Michael Simms – Hatred

Michael Simms LEP&W V2 Dec 2022

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two December 2022.

Michael Simms, poems by Michael Simms.


Out of spilled coffee grounds
and banana slime
beside the compost bin

a gangly vine grew
out of shadow

into slats of light
between the boards
of the deck above.

I hated the way tough thorns
of Rubus drew blood
whenever I passed,

the way a suckering root
held clay and stone
in a thousand fingers

never letting go, choking the softer roots
of elderberry and cherry,
stealing water from roses and sweet shrub

and milkweed that fed the monarch.
This bramble, this briar patch
of demon weed was killing my garden

so I investigated
poisons: Triclopyr kills
dicots, leaving grasses alone

but would kill the roses
and azaleas as well, and maybe
me, but still I was crazed

with hatred for this weed.
I scythed, mowed, axed
hoed, trimmed, yanked

and eyed with vicious intent
this intruder eating my garden.
But the satanic bramble would not die.

Then, in the spring of the fourth year of my war,
the arching canes ventured small white blossoms
whose yellow stamens attracted bees.

And in midsummer, green berries
turned red, then black –
and a tanager perched on the compost bin

feasted on the dark
drupes. The berries tasted sweet,
the hard seeds insistent on my tongue.

I resisted pleasure, then succumbed.


Nothing changed the first year
although I felt the white net
of mycelia spreading

around the roots and the leaves
learning to move through sunlight
and shadow the way I was learning

to move easily through the seasons
because I couldn’t speak. Each October,
the leaves fell, joining

the layer of humus. The wet leaves
froze in the fall, decayed in the spring,
fed the new leaves in March

and all summer crickets sang
and also robins, and in high pines
a crow called. In the third year

I saw a spoonbill fly overhead
forming words out of air but no one listened.
The sapling spread until it filled a corner of the yard

and we had to move the tomato patch
to the sunlight, and later the garlic and parsley.
I was supposed to be baptized

but refused, believing only
the dark and light of the garden.
Each year, Diospyros

filled out, growing lush and tall.
In the sixth year, flowers appeared
then green fruit which yellowed.

We spat the astringent flesh
and placed the basket of fruit in the cellar
to ripen. After a week the persimmons

hard, crisp, and sour as crabapples
darkened, sweet as peaches
dusky as plums, and we ate them

greedily, all but one
I left on the windowsill, an experiment
in sunlight. The last persimmon

was soft, a small black sac
I bit open, and my mute tongue
welcomed dark honey

The persimmon described here is the Diospyros texana, a species indigenous to Texas and northern Mexico which produces a small black fruit similar to a plum. I was raised in a house in Houston with a large garden where I was expected to work every day. I didn’t mind because in the house there was always shouting and hitting while outside I could enjoy the peaceful song of cicada and chickadee, the beauty of azalea and flowering pear, the scent of sage and laurel, and the taste of fig, pecan and persimmon. For me, autism was a gift of silence and solitude. I didn’t speak until the age of five and then only with a heavy speech impediment, so I developed the habit of observing and listening to the natural world.

© Michael Simms

Michael Simms is the founding editor of Vox Populi: A public sphere for poetry, politics and nature. His latest publications are two books of poetry, American Ash and Nightjar, and a novel Bicycles of the Gods: A Divine Comedy released in August 2022.

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