All at Once

By Ed Roberson Ed Roberson
Trees have whole streets
                                           of when they were planted
plaqued with when the city is
                                              to inherit them dead
of age almost all at once as if
                                            a natural bombing.
 
 
People see a bill not figured in,
                                                      a blood red
collection come
                   like fall’s leaf    due without fail
an unseen cost of the design:
                               pale bud and yellow blossom—
 
 
though seeming little to do this time
                                       with tense spring
in the window
                                of dead and dying trees’ terms up,
with expecting a life by life replacement—
                     not this plague of life’s time
 
 
as a season across the city.
                                             By trial we do, but don’t
know how death counts the rings
                                                   from trees to clocks,
species to singled soul
                                          at its hour. or on history’s days we all die at once.

Ed Roberson, "All at Once" from To See the Earth Before the End of the World. Copyright © 2010 by Ed Roberson.  Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan University Press, 2010)

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Poet Ed Roberson

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, Death, Time & Brevity, Nature, Spring, Trees & Flowers, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Imagery

Biography

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Roberson studied painting in his youth and was educated at the University of Pittsburgh. His extensive travels inform his work,which is also influenced by spirituals and the blues, and by visual art, such as the mixed-media collages of Romare Bearden. Poet and critic Michael Palmer has called Roberson “one of the most deeply innovative and critically acute voices of our time.”

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Time & Brevity, Nature, Spring, Trees & Flowers, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Imagery

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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