Poetry Porch: Poetry


By the Tree of Knowledge

by Julia Budenz 

Diary of Flora Baum: October 25

Diary of Flora Baum: October 26

Diary of Flora Baum: October 29

Diary of Flora Baum: Halloween

Diary of Flora Baum: November 1

Diary of Flora Baum: November 8

Diary of Flora Baum: November 11

Birthday Card: November 24

        From Part Four of the seven parts of Book Five, “By the Tree of Knowledge,” of the poem in five books, “The Gardens of Flora Baum.” 



October 25

Who unfurls sentences? Who hurls the stars?
Will the trees cease to breathe beneath the stars?
Why is the sugar maple sweet with gold?
Why is the honeylocust soft in gold?
I who have opened my mouth beneath the tree
Tasting both good and evil and have known
Neither, known nothing, stand with fruit in hand
And lips apart and stiff and still. And will
I cease to breathe if I must cease to speak?




October 26

Why pose a question from a different year
As though to query from a different star?
Who may with uninfected breath endure
To ask, to tell, to be, what we once were?
Distant, familiar, does the silver moon
Above the golden needles of the pine
Growing reflect as goldenness goes down
How fall is spring and old gold is new green?




October 29

Shall I admit, amidst the bronze and gold,
The world and I are wintry invalids,
Too long too sick, too blind, too early old?

It is yet summer in the golden rose,
Not yet November in the bronzy beech.
Shall I admit this story has been told?

Behold in me the nursling of the good.
Behold the handmaid of the true. Behold
The bride of beauty.

                                        Pink and white, the flower
Dazzles in delicacy. Before the rush
Downward of darkness, in a burst of spring
The mockingbird begins once more to sing.





When my work was play,
When I was dedicating every day,
Devoting every hour,
To the Fragments
Of Vulgar Things, 
I learned the poet’s seven words for arrow.
Out of a land, a world, of plague and war,
Through an amaritude of sweetest rhyme,
Each dart
Became a weapon that went flying
Into the heart.
Must the missiles of metaphor,
Must the arms of art,
Be blunter,
Carriers causes of less anguished crying,
Sources springs of less impassioned sorrow,
Than all these pointed shafts, appointed segments,
Which power
Through this late
Though no less bitter time
Shoots, slings,
In love, in hate,
So as to enter
Being’s center?




November 1 
All Saints

Once we made it
It might have been better
If we had stayed up there
On the calm and cloudless moon.




November 8 
Mundus patet

The library is still open.
On the way some golden ovals are still golden up on the elms
And more lie down on the dark of the grass and of the path
And most have already been banished by the blowers.
I still can open the doors,
And the system is not down, and the shelves are full,
And still
I have rushed once again between this and that leaf
To gobble knowledge, never tasting truth.




November 11

Some golden ghosts keep haunting chosen trees.
Felled multitudes lie dying in the streets.
Hosts blown clash, scatter, under man’s machines
Or nature’s blasts, with siffling or shrill shrieks.




November 24 
Joanna Maria Budenz Gallegos

Not in November’s nebulosity
A sudden spacious space of azure in the sky,

Not in too sudden sundown
The flash of a gold on the Chrysler Building’s spire,

Not lone golds of leaves lingering among the browns 
   of the beech,
Not the last gold of the last gold rose glittering in 
   the darkening park,

Not notes, bass or treble, of excitement
Articulate and intellectual

Within the constant calls of the weeping wind
Crying along long avenues of Manhattan,

Not only this, this, this,
Not only that,

But under dark long lashes
The baby’s big blue gaze,

But on the child who dances
The golden ringlets gleaming, dancing too,

But from the roses of girlish lips sweet laughing
In Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian,

Sweet breathing, babbling, chattering, sweet laughing,
Soft, subtle, sinewed, sensible, in French,

Laughter, language,
Earthy, urban,

That ripples up the streets, above the river,
Into the mists, and lightly over the clouds

Was what the first big sister saw with joy,
Heard with delight and pride.

Not in November’s negativity
Another no was uttered but a new

Unawkward, gracious, golden, blue,
Resilient, smiling, saffron, sapphire oui.


Copyright © 2001 by Julia Budenz.
        From Part Four of the seven parts of Book Five, “By the Tree of Knowledge,” of the poem in five books, “The Gardens of Flora Baum.”