Christopher Scribner


On Using Pruners to Cut a Rug

I waltz with my leaf-vac,
I dance with my rake;
in lock-step, a box-stepping pattern we make.
It’s minuet-mulching,
it’s maple-leaf-ragtime;
I reel in those leaves and it’s brown-paper-bag time;
fandango the chain-saw
to trim back the bower,
and tango the cord that gives power-tools power.

I two-step my tiller,
bolero my trowel,
And jig to my weed-whacker’s rhythmical growl.
I shag with my shovel,
I cakewalk my spade,
ballet with my sprayer (a crabgrass crusade).
I shimmy with hedge-trimmers,
fox-trot with loppers,
and I and my hatchet are skilled Lindy-hoppers.

Astaire had his coatrack; Gene Kelly, his mouse;
and I have my lawn tools in back of my house.

Prohibited Poetics

“There are three words you are not to use in your writing for this class …”
— A poetry instructor

Benevolent intentions surely motivate this rule;
good writing habits must be learned initially in school.
Though teacher merely wants our writing not to be jejune,
it’s sad she’s quarantining words like soul and heart and moon.

The absence of the first word stymies angsty adolescents
and others who pontificate about eternal essence;
philosophers and clergymen might answer with a frown,
and music writers who revere the godchild of James Brown.

The second nixes coronary odes on lives made shorter,
and cuts the options for a flush in poker by one-quarter;
it hinders wan Romantics penning passion-oozing ballads,
and limits fans of artichokes as they prepare their salads.

The third forbidden word impairs poetic innovators
who yearn to publish paeans to the craggy lunar craters,
or to the NASA vehicles that spacemen used to rove, or
To designate the object hurdling cows are jumping over.



It’s bourbon, bluegrass, Derby Days;
a chance to sightsee, time to laze.
I bid my pounding heart be still—
a weekend trip to Louisville!

I soon pick up a predilection
for the Southland’s soft inflection—
but my diction (what a downer!)
outs me as an out-of-towner.

A bourbon-sugar-mint solution
lubricates my elocution,
spurring speech that won’t appall
as I enunciate each y’all.

I don my derby hat and hope
I look the part enough to cope—
and from my vocal chords now pull
an accent fit for Loo-a-vuhl.

Perhaps placing himself on shaky ground as an unserious poet, Christopher Scribner recently completed an MFA in creative writing. But neither that nor his previous degrees in psychology are to blame for his poetry ideas; those simply bubble up from the soggy half-century old wetware within his skull.