National Poetry Month Spotlight: Maggie Schwed

Welcome to National Poetry Month, 2016! We’re celebrating all month long. Each day we will bring you a poem we love–a selection from one of our published or forthcoming collections.

Today’s featured poet is Maggie Schwed, author of Driving to the Bees.
Schwed CoverCountry Ways
If she be not nimble, she that holdeth a bucket will be trod upon
by the sow.
Whoso eateth banana shall be set upon by the angry hive for the
scent is signal.
If the knife be not honed, it shall not open sack nor belly, and the
labor shall be more.
Trust not the headlight in October dark, for wet-piled leaf may yet
be toad, mid-leap from road to bed of weeds.
If your pillow’s plagued with acorn, if the yellow lentil move from
kitchen shelf to sock, who will not praise the provident mouse?
Surely deer will eat the hydrangea, surely they will.  Who is the
fool who knows what must needs be and yet will plant hydrangea?
Woe to the sleeper who doth not first seek the spider hidden in
the sheet.
Remember ye:  close the gate or the beast within will on the instant
be without.
Who doth not clean his gutter will behold the work of rain.  For mighty
is water and many its paths.
No hole is deep enough to keep the coyote from the carcass meat.
There is a fading in the trees and leaflessness?  All withereth,
except the moon.
Let the autumn cricket in the barn; it pleaseth the turkey whose
days are numbered.
The hunger of the rat increaseth with success.  Let death be farmer’s wit.
The skunk that by day sleepeth in the nesting box hath eaten of
the hen.  Betake the rifle and dispatch this appetite or after eat
no egg.
What is’t that instructs the bee:  aster, goldenrod and buckwheat
call for industry, else bitterest cold will come and want of
nectars with it.
The flock that practiceth doth fill the sky with utile V’s or stranger
patterns, reeling. These grant a warning pleasure to the eye:  comes
winter soon.  Too soon comes winter.
This poem originally appeared in The Kenyon Review.
Maggiephoto1Maggie Schwed’s first book of poems, Driving to the Bees, was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2014.  Her chapbook Out of Season was published in 2008 by Finishing Line Press. She is a livestock farm hand and beekeeper at Stone Barns Center for Food Agriculture in New York.