Ilka Scobie

Socino Corn Song

If, when you are far from roads
The constant thrum of whizzing cars
If you can surrender to sultry silences,
If you can pause. Breathe. Carefully…listen
Sometimes, somehow, growing corn's
verdant song echoes over planted fields.

First, the sibilant exhale as seedlings pierce
plowed and furrowed earth, and then transmutes
to the clear whistle of flat unfurling leaves
Then corn silk’s whoosh gilded by August sun
Lastly, the echo of fattening kernels growing golden

A whisper and snap awaits harvest
Encompassing both green whistle and summer sigh


for Janine Pommy Vega 1942-2010

Whoever headlined your New York Times obit
— which you would have liked, death notice in
the paper of record —
Never really knew you
Certainly never loved you
You were called “a restless poet”
As if you had not homesteaded a Willow cabin,
Up the steepest ungravelled incline,
Ice-slicked for long dark frozen months
Your nearest neighbor a hibernating brown bear

Restless? Because you fearlessly scaled mountains
From Nepalese summits to Catskill’s gentle heights
Because you trekked the Amazon
Brought poetry to migrant camps
Or strode into jails to spread the Word

Over a decade that you have been gone
O Janine, perhaps a gift that you’ve missed
America’s facist flirtation
And with your expansive heart and uncensored mouth,
you never could stay silent.
They called you a witch because you sang incantations
A sexual explorer, they called you a whore

I called you mentor, sister, friend
When asked if you had any children,
You recited the names of your poetry books

On Bringing Covid to Connecticut

Bombs explode across the Ukraine
America easily unmasks from a preventable plague
Unknowingly, I carry Covid to the domicile of dearest friends.

Three years of almost isolation
Finally, cherished moments with old comrades
To share their hearth and hospitality.

Omicron is what I leave behind
Why did I not swab nostrils before embarking on
A weekend jaunt?
Survivors of Delta’s deadly pandemic
I bring invisible Omicron to beloved companions

Friends, at this age and stage, are life’s irreplaceable treasures
How hollow are my abject apologies
How precarious our hearts, our lungs, our lives

Ilka Scobie is the Deputy Editor of Live Mag!. Read about her here.