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Two Poems by Rick Hartwell

Ancient Oak

Amorous oak,

tall, broad, virile,

thirsty olive foliage.

Growth spurts

aided by teenagers

exhausting their first,

frenzied lust-making;

rosé and milk leftovers;

the recently inexperienced.

Foil packages and

rainbowed condoms

strewn indiscriminately.

Night animals depart as

orange poppies unwrap and

wild mustard leans into the sun.

Unbridled Growth

What do Hemingway’s cats

think of their shared heritage?

and Steinbeck’s dogs, as they

chased their tails as if to enter

the circle of life by the back door,

imitating the snake swallowing itself?

and I wish I could cop a feel of what

Raymond Carver thought of Jack Kerouac.


where are the writers describing the

disintegration and resurrection of urbs urbis?

Such as,

when the soul of the rustic dries up,

a town takes its place;

when the soul of the town flees its bounds,

a city takes its place;

when the soul of a city molts its constraint,

a gomorrahian metropolis takes its place.


when the soul of such implodes, like Detroit,

the soul of a civitas may appear.

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember the hormonally-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather be still tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon. He can be reached at

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