Thursday, August 30, 2018

Jeremy Toombs writes

All over roadside trees, power lines,
the dark green vines
rearing up down back roads like
an elephant, a dinosaur,
alive, present.

It’s this that I am,
what all of us are: alive,
present in any form, like kudzu.

Kudzu was introduced into the southeast United States from East Asia. It was promoted as cattle fodder, a cover plant to stop erosion, and even as an ornamental plant. But kudzu took over to the point it was put on the noxious weed list. Those vines are still around, though, and growing. 

Image result for kudzu paintings 
Kudzu Field -- D.K. Pritchett

1 comment:

  1. Kudzu

    Japan invades. Far Eastern vines
    Run from the clay banks they are

    Supposed to keep from eroding
    Up telephone poles
    Which rear, half out of leafage
    As though they would shriek
    Like things smothered by their own
    Green, mindless, unkillable ghosts
    In Georgia, the legend says
    That you must close your windows

    At night to keep it out of the house
    The glass is tinged with green, even so

    As the tendrils crawl over the fields
    The night the kudzu has
    Your pasture, you sleep like the dead
    Silence has grown Oriental
    And you cannot step upon ground:
    Your leg plunges somewhere
    It should not, it never should be
    Disappears, and waits to be struck

    Anywhere between sole and kneecap:
    For when the kudzu comes

    The snakes do, and weave themselves
    Among its lengthening vines
    Their spade heads resting on leaves
    Growing also, in earthly power
    And the huge circumstance of concealment
    One by one the cows stumble in
    Drooling a hot green froth
    And die, seeing the wood of their stalls

    Strain to break into leaf
    In your closed house, with the vine

    Tapping your window like lightning
    You remember what tactics to use
    In the wrong yellow fog-light of dawn
    You herd them in, the hogs
    Head down in their hairy fat
    The meaty troops, to the pasture
    The leaves of the kudzu quake
    With the serpents' fear, inside

    The meadow ringed with men
    Holding sticks, on the country roads

    The hogs disappear in the leaves
    The sound is intense, subhuman
    Nearly human with purposive rage
    There is no terror
    Sound from the snakes
    No one can see the desperate, futile
    Striking under the leaf heads
    Now and then, the flash of a long

    Living vine, a cold belly
    Leaps up, torn apart, then falls

    Under the tussling surface
    You have won, and wait for frost
    When, at the merest touch
    Of cold, the kudzu turns
    Black, withers inward and dies
    Leaving a mass of brown strings
    Like the wires of a gigantic switchboard
    You open your windows

    With the lightning restored to the sky
    And no leaves rising to bury

    You alive inside your frail house
    And you think, in the opened cold
    Of the surface of things and its terrors
    And of the mistaken, mortal
    Arrogance of the snakes
    As the vines, growing insanely, sent
    Great powers into their bodies
    And the freedom to strike without warning:

    From them, though they killed
    Your cattle, such energy also flowed

    To you from the knee-high meadow
    (It was as though you had
    A green sword twined among
    The veins of your growing right arm--
    Such strength as you would not believe
    If you stood alone in a proper
    Shaved field among your safe cows--):
    Came in through your closed

    Leafy windows and almighty sleep
    And prospered, till rooted out

    --James Dickey


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