2015: Jessica Greenbaum, “Then, the Parade of Flowers”

Who loves a March landscape
the snow—so domineering this winter—
now used suds from a broken machine, leaking

from the bottom of the side fence
eking only partially across the yard
the melt-drenched earth asserting itself

in whole patches, little beaches where the tide ebbs
the half dark earth / half snow landscape
something we recognize

from our own graceless moments of change
and doubt, whatever blanket truth we believed
with all our hearts one season of our lives—

how revelation, as we understood it
improved, like snow does, upon the day’s design
of pine boughs and picnic table

how it helped us see, again
and differently altogether, how it stayed true
for one season and how it defined a season

by remaining true—
all until, from a slightly different angle
the sun considered the earth

and turned it, like the text.

Commissioned by the Eta Chapter of Ohio, Phi Beta Kappa, 2015

Reviews of Jessica Greenbaum

“Jessica Greenbaum’s first book, Inventing Difficulty (Silverfish Review Press, 1998), won the Gerald Cable Prize. Her second book, The Two Yvonnes (2012), was chosen by Paul Muldoon for Princeton’s Series of Contemporary Poets. She is the poetry editor for upstreet and lives in Brooklyn. She received a 2014 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.”  (Poetry Foundation web site)

“Greenbaum's work, written in the everyday patois of urban Americans, has been characterized as edgy and idiosyncratic, localized and wry, and she’s earned comparisons to Whitman and Hart Crane for her lyrical familiarity with the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and environs. . . . Greenbaum's storyteller is not just interesting, but interested, and invested, in the world.”   (Diego Báez, Booklist)