30 Days of Poetry – Karen Rile’s April Poem-a-Day Project



Last autumn’s pumpkin
shriveled in the April sun–
nobody sees it.       April 1

Fetch, Late March

The turban squash that rested on the window ledge
lies shattered on the flagstone
like an eggshell. Winter made it hollow.

A squirrel’s nest blown down by the wind.
A fox skeleton behind the woodpile.
The dog returns with her prize,
fetched beneath leaf-litter,
still hers, after these long months.

She pauses in the sunlight,
the mind-stabbing light.
Around us birdsong rises.
The tennis ball rolls to my feet,
wet and familiar. I toss it away lightly,
like sorrow. And here it is again,
and again.      April 2

A gang of grackles
swoop down on the bird-feeder
scattering the squirrels.     April 3

Chubby spring spider
skitters beneath the doormat–
I’ll overlook it.      April 4

The windstorm’s victim
tossed by the side of the road
is starting to bud.      April 5

Oh, forsythia!
You set a good example
for this dull back yard.      April 6

Rain is general
over Philadelphia.
My soul swoons slowly.      April 7

The smeary window–
The miles of tufted phragmites–
the yellowed skyline–      April 8

Deep in Central Park–
this scruffy azalea wears
a pink boutonnière.       April 9

A chainsaw buzzes
somewhere beyond the treeline.
My tulips tremble.      April 10

Fresh-faced narcissus,
oh jaunty yellow soldier,
watch out for puddles.      April 11

my back garden’s awash in
ten-minute jewels.      April 12

To The Boy Who Smashed My April Pumpkin

The out-of-season pumpkin is a grace,
an unmerited favor, a golden orb bestowed by gods
beneath the Highland Avenue railroad bridge.
Long after you’ve forgotten that night,
the bridge, the scent of marijuana, laughter,
and the feeling of youth in your shoulders
your hands will remember the April pumpkin,
mysterious and cool to touch,
the size and shape of a baby’s head.

May your life be more difficult from this moment forward.
(Difficulty is also a grace.)
May your nose sprout a pimple the morning of prom.
May your date dump you.
May you mess up the tenor sax solo
and embarass your parents in front of the whole school.
I hope your mom becomes a vegan.
I hope she cooks nothing but squash for a month.
You’ll fart aloud in the middle of assembly.
And everyone will know that it was you.

May you stay up all night studying and still get a B.
May you be deferred from Dartmouth.
And rejected from Tufts.
May you be scared to admit you’re afraid of the cockroaches
in your dorm at NYU.

May you fall in love and may she jilt you.
May you stand alone in the crowd at Washington Square
with the spring sun burning your scalp,
wondering if you will ever again feel joy.

May your only child turn out to be a daughter.
May you feel her receding from your arms,
her small, specific, fragranced weight,
when her mother explains that she is leaving you.
(Loss is a grace.)

I hope you remember the splash of seeds upon the ground.

May you leave your job at the hedge fund
to become a buddhist monk, a jesuit,– no,
a poet.
I hope you sell your sestinas to highfalutin journals no one reads
for a hundred bucks a pop.
I hope you become an adjunct professor of poetry
teaching pumpkin-smashing punks to love Nikki Giovanni .
I hope you have to worry about health insurance
and how to make the rent.
(Poverty is a grace.)

And who will pay for your daughter’s ice-skating lessons?

I hope you realize at fifty
that you were not as smart as you had previously believed.
On your birthday, your daughter will fly back East to visit you
and take you out to lunch
and make a small speech.
She’s sorry for all the years she wouldn’t speak to you

but that’s over now, and she’ll pick up the tab.
And the two of you will go for a long walk in the old neighborhood,
to admire all the daffodils and azaleas, as if winter never happened.
As you pass beneath the railroad bridge near Highland Station,
something in your memory will shift
and the path will burst out before you, as easy now as grace. Arm in arm
with the only child of your life,
may you again feel joy.      April 13

Taxophone medley:
my head is full of numbers,
my fingers tapping.    April 14

At the bus shelter,
behind a curtain of rain:
red haired girl, white boots.    April 15

As brutal as brief,
the April snow has melted.
My daffodils sag.    April 16

A squirrel skeleton
amid the springtime riot–
just some fur and bone.    April 17

Good Friday, trash day:
the neighbors’ secrets tumble
out onto the curb.    April 18

to the squirrels and the skies–
oh cheery blossom.    April 19

The hare limp’d trembling–
he laid his sugared jewels
in cellophane grass.     April 20

The Callery Pear:
it looks like a wedding gown
but smells like old fish.    April 21

The cunning pansies
raise their small, vulpine faces
to the passersby.    April 22

What windfall is this?
Light as a fairy’s teacup,
the lovely blue shards.     April 23

greasy magnolia petals
smearing the sidewalk.     April 24

squirrels’ nests in the still-bare trees
against the bright sky.     April 25

Tulip mania.
O splendid concuspicence,
O vibrant desire.     April 26

The concrete rabbit,
waiting among the bluebells
for eternity.     April 27

In the evening mail,
tucked between some envelopes,
one small green spider.     April 28

Rainy day, mid-spring:
should you step into a puddle
deep as this question?    April 29

“Between the raindrops”–
that’s how he told me to run.
I arrived, dripping.    April 30