The Crooked Tree, John Garmon

Laurie Doctor, The Moon and Her Shadow, 2016, Oil on Wood, 12″ X 12″



The super moon is blue and big
Eclipse gradually swallowing it
A gigantic red moon
When I go away do not look for me
It seems to say
I will reappear after a while
I shine through the crooked tree
Light interrupted by twisted branches
The super moon tracks us tonight
There is no way to stand like
The crooked tree
It is next to a tall palm
It reaches for the stars
In a distance blue mountains
Rise showing caps of white
Snow may show in morning sun
People eating themselves to death
Like the giant red obese moon
Being eaten by earth’s shadow
People have become too fat
The crooked tree has slender branches
At night it twists in the moonlight
The world is in eclipse
Soon the people will die away
The moon will continue
The crooked tree
Stands and waits there
As if it had a choice.

John Garmon


Review by Jared Pearce

Using the tree as the means to consider what life is and why it is makes this poem wonderful. The contrast between the tree and everything else (palm tree, mountain, moon, people) helps illustrate where people are and what they might be. The horror of the end, that fate rules, perhaps undermines the lesson the tree offers to the reader, but, then again, this only happens if the tree is actually telling the reader something. I suspect it’s not the tree that’s saying, as Rilke’s Apollo statue does, but the reader (and the poem’s speaker might be partly to blame, too) who inserts a meaning to make the image do his or her bidding. Rather, the tree’s a tree—it’s the people who make. The poem thus becomes a cautionary tale: we can make nature tell us a prophecy, but will we and do we have to believe it?

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