—In response to Childe Hassam’s “Twenty-Six of June, Old Lyme.”  1912

When the peonies bloom I will revel
in their elegance and wear my Chinese silks
light and free.  When the peonies bloom
I will fill all the vases with them
so their scent permeates every room
delighting you and me.  When the peonies
bloom, we will know winter is over
along with its darkening gloom.

Ah, the great day that it is, the day
the peonies bloom.



This poem is also a product of August Postcard Poetry.  I’m posting it this second day of March with snow falling steadily the past two days making me feel as if I live in a snow globe being constantly shaken.  In some areas it is too warm for the snow to amount to much, at higher elevations it’s getting deeper.  This time of year putting on several layers of clothing, the lightness of wearing Chinese silks only is a long way off.

Benjamin Carl Cary

We can still sit at Carl’s table,
that table with great stout legs
beautifully turned meeting
heavy planking—
floorboards from a cannery
in Craig, Alaska.
Michael Strong built the table
33″ x 73″
with gentle curves gracing the ends.
You could dance upon this table
a cancan or a Tango.
Smooth to touch, the honeyed wood
draws you to it.

We can still sit at Carl’s table,
this is where
he wrote: poetry
letters to friends
worked crossword puzzles
paid his bills
mesmerized guests as he would
stride about in heavy boots
a drink cupped in his hand
curled in close to his chest.
He might sing an aria
recite lines of poetry
or plays he performed in,
animated, telling stories
the timbre of his voice
like him.

The table always had a vase
of fresh cut flowers, candles too,
books and papers in drifts.
I remember small black and white
photographs spread out there one day,
images of his youth,
those early years on San Juan Island.
The table supported all that and more:
his hand slapping down on it
punctuating his raucous laugh.

Seated there he ordered the seeds
and bulbs and shrubs for his gardens:
the tulips, gladiolus, iris and daffodils,
the azaleas, rhododendrons,
the calendula he loved
celebrated in one of his poems:
Impromptu #8,
“I fill the jars with orange calendula.”

We can still sit at Carl’s table
and until it is carried away
by strangers, it will always be
Carl’s table
one of a kind
his leit motif.

In remembrance of Carl, March 22, 1929 – May 1, 1992. We were in the play “The Dining Room” together, and Carl was always entertaining on stage or off.  He had an amazing art collection of Northwest greats, and a collection of Native American baskets.  He also loved his gardens, and I will never forget his 21st Street house in Bellingham when all of his tulips were in bloom.  This poem was published in “Talk” many years back.



Lathyrus Odoratus

to grow sweet peas
is to plan
preparing the bed
sowing the seed
stringing up net
or twine for vines
to grow sweet peas
is to think ahead
and lust
for a sweet scent
and delicate
if ever you receive
a bouquet
of sweet peas
thank the giver
from the bottom
of your heart
for certainly
they have borne
to you
a precious

This poem was originally published in my chapbook “Talk” and expresses how I feel about receiving a bouquet of these exquisite flowers.   If you grow them and need to get rid of some I have plenty of vases to put them in.