Green Means Literally a Thousand Things or More

So concludes an essay on “Fern Hill,” in which the student seems
somewhere between jazzed up & pissed off that green might mean
so many things from one stanza to the next: here, a blooming

Eden proxy; here, rot made by the grip of time. For starters. Or
that sun-slaked field, not far from our classroom, as lush-green
as any Welsh farmyard, greyed overnight with frost. Emerald

beer bottle hurled from a car. The slack-jawed lime-green
goblin face spanning a front porch post-Halloween
for so many weeks it looks like it’s here to stay. The long-ago

brown-green of Cleveland, where it rained always & without pity
upon a past I crave despite myself & our team lost always 14—2.
Every time we waited in the bleachers for the game to resume,

my father would look down upon the outfield’s diagonal lines
& proclaim Still a lot of green out there, meaning anything
can happen & will. Have you ever heard in a crowd the saddest part

of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” where everyone lies & pretends
we don’t care if we ever get back & makes the last word echo
twice more? We always want to get back, whether or not

we’re hailing childhood green. Like the student in her essay,
I too could keep rattling off images of spring & decay—June
sunset horizon flash, summer hair stained olive from churning

over-chlorinated pools, green shadow of a hand somewhere
that makes it feel as if owls were bearing everything away—
instead of looking again at the image online I glimpsed before

returning to the still-ungraded hay-high stack of student work. 
Maybe you saw it too? Maybe you also had the spellbound luck
of wandering to other tasks instead of asking what it means to know

anything can happen in a wholly different way, instead of looking 
once more at the slash of police tape that is the only horizon
that matters just now for the two men in the photograph who sit

together on the curb, faces glowing blue-red in the lights, both of them
bleary-eyed but alive, swaddled in aftermath & a blanket that is green,
a detail that couldn’t matter less, given how the numbers of the dead

still rise. Here we are again, as inevitable as the clock’s tick, looking in
at a place that now will never be young. Is there a way to say it—
There’s been a shooting—that will allow it to be heard, remembered

& heard without the easy glide of our past tense? That will stop us
from wanting to turn to anything under the wide starry sky that is not
the green fire burning in the minds of those men or the green

of a blanket America provides & provides without change? 

Related Poems

Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
     The night above the dingle starry,
          Time let me hail and climb
     Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
          Trail with daisies and barley
     Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
     In the sun that is young once only,
          Time let me play and be
     Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
          And the sabbath rang slowly
     In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
     And playing, lovely and watery
          And fire green as grass.
     And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
     Flying with the ricks, and the horses
          Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
     Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
          The sky gathered again
     And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
     Out of the whinnying green stable
          On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
     In the sun born over and over,
          I ran my heedless ways,
     My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
     Before the children green and golden
          Follow him out of grace,

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
     In the moon that is always rising,
          Nor that riding to sleep
     I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
          Time held me green and dying
     Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

The Greenness of Grass Is a Positive Quality

Morning was when we decided if not for the grass rising then wind shifted the film even as your fingers said wind can’t shift film inside a camera.

What inside the camera couldn’t be shifted from grass rising to a tree without the film shifting the tree black we decided was purple with light between your fingers.

Was the tree light between your fingers?

Or was the curtain along the windowsill how we didn’t measure the width was where the wind was coming from?

The moment the wind was light inside the curtain was when we couldn’t keep the grass from rising inside the camera.

Or where the grass was rising inside the camera was when we couldn’t see the film was shifting light between your fingers.

The moment the tree was light between your fingers was how we ask could the curtain have kept us fastened from becoming weight?

How were we to know where we were morning wasn’t the same as leaving an outline we could picture a yard as the width we asked to carry weight.

We counted that morning as the curtain shifting to grass which suggests any measurement is always time.

We were dark or unmeasured before the morning was the moment you were both the grass and shifting the camera between your fingers.

There is no measurement for how nothing could be morning after the camera shifting grass was light between your fingers.

Trigger Guard

Everyone I ever loved is standing 
on a platform with a gun. 

In the cartoon version, a flag pops 
with the word 'bang.' 

In the soap opera version, 
my face turns the color of merlot. 

In the haiku version, 
metal gleams in the narrow shadow.

In the Republican version, 
two guns wrap themselves in a single flag.

In the Langpo version.
idolatry yips yaps paradigm the. 

In my diary version,
I wonder why everyone hates me.

In the indie film version,  
a gun flickers over a mumbled tune.

In the Chekhov version, 
(well, you already know.) 

In the 10 o'clock news version,
the crisis in violence is rising.

In the action film version,
a shot means profits are rolling.

In the catalog version,
the smoke's hue is a burnished moss. 

In the teen movie version,
a nerdy gun removes her glasses.

In the lucid dream version,
I kiss a muzzle and it blossoms.

In the music video version,
a gun turns into a mouth.