Jurupa Hills / Riverside

Why so urgent to sum what’s tendered
                                                          season’s tremulous drifting
                                                weathers our numeric edges
                                 I break apart      green announces
                                          butterfly tempests      signatories
                                                    for rain’s dialects rippled on hills

            I come glimpsed      asking towards
                                                           what words have no words for
                                                 To remain settled pre sums I
                                  where here I’s remainder may own
                                          more than any body should claim
                                                     I have refused each offer      still

            I don’t know how to decline wonder
                                                            lemons hanging over walls
                                                  hibiscus trees unfolding red
                                   birds of paradise      here every
                                          colonial experiment’s proliferating
                                                     Enclosure does not negate beauty 

            beauty complicates what’s ill faring
                                                            which is this land       which
                                                  doesn’t owe me a damn thing
                                   I’m halted by broken sidewalks
                                           profuse with weeds      burclover
                                                    bull thistle      their small possible


Copyright © 2023 by Aaron Boothby. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 18, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“‘Jurupa Hills / Riverside’ comes out of a continued project of writing poetry of place, in this case the neighborhood of Riverside, California, where I grew up, and in the hills around the city where ancient scrub oaks are some of the oldest living things on earth, struggling with even less frequent rains than before. There is so much beauty in the landscape and gardens. It is also irrevocably marked by colonial violence and capitalism. Questioning how I am here, as much as why, can be an opening into understanding what is there.”
—Aaron Boothby