I bought a unicorn. Swapped
it for my work-a-day black
espresso taken with a daily dose
of state-of-the-world and self-disgust.
All sweet-tart pink
powder & blue syrup, topped
with a spiral of pure white cream;
you needn’t tell me no one needs that crap,
the processed sugar & color, short-
chained fats, the plastic cup;
I savored every last drop, followed it up
at the Salvation Army
with a pair of crocheted pants
and a sleeveless fringed tank
2 sizes too large that reads:
love the little things.
Somewhere off Cherokee Road
the hills roll and the azaleas,
dogwoods litter the banks
of the dropped shoulder
with prom dress colors,
like this neck of the woods
was made for sweet sixteen.
Passing through for the first time,
I don’t understand: the Cherokee
never knew this southside
central Virginia suburb
as home; this
was Mattaponi land, or Pamunkey,
not made for pastel-
lined driveways, houses
set back facing the road
after a loud crash of histories.
Where last year’s leaffall
is manicured into groomed mounds
and the latest models
sit sparkling in whitewashed
gravel beds. And yet, the drive
is pleasant enough,
on the smartphone
alerting me of the next turn
off, so that I, as well as the azaleas,
dogwoods, can enjoy the scenery
where the journey ends.
A very kind shout-out and collaborative nod from artist Chris Ludke, whose work inspired the poem at our Literary salon last week. You can check out her work here— the painting’s title is Poe’s Enchanted Garden. More info on upcoming literary salons in Richmond can be found on the James River Writers’ site, here.
This poem was written by Joanna Lee.
On Hearing the History of the Poe Gardens at the Literary Salon in the Patrick Henry Pub
(based on the painting by Chris Ludke)
Nestled in a backdrop of chatter and raven windowpanes,
of sweating whiskey and melted rocks, light
plays on water and the pale of crepe,
of periwinkle. A sun plastically brightly cuts
the hard edge of a shadow that could stand
on it’s own, lonesome and unnatural.
And I remind myself this is about connection, that we,
rose-less, are a hundred variations of the same thorn.
Joanna hears her muse! You can look her up at
I thought the Salon was great! The 1st person to speak told the history of the Poe garden. It’s been through a lot of changes. It was…
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