Rogue Russets

By R. T. Smith b. 1947
Surprised by a frill of white flower
where I'd never planted an eye,
I decided to fence it with sticks

and let the renegade live
in undoctored soil where the garden
gave way to volunteer poplars

and acidic white pine. Why not?
After all, away from the tribe,
in clay where beetles drill

and weeds emerge inspired,
it might grow eccentric, proliferate
and thrive.
                When autumn air

said disinter, to fill the bin
for winter, I troweled under
and pulled the stem

until a rabble of rough spuds
red as Etruscan urns emerged
as if to prove

that whatever urge drove
the rogue to sow itself and strive
beyond all cultivation

might offer a vital lesson
to any apostate instinct
aspiring to survive.

Source: Poetry (August 2002).


This poem originally appeared in the August 2002 issue of Poetry magazine

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August 2002
 R. T. Smith


Poet R.T. (Rod) Smith was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Georgia and North Carolina. He earned a BA in philosophy from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and an MA in English from Appalachian State University. His collections of poetry include From the High Dive (1983), The Cardinal Heart (1991), Hunter-Gatherer (1996), Trespasser: Poems (1996), Split the Lark: Selected Poems (1999), Messenger (2001), Brightwood . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Trees & Flowers, Gardening, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Pastoral, Metaphor

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