Here it comes again,

after shimmering dead all winter,

stretching, flexing, limbering, unleashing

hordes of feather-cut leaves that look

like dragon tongues, a silty river bronze,

before they flatten to assume

their summer-long, grass-emulating green.

Gone in a few days from dry

sticks and frizz to rampant, virid vine,

it fans out an advance guard

of tentacle-tendrils itching with intent

to get a purchase somewhere, anywhere,

by means of those unshowy but efficient

grappling hooks that stud

their wiry length like blunt, vestigial thorns.

It scrambles up and onward

always by spiralling round whatever

stands in its path”drainpipe, porch pillar,

/lawn chair”

but then, once anchored, corkscrews round

itself, amassing braided cables

of self-hugging self-satisfaction,

the conquering hero’s doublejointed

pat on his own back, the unbridled

ego trip impelled by the uppity sap

from deepest root to farthest outflung tip,

ecstatically, imperially

quivering toward its vegetal entelechy.

It’s then I intervene, I unshackle

the captive clothesline post, prune back

that onslaught to a standstill: several times

a summer hacking through worst intrusions,

severity which seems but to encourage

further incursions.

Why not have an end,

enlist some two-handed machine to smite once

and smite no more? It must be that we need

each other, complimentary claimjumpers

locked in contest through the drowsiest

spells of heat, continually rousing

each other to claw back ceded tracts

of still disputed territory.


it’s worth it, too (I say, sweeping up heaps

of stemmy trash), to see how every May

before these rank, voracious leaves

abound, the blossoms burst from the bare wood

(prized by the Chinese for this, and prized by me),

fountaining down in beads of wistful blue

like droplets of spring’s mild sky congealed.