A Poem by Laura Washburn

Mr. Redbud
Mr. Redbud, I’m not sure how 
well you can hear me anymore.
You’re the moon through a telescope.
I’d like to hang a plastic Easter
egg on each one of your limbs.
Oh Mr. Redbud, wait, wait,
and now you bud.  To hell
with the rain, and to hell with your roots;
everything’s going to be okay.

Helloooo, Helloooo, Mr. Gravity,
are you there?  I wanted to tell you
about the buzzards out at the farm.
They almost live on the pole out
by the old cellar.  You could dive
in there during a storm, grab hard
to the ground and hang on.

Dear Mr. Red Dirt, you have ruined
the white canvas shirt, the one
with the chainsaw grease on the sleeve.
I fear putting it in the washer 
with anything but jeans.  Also,
you’ve eaten away the rubber soles
of my best go-to-hike boots,
though, I admit, burrs 
stuck pretty bad in their thick laces.
I request restitution forthwith.

Oh, Grasshopper, how you hop
so fast into morning.  Coffee
and laundry, the clean dishes,
maybe a poem.  Oh Grasshopper,
when will you ever learn?
You took those ants too much to heart.
The freezers are full.  Winter
is nearly over.  Sing or snore,
come ‘a rain come ‘a rain come ‘a kinebo
kinebo sinebo karo saro
rattletrap pennywinkle popadoodle yellowbug 
come ‘a rain come ‘a rain come ‘a kinebo,
and stretch your lean limbs slow,
hug the big trunk of a foreign tree,
have piccolo gelato, afternoon espresso
when you need to wake up.
The raked leaves will wait for tomorrow 
or for the good and neighborly wind.

At last, Mr. Bigmouth
Bass, remember the time
we bobbed on our toes,
took stride against the current,
and rode the breakers into shore?
We’ve been king of the sea,
king of the pond and the shore.
Oh Mr. Bigmouth, let’s play
with the line and the pole,
let’s eat plates decorous
as ballrooms, one course
after the next, bubbles 
for me, martini straight up
with olives, of course, for you.

Come on, Mr. Coldbones, 
let’s all go to bed.
I’ve got the black kitty 
that sleeps on your feet.
Come on, Mr. Coldbones,
let’s all go to sleep.
I’ve got the black kitty,
     and that’s all that she said.
     If you want to hear more, 
     you can sing it yourself.

This poem will appear in our Editor-in-Chief’s new collection, The Book of Stolen Images (Meadowlark Books, 2023).

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso ReviewHarbor Review’s chapbook prize is named in her honor. The Book of Stolen Images is in the publisher’s hands today and can be purchased from Meadowlark Books.


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