Please welcome poet Charles Goodrich, author of a new collection of prose poems called Going to Seed: Dispatches from the Garden. Garrison Keillor is fond of reading his poems on the Writer's Almanac. We're just thrilled that a poet writing about gardening gets attention like this in the wider world!
Much as I love gazing at bumblebees groping a mass of Michaelmas daisies, most of my gardening hours are more like blood sport—slashing weeds, stabbing slugs, inadvertently slicing up worms. You wouldn’t guess it from all the books full of pin-up photos of specimen plant starlets, but isn’t gardening a morally complex, violent and ecstatic wrangling with the earth?
And all the detective work! Trying to try to puzzle out the day’s fresh influx of villains–black spot, blossom-end rot, flea beetles, moles! It’s enough to drive one to poetry, or at least that’s my refuge at the pit-end of the day, with arms scratched and the dirt driven deep under my nails.
Here’s a prose poem: Garden Noir. Read it or watch the video and send us your garden detective stories. Copies of my new book, Going to Seed: Dispatches from the Garden, for the three best yarns.
Damn. The squashes have crossed again. This one is supposed to be an acorn squash, but it looks like a billy club with warts. How far apart do I have to keep these plants? Some vegetables have no shame.
And look at this: tell-tale spots on the tomato leaves. Under my pocket magnifier, pretty yellow rings with dead tissue in the center. Necrosis, caused by who knows what—a virus, a fungus, a mutant pathogen. Probably infectious. Better rip up the whole lot before it spreads to the peppers.
Listen, you’ve got to be tough to grow vegetables. Tough, smart, and a little bit mean. Because plants are headstrong and narcissistic, prey to all the sins of the flesh. They’ll strangle each other when you aren’t looking. Make no mistake—in the quest for food, beauty, and truth, a lot of creatures are going to get hurt.
OK! Your tales of horticultural noir–in exchange for a book! Give it a shot!