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Two Poems by Carla Schwartz


Trimmed and Burning


The trimmed limbs had to go somewhere, I had to let go of them.

The trimmed limbs, I never really let go of, I piled.


The trimmed limbs were so many, my piles wide, high. Burning bush limbs

are not straight , my piles led every which way.


The trimmed limbs, settled in as part of the landscape at the back of the yard.

A grudge, my neighbor, two trees I had cut down years ago.


First the limbs, then the thud. The trimmed limbs, the trunks, the sawing,

the chipping, the reveal between his yard and mine, wide open.


My neighbor, his dog, every morning, a visit to the tree stumps.

Every morning, mourning and a shit.


The trimmed limbs, disobedient limbs, a surprise letter, official,

requesting removal, a neighbor’s complaint.


The trimmed limbs, nuisance. The trimmed limbs, safe harbor for wildlife.

The trimmed limbs, how? Where? The trimmed limbs, ideas burble —


a fence of trimmed, trimmed limbs, a fire. My cheeks burn

when I pass near the flames, feeding the trimmed limbs, feeding,


feeding, until cinder and ash, until exhausted. My neighbor, his dog, every morning

a visit to the tree stumps. Every morning, sadness, shit.



Burning Bushes

1. Burning Bush

The Fire Bushes, loved in autumn for their lipstick red foliage,

berry in spring. The berries, wrinkled and clingy, scatter

and take root, like dandelions.


When I finally trim them, they have filled out like blossoming girls,

and have still gone to flower, then seed. The saplings root in

so easily — I cannot pull them up.


The bushes, big as silos, fence my yard on both sides.

It pains me to see these invasives thriving.

This year, I trim to the bone.


One side of the yard I tackle with a handsaw.

I argue down huge limbs with shoulder and sweat

and use a chainsaw for the rest.


2. Fire Bushes

What I thought would be easy — collect armfuls of logs and tie them with twine,

was more labor. I laid down the rope,

lined up the logs on top of the twine, and tied logs into a bundle.


The temperature was dropping, as was the sun. I lasted for six bundles. I fought

these limbs hard and was beaten. Finally, I gave up.

The rest would burn.


Arlene always called them Fire Bush, although here, the nickname is Burning Bush.

I pile the limbs high, my pyre. With my lighter, I spoil my labor —

burn the Burning Bush to coals and ash.


Carla Schwartz is a poet, filmmaker, photographer, and blogger whose poems have appeared in Aurorean, ArLiJo, Fourth River, Fulcrum, Bluefifth, Common Ground, Cactus Heart, Mom Egg, Switched-on Gutenberg, Gyroscope, Naugatuck River, Solstice, SHARKPACK, Triggerfish, Sweet Tree, and Ibbetson Street. Her poem Gum Surgery was anthologized in City of Notions, A Boston Poetry Anthology and her second book of poetry, Intimacy with the Wind, is available from Finishing Line Press or Her CB99videos youtube channel has 1,600,000+ views, and you can learn more at, or



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