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I May Be Overdoing the Empathy Thing

but I cannot stop thinking about the Giant Hogweed
I passed on the turnpike between Vermillion
and Sandusky, its hollow stalk rising at least
fifteen feet closer to the sun, shouldering leaves
with wingspans wide enough to catch a gust
and set sail over Erie.

Had it ever hoped to do exactly that?
Did it ever ask how—instead of a Pacific view
along Big Sur or a semi-shady spot by a crystal
lake in Yellowstone—it ended up next
to a pockmarked pike.

Did it ever think, I have GOT to haul root out of Ohio?

Admirable, the way it swayed but did not snap,
always reaching up to drink in the flat blue sky.
Unfair, the way the Department of Agriculture
labeled it noxious and invasive, simply because
it spread its seed so much more efficiently
than the natives.

No matter. Soon enough, there will be the flashing orange
and the heavy rumbling and the gnashing of blades that shoot
sparks of sun as they whirl and draw closer and closer until

James King’s poetry has appeared in The Dillyduon Review, The Thieving Magpie, OpenDoor Poetry Magazine, Oddville Press, Big City Lit, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and forthcoming in Neon Literary Magazine. He is also the author of the award-winning novel, Bill Warrington’s Last Chance (Viking/Penguin). He lives in Wilton, Connecticut, USA.

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