Guest post: green poem

Authors: vanessa german

today i met with a guy named andrew butcher

he co-founded an organization called g tech-

they plant sun flowers in the hood

to draw the hard metals out of ground

where once houses stood; chimneys and walls

and kitchen sinks and copper pipes and dreams

folded unceremoniously into the hard brown earth

buried and rocky, shards of living room walls and front porch pillars

in the ground like crooked elbows jutting hard and awkward

out of the patchy baby grass, warning all who pass:

that this land will bear no fruit.

and it helps that sun flowers are pretty

that their broad miraculous faces rise like tidy

individual suns glowing over the crooked trash laden streets

shining among the concrete ruins of old houses and half torn down bodegas

golden in their unrelenting magnificence

offering us promise on our way to the bus stop

giving the elementary school kids something other than the rims

onapassing bass blasting status symbol to ogle over

ohhhh they say… this one is mine… this is my favorite one

staking their claim amidst the flowers.

the other day i heard a little boy, had to be about 8 years old

with his corn rows and back pack on, say

thathismama told him that sun flowers was God’s way

of letting them know that anything is possible

and his little friend, a gorgeous little dark brown girl with hair everywhere said

what do that mean? and he said his mama told him

that a sun flower can grow anywhere and shine and shine on

and she said, oh, yeah… and took it as fact.

and i sat with this guy,

andrew, and we talked about a lot of things

the neighborhood, the earth, how houses should be demolished,

how long it takes to make soil viable again.

and i told him about the gun shots that wake me up at night

how i am traumatized every time i see a new sidewalk memorial pop up

honoring the life of some gone too soon child, or father, or sister or brother

and then i told him that i am still trying to figure out what green means

at its core i told him that i am still trying to find the language that my soul needs

to get a good grip on the everyday green of my life

from food to breath to bed at night and then up again to the morning

brand new and green with the bananas into the breakfast milk,

green in my heartbeat–green against the gunshots.

and he told me what inspires him

said how it is the earth and the mountains in Colorado

and the air and how his thoughts are clear when he is there

and i said yes

that is inspiring

you have inspired me

and green is

the smile on my neighbors face

laughing with her children

on their way to school

full of hope and promise

and a vision of something greater

in their own hands.

green is

my neighbor tayona’s daddy

coming out of jail

and feeling the worth of his own life.

green is

our own tomatoes

grown out of the soil

in our own back yards

with all of our sons

on the front porch


and eager to dream…

i am still working to find the words and the ways…

vg 2008

Vanessa German is a Pittsburgh based artist and poet.

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