A Gentle Lamp Turned On

Well, many of you already know that we Swaits are moving to Greer, SC, on June 8. Below are the poems of Florida I've written over the past couple of years; they have all been seen at one time or another on this blog.

Lantana, Afternoon and Night

The brand-new feeder has become the regular lunch
For what the wife now calls the polygamist cardinal
With his two dun females. And this bunch

Of lantana today attracted a handspan-sized
Yellow and black with blue dots butterfly,
Which floated as the baby pointed outside

Through the sliding glass doors to this spot.
Which easily as I write sets the stage tonight:
The end of southern summer, heavy but not hot,

A low red moon; a slow creaking fan,
Me rocking in the chair, radio's on
A new album, listening to a Florida band.

Across the River To Another Life

In the watery offshoots of the Suwannee
The river-trees debate.
Is it nobler in the mind
(If you must fall
And be in clear shallow waters
Sticking out a bit):
Is it better for three turtles
To sun on you in a neat line
As carp swim by,
Or would you a tree rather
Be moss covered in the shade,
One single yellow flower up
And alive in your hollowed-out barque?

For Diverse Beauties

If you sit by broad slow-moving waters,
If you are as calm as the writer of the twenty-third psalm,
Or as firm as the writer of the first:
You wi­ll notice the stippling of clouded sunlight
Is improved when one water
Eddies off on a side project.

A Little Room

The glory of a desert sky at night
Is open road,
And if a man looks up from any ravine
Near El Paso, its stone walls
Will be nothing
To the vault of wide open space above,
And each star seen is another world of sky.
It is for its sky
That the desert is home to wandering men.

If you are tired one night,
If you would rest,
Stand in the grass of a southern savannah.
You will find it a little room with cloudy walls.
Perhaps a star will peek in at you
Through a cirrus window,
And if the clouds be place higher than the moon,
A gentle lamp will be turned on.

Florida Freeway

When we hit the Indiantown exit going south,
heat lightning out to sea.

A City Tree Is An Elegant Tree

There’s elegance in a small pale tree
That grows from its specially selected
Department of Urban Development site,
With a half-foot trunk growing
Through a grate peculiarly designed for it.
This is especially true if it tops out
Just below the artificial heaven
Of a parapet on a second floor.
Such a tree displays latent bonsaism,
And its middle trunk will show the earholes
Left by long-gone limbs.
But its top branches will be like a spinster aunt’s hair,
Sticking out a little wild,
But not presuming to take up too much space.
The trimmers will not need to visit a tree like that very often,
Because it is an elegant, graceful tree,
And elegance is content in her station.