RISE UP GERANIUM WORD-GEMS(Pelargoniums)

flower pink bloom floral

My geraniums cry out
for water to quench their thirst
like my words wait
in the sanctuary of my mind,
ready to sprout on the blank page,
once a pinch of the pencil
or a snip of the keyboard
shapes the word-gems
into stem stanzas.


“Water them like they’re dying,”
says the high school agriculture teacher,
who gave me these sturdy green
Pelargoniums, root-bound
like my words tightly packed
into economized poems.
I make every word count
so the poem-plant grows
like well-nourished leaves
lap up dignity.


The hand that pours the water
must be careful not to overdo,
overwork the poem with
interpretation. Trust the words
to carry the narrative
because word-gems, like geraniums,
die in soggy soil.


Mind the moisture
with drainage holes in the container
so the potting mix does not rot.
Just water the top inch of the soil.


Word-gems need editing,
extra words cut, the poem contained,
the bare minimum written
to grow the poem from
the stem stanza
into bushy leaves, flowers.

Poem by Karen Carter

Karen Carter, a veteran teacher in post-secondary and secondary education, teaches high school English in North Carolina. She holds a PhD from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Her poems have appeared in Avalon Literary Review, Broadkill Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, Eclectica, MacGuffin, Miller’s Pond, Poetry Quarterly, The Write Launch, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, and Wild Roof Journal. Kenyon Review awarded her as a teacher/poet a writer’s workshop taught by renowned US poet laureate Tracy K. Smith.

Too much wetness for too long
in the pot without the drainage
makes the leaves fall over,
the plant no longer able to rise up.
Poems need the muse.
Geraniums need full sun,
six to eight hours a day,
but not too much summer heat.
I move the container for afternoon shade
so the leaves do not drop, so my words
stay crisp with revision and rest.
Today I sit on my front porch,
see for the first time in four weeks
peach blossoms.
I hope care colors my poems.