A ballad

Green leaf of oak
I am the calm walker
with injuries in mind
green leaf of rhubarb
I am the breather of foul air
green leaf of dandelion
I invented cardboard
homes for the aged
green leaf of papyrus
I spirit your children off
and encourage
them to break the rules
green leaf of heartweed
I am the one
whose scissors you fear

Green leaf of ivy
climb the rich trellises
but wipe off that smile
green leaf of ragweed
seek your own kind
green leaf of barley
render them all
helpless and pitiful
green leaf of corn
sustain the meek
and teach them a little
green leaf of nettle
lie in wait for the rich
and burn them for me
green leaf of lilac
keep giving
it away for free


Jerry McGuire
from his book Vulgar Exhibitions
Eastern Washington University Press 2002

reprinted with permission of the poet

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