American Life in Poetry: Column 644


My boyhood home in Iowa was surrounded by honeysuckle bushes that my father sprayed with the hose on summer evenings, and we'd open the windows and have 'forties air conditioning, a cool damp breeze. Here's an entirely different stand of honeysuckle, from Karla Morton, poet laureate of Texas. It's from her book Accidental Origami: New and Selected Works, from Texas Review Press.


It sprang up wild along the chain link fence—thick,
with glorious white
and yellow summer blooms, and green tips that we
pinched and pulled for one
perfect drop of gold honey. But Dad hated
it—hated its lack
of rows and containment, its disorder. Each
year, he dug, bulldozed,
and set fire to those determined vines. But each
year, they just grew back
stronger. Maybe that's why I felt the urge to
plant it that one day
in May, when cancer stepped onto my front porch
and rang the doorbell,
loose matches spilling out of its ugly fists.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Karla K. Morton, “Honeysuckle,” from Accidental Origami: New and Selected Works, (Texas Review Press, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of Karla K. Morton and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.