Poem of the Month
The Manly Arts

By Carmine Starnino

Published on May 3, 2016

Most lawns are shit.
People mow too short, mow
one way,
use dull blades, over-water,
never topdress,
grow the wrong grass.
They let their rugrats run
roughshod on shaggy,
dun turf
gouged with dead spots
they’re too lazy
to seed. Shot to hell, yards
and flutter
their hawkweed in the breeze.
I’ve set my jaw
against dodgy husbandry.
My lawn?
A quarter-acre cake
of coiffed
carpet. Barefoot, you float
on tight-bundled
packets of air.
A lawn like this, my friend,
doesn’t come easy.
Weekends, you’ll find me
on my stomach, tweezering weeds.
A man who minds his lot
is a man
you can trust.
He bends to his duty,
turns his hardwrought
fraction of dirt
into perfection’s address.
Today, after my ministrations,
I held my dozing
month-old daughter
and gazed out on my oeuvre,
the just-cut scent,
getting high
on the sense of order it exhaled:
sward pulled tight
and tucked flat as billiard baize:
a plain Canadian yard
made new.

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              So it’s a dreary December, the sun a low ember behind ashen snowfall, when you see him bicycle by.               You know this guy! His paintbrush, you’ve seen it fly as watery blues and greys create a feisty pigeon perched atop a tarnished angel’s head.