Rescued from the dusty basement, cleaned up and in my drawing studio.
There’s a history to this. In 2009 I began to hang poem cards on a dead tree on E. Passyunk, in South Philly, not far from where I lived. At first, I would find them missing, or torn on the street the next day, but I kept going back with new ones, and strings on can tabs, and ribbons, and decorated the poem cards with glitter, colored them with crayons. After a time, they were left alone. People began to notice, to stop sometimes to read the poems.
In the spring, the city uprooted the dead tree and planted a new one, a living tree. This piece is my memorial to the original poem tree. I wrote a chap book of poems: The Poem Tree. The words to the first poem in the chap book are what you see hanging on the branches. Those large leaves are American Chestnut, from Morris Park–trees that will die soon, long before reaching their climax growth–as all American Chestnuts do since the blight. So in a way–this is also a poem about the loss of The American Chestnut, a tree that was once the Queen of the Eastern Woodlands.
The Dead Tree (a poem)
a dead tree
has died &
I hang some leaves on the dead tree
with fine copper wire
& some aluminum can tabs
& some red plastic rings from my Spirit Stick
& a green ribbon & a single pigeon feather
from my Spirit Stick
(like a bird has come to pay respects & left a
I think the tree feels better
even though it’s dead
I know I would
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