A Monstrous Catalpa Tree Grows from a Drain

You say your sunflowers are fifteen feet tall? 
This Catalpa is thirty feet, higher than the house. 
Soon the burdock and bitter dock will bury us in green. 
Our city feeds on jungle leaves the size of elephant ears.

The Catalpa pods hang, enormous dangling beans.

The Catalpa Tree does not enrich, nor does 
the monstrous burdock, be it bitter or curled. 
We laughed at how the Catalpa eats men and cats.
How its cheap matter foams at dusk to harden overnight. 

The Catalpa feeds on wormseed oil and nightshade flower-shine. 

The Catalpa Tree’s leaves smother and its dagger-beans stab. 
Hundreds of pods hang in clumps over our heads.
Not to notice is worrisome, as one man moved once into the green 
through a side door, his skull pierced 
as he entered the Catalpa’s spacious mansion
of enormous rooms, some spired and domed, some
small and smoky like cities across an oily river.

You will find platforms where one can view new stars.

If you climb high, you can hear the long wind 
since each is a stream pulled from one overarching wind.
The Catalpa Tree sprawls through the grate,
growing overnight, from sidewalk to sun tower.
Picked, the beans turn black, as the tree’s leaves shrink to pea green, 
the pallor of the ripe stiff putrefying by the chain-link. 


Copyright © 2023 by Regan Good. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 23, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“My friend Geoffrey and I send each other photos of things we’ve seen during our walkabouts in the city—transformers on the tops of skyscrapers, discarded, zipped suitcases in Inwood Park, etc.—but most often we are sending each other pictures of Catalpa trees growing from bioswales and weird cracks in the sidewalks. The Catalpa’s leaves are jungle-sized, as big as a human head. The vegetal world of a city fascinates me. Worlds of steel, tar, and concrete can’t stop plants from dispersing seeds: the seeds find some dirt, settle in, and—like [Robert] Lowell’s skunks in ‘Skunk Hour’—they will not scare.”
—Regan Good