Published by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Support Us

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Facebook

Poet Kevin Stein on Changing the Course of the Environmental Nightmare

Listen above or download the mp3 file. Running time: 13 minutes, 11 seconds.

Poet Kevin Stein recites his poem, “Mowing the Lawn,” and talks with Zachary Sussman about summertime, politics, and the global repercussions of our everyday lives.

Mowing the Lawn

Putt putt, I ride on fossil fuel, the juice of fern and leaf,

the muck of once-was. Putt putt, I warm our globe

one green acre at a time. As a boy, I mowed without gas power

as does my buddy Dean: Green Dean. Back then as now
it was economics not ecology. Have you priced a hybrid?

I pushed, I sweated, I earned a man’s allowance,

not unlike Tag, the bow-legged Japanese gardener

who plucked the lawn's eyebrows for my grandmother,

she of blue hair and lace gladiolas terraced along

the terra cotta porch. She of the voice that curdled milk.

Tuesdays he made landfall, hurricane of shears and clippers,

toting the lone mower he’d not so much push as chase.

Tag had no time for lost time, though just to be sure

the war-time feds interned him to save us from the Japs

he wasn't. The Republic’s no match for paranoia.

Once, chasing the wiffle ball of my World Series,

I spilled over Tag yanking weeds beside the arched porch

trellised with trumpet creeper and the strumming

of hummingbird wings, thrum of this world,

his knees keeping the porch safe for democracy.

That good man sang foreign to me and I got scared --

as kids will. But I didn’t care -- as kid’s won’t,

I please wanted my ball please, which he found

amidst a clutch of dandelions he’d turn to wine.

Come winter he sipped the bittersweet of our fear.

image of author