The Poetry Porch


By the Tree of Knowledge, Part One, Section Five
by Julia Budenz


May 15

Patient: I do not know what the prognostication is.
Doctor: The prognosis.

Am I not only words, yes, only words,
And not not only words but also something,
But words alone, since not is positive?

How can I then be Mrs. Malaprop?
Ms. Malaprog is what I am. I am
Miss Malaprognos. Must I miss or mix?

Prognosis glints of science, medicine,
Pure Greek, Hippocrates or Aristotle,
Newtonian. Hypotheses non fingo.

Prognostication hints at hybrid, hiss,
Hick, hit or miss, religion, divination,
Part Greek, part Latin. Fingo. Am I fiction?

Flora Urania Baum will I remain,
Linguistic mix upon a triple tongue,
True not to bloom, sky, tree, but to the song?




May 23

But I, or rather my originator,
Must gasp aghast at maladies past language,
My origin and my original,
For she not only speaks but acts and is.
She is, for instance, the Miss Maladrop,
And in the instant of each instillation
Being is doing, doing is misdone.
Not only falsely filling syllables
But also, hitting ill as she instills
Little things, missing that big thing, that eye,
She must soon lie there not just dumb but blind.

Is only death more terrible than life?
Evidence is not requisite for proof.
Is only life more terrible than death?
Evidence is not necessary if
A tiny taste of knowledge yields enough.

Do purgatories open onto hells?
I grope through speech and deed and hope. I stop.
All things are not mistakes, debts, viruses.
Not all is killing. Not all is unkind.
The shield of seven hides gleams bronze on top.
Glancing from his grim countenance he smiles.
Thorns wound. The pink sweet scent healsor consoles.
Strata of grand and petty build to one.
Not only does Jove thunder. Rain distills
A glisten through those smooth blue irises
And soon a blue reopens through the sky.




May 25

Of things that were not whites or golds
Many, if not true blue
(Is there a tune of truth for things and words,
A tone of truth for nouns and adjectives?),
Were parity and purity
Of plumes of purple.




June 13

Gray as cosmic coloration.

So much rain.
So much hating of the rain.
So much loving.

Like lovings pure and passionate
Great white clusters in bloom
Pendent and unfallen and unfalling

Among the great green skies of the virgilia
Under the greater fostering skies of gray
And the fostering fall of the rain.

The softly indigo iris standing strong
And soft and softly
Embracing rain, by rain embraced.

So many raindrops.
So many graves.
So many new graves dropped below the rain.

So many rosebuds red as lovely
Little kisses kissed by raindrops.
Above the grave the rosetree with its blossoms

Osculated into gold.




June 15

Staring at the tulip tree
I quaff its cups of sun.
If I drink only with my sight
Will I be filled with light and light
And will my chalice run
Over? Is knowledge pledged to me?



From Book Five, “By the Tree of Knowledge,” of “The Gardens of Flora Baum”

Copyright © 2003 by Julia Budenz

“The Gardens of Flora Baum” has five books 

Book Five has seven parts

Book Five, Part One, has five sections

Book Five, Part One, Section Five, has five pieces