after Ed Ochester


Because Judy had given me for Christmas

a lumpen pot she’d pinched & baked

right in her kitchen, I tried my first

African Violet just after New Year’s.

The cat nosed its four furry leaves,

so I braced a two-by-six where fan belts

had hung when the place was a gas station.

First thing that spring, I dug up a fern

at Parvin’s & Billy gave me a Wandering Jew,

drilled holes in the bottoms of two #10 cans

of sauerkraut he’d rinsed & said “Bake the soil

good & you’re set.” People gave me stuff

all the time then. I started a potato in a pot

my mother’s geraniums died in, then hung

in white pots I’d eye-bolted to the ceiling

an avocado, spider plants, ivy & a yam.

Just in time, the miraculous fertilizer

came to market, so I had a jungle up there.

What sudden leaves! Then again, I burned

an unsuspecting ficus & a miniature lemon tree.

Billy & Judy taught us all, having turned

the bungalow whose windows spilled golden light

onto the asphalt behind Williams Liquors

into the Land of Cockaigne. When they threw  

the windows open in spring, the rustle & rattle

of dappled leaves mingled with the blare

of Route 47, our careless chatter, & everything

I can’t remember—a faerie tune sung

all through the iron night of winter.


The Field Mice of Arneman Road


The field mice of Arneman Road filled the walls not long ago.

The poison sealed in the green pellets thinned their capillary walls

close enough to nothing the mice drowned in their own blood.

Vacuum the twenty-three pellet-piles. Scrub the floors & counters.


Blessed silence, broken by the music just one human could play.


Now the scrabbling again, as if they (field mice or gray, voles,

chipmunks, or—so the county’s rodent pamphlet claims—moles)

shove hangers along a wooden dowel then crowd around a typewriter,

jamming the keys into a clump, scratching the enamel letters.


They must be killed just as their forebears were killed: without mercy.


Long ago, hamsters had a home in the attic, snakes in the cellar.

Feral cats grew fat in that simpler time of casually fouled nests,

but the pea beans must be secured, the bins of hand-milled four,

the bricks of lard, thick-lipped jars of pickles & beets, tins of mackerel.
Blessed silence, broken by the music of one human eating.


John Repp’s poems have appeared widely, including in the March, 2015 issue of The Furious Gazelle.