Poison Ivy

reddish vine of poison ivy

reddish vine of poison ivy

The windows were open last night
Letting the gentle April rains blow in
I wiped the sills down with a towel
This morning and
That’s when I saw the results
Of my spring labors in the yard
Red welts moving
like angry clusters
On the white flesh of my forearms.
Oh, no.

I spent the whole afternoon
Picking up limbs, pruning bushes,
Pulling vines off fences,
While my husband mowed.

Insanity. I do this every spring,
Drunk in the freedom of the first warm air
Intoxicated by white blossoms snowing down
I unlock the shed, don floral print gloves
Pull out the sheers, the rake,
The empty brown plastic bins
And reel about my fourth acre like
I’m on a binge and I am.
Careless, oblivious,
after that first snip.
Nothing stops me.

The vines look dead, brown, lifeless
Something to be torn away and tossed
So that healthy green and beautiful
Undergrowth can spring up and thrive
But like serpents they’ve been lying
In wait for me, dormant,
To touch their venom
And walk away.
What made me think
I was the boss of this garden?

Cindy Brookshire
April 15, 2014

Open Mic Night at Deja Brew



Last time Poets & Writers went live at Deja Brew

I streamed it from my computer at home

Now I’m in the center of the purple klieg lights

A few white papers heavy in my hand

That Jamaica You Crazy might just stop my heart

In front of all the people in this coffee shop

Waiting to hear my first amplified words.


I’ll tell you where I got the courage.

Last Saturday I was at the Rising Writers Workshop

In Old Town Manassas

And two young women

from Woodbridge Senior High School challenged me.


They said “Don’t ever be afraid to stand up

And say what you want to say. Be raw. Be fearless.

Like Nikki Giovanni.  Like Andrea Gibson.”


Easy to be out there when you’re 17. I’ll be 60 next month.

The middle years have pinched me into a corner

Until the waiter doesn’t even see my hand any more.


So I leaned into the mic and offered up my poems

Fresh as wheat bread turned out of the loaf pans

Thump them. Butter the crust.

Savor them for breakfast when you wake this morning

And remember Deja Brew.


Cindy Brookshire

April 4, 2014