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Tuesday, April 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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American Life in Poetry: ‘Honeysuckle’ by Karla Morton

By Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06

My boyhood home in Iowa was surrounded by honeysuckle bushes that my father sprayed with the hose on summer evenings, and we’d open the windows and have 1940s air conditioning, a cool damp breeze. Here’s an entirely different stand of honeysuckle, from Karla Morton, poet laureate of Texas. It’s from her book “Accidental Origami: New and Selected Works,” from Texas Review Press.


It sprang up wild along the chain link fence – thick,

with glorious white

and yellow summer blooms, and green tips that we

pinched and pulled for one

perfect drop of gold honey. But Dad hated

it – hated its lack

of rows and containment, its disorder. Each

year, he dug, bulldozed,

and set fire to those determined vines. But each

year, they just grew back

stronger. Maybe that’s why I felt the urge to

plant it that one day

in May, when cancer stepped onto my front porch

and rang the doorbell,

loose matches spilling out of its ugly fists.

Poem copyright 2010 by Karla K. Morton, from “Accidental Origami: New and Selected Works” (Texas Review Press, 2016) and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by the Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

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