when you heard the word “Dig.” Since I had five rosebushes, a lilac and a dozen perennials waiting to be planted, I knew what I had to write.

The Cunning Poet Society was founded by Nancy on Facebook. Our motto is "I'd rather be a cunning poet than a dead poet."


Anonymous said...

The mess of digging creates the beauty of the rose.

Unknown said...

Dig your poem...LOL, probably not a great poetic response but I did enjoy yours!

God Bless!

David Rupert said...

There ought to be extra credit for using the word "manure" in a poem!

Kathleen Overby said...

Hope you had your shit kickin' boots on and a red bandito bandana around your neck. Sounds painful gardening in Missouri? :) You sure painted a sweaty picture and I heard the grunts and groans from here.

Louise Gallagher said...

Dig it! Very cunning.

Just so you know -- our earth is too frozen still to dig...

S. Etole said...

my mother referred to "it" as barnyard gold ... doesn't that help you feel better ... to know you were working with gold???

Anonymous said...


oh, you are good.

the dirt
the names of roses
the digging

our motto :-) yea!

Jeff Jordan said...

This past weekend I tried to transplant a couple of rose bushes for my wife...not pretty. I was wearing shorts and my legs look like I got in fight with barbed wire. We just put a few scoops of cow manure on our garden and I spread some around the grapes we just planted. My neighbors love it when the wind blows just right...smells like the country.

Hopefully all my holes are "dug" for this year...getting back to your poem, I really like it, but I would have to integrate a sweetened ice tea break into the digging and smearing and such:)

Billy Coffey said...

I wish I could write half as good as you, Glynn. This is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I loves me some MO clay! I live in Clay county. I don't know if it's named for a guy named Clay, or the dirt.

Anonymous said...

i thought of an association to this for so many things. Sometimes try as you may it just gets harder & harder and no matter what you do you cant make it go away!!! Well done really enjoyed that Pete

caryjo said...

Been transplanting, digging, weeding -- ALREADY -- a month ahead of the usual time. Loved your detailed description... worth a big grin. Hope you thoroughly enjoy the results -- the lovely roses and other flowers.

Michelle DeRusha said...

I really like this one, Glynn. Probably because the boys and I have been spending a lot of time in the dirt these days -- literal and physical!

Sandra Heska King said...

This is great. I can't even bring myself to dig itty bitty holes for the iris bulbs my dad sent special delivery 2 weeks ago. Maybe 3.

moondustwriter said...

Been there...
Love the feel of dirt in my hands even on my face - there's a oneness with my beginning
Love the post