A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Judy Bankman




The earth wove a casket of reeds



In the land of sap & milkweed,
concrete chokes chlorophyll

heaving from root-strength,
blooms of hairline fractures

            Watch the granddaughter of omens
            whisper her shadow across brick

            a slate-thick sky, shelter of salix
            of wind chimes

            moth wings in her palm--

The fishermen and the trappers
did not prepare for this,

the waist-high water
flounder swimming constellations

            Watch the waves, rhythmic
            as metronome

            the fallow field, the drenched
            and dying sumac --

I am a shard of glass, scraping
blood lines across a jetty

I drink from wild honeysuckle,
suck bare fishbones

white as teeth, leave the tiny fans
of ribcage for the dogs

            Watch the mushrooms sprout
            from tongues of torn carpet --

I am an oil slick, a rusted hubcap
I open every door to the shrill fever
of wind

            Make believe it is not October
            Make believe in ether, in drought

War-bound shadow scaling fences

            Make believe in the play
            of light, a mere trick of sun

            and sparrows --

My favorite souvenir is a letter my grandpa wrote me a few years before he died. He encouraged me to take  to heart the words of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci: "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the spirit." I haven't forgotten this wisdom.

Judy Bankman is a poet and plant nurturer currently residing on the fourth floor of a crumbling castle in Brooklyn. Judy’s work has appeared in Axolotl, Wilde Magazine, and Windfall.