Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Joan E. Bauer: Edward Snowden Is Flying into Moscow

On a day of just bearable June heat

after the summer solstice, a quiet Sunday

as Edward Snowden is flying into Moscow,

I am studying photos

of a Northside garden:

fuchsias in the baskets, geraniums

in the flower pots on the railing.


I think: Those glass blocks near the lattice

shimmer like icescape.

Glass by Corning

of Pittsburgh, now known too for bankruptcy

& asbestos. The trials drag on; the clients die.

I know lawyers on both sides.


Geraniums are reliably pliant. You start them

from stem cuttings, root them in perlite & peat moss,

you can even dig them up, push away the soil,

then hang them in the basement for the winter.

Then replant, they’ll bloom for months.




What do the neighbors see

as they gaze down from behind thin curtains?

October rains muddying the bricks,

a day-by-day cascade of leaves.

By November,

the faux oriental rug gone, then the lawn chairs.

The first bright snow, the glittering ice,

then dirty snow & rain,

then Easter as the birds come back,

perhaps a frog, then dragonflies

until the earth rises in the heat of June. Someone

brings back the rug, the lawn chairs & the fuchsias bloom.

Will the neighbors be watching from their windows

this September?



Our hosts just back from Ecuador.

25,000 species, 10% of all the world’s plants grow there.

Ferns & horsetails & orchids & ancient forests.

The Ecuadorians, a resilient people, starting with natives

of the Amazon, just ask the Incas & the Spanish,

the Peruvians. The government Socialist, but not high

on freedom of expression.

The penalties:

three years in jail, a $40 million fine for a column

that offends the president.




I start reading about Corning glass, all the modern uses.

Glass block for hurricanes, blast-resistant glass,

high-security glass that, if unlucky, we might see

from inside some prison.




A friend sends me the words of Václav Havel:

Keep the company of those who seek the truth.

Run from those who have found it.


I like the shadows of this garden,

a place where nothing’s altogether clear,

a place for orchids & moody contemplation,

a good place for begonias.

Copyright 2016 Joan E. Bauer. This poem was commissioned for the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh’s “Writers in the Garden” event, September 2013.


6 comments on “Joan E. Bauer: Edward Snowden Is Flying into Moscow

  1. MaryAnn Sinnhuber
    July 4, 2016

    So beautifully crafted!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Charlie Brice
    July 4, 2016

    What a tremendous poem. In the midst of the tiny joys of the quotidian, the poet contemplates war, destruction, the death of a glass company that caused deaths. Yes, we live in a world where certainty is to be feared, where vagueness is sometimes a small comfort. Bravo!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Barbara Maloutas
    July 4, 2016

    Great poem from a wonderful poet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jan Beatty
    July 4, 2016

    I love this poem!!
    Joan Bauer is a wonderful poet!!
    Jan Beatty

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Laurel Gord
    July 4, 2016

    I just love Joan’s poetry–the way it speaks from the heart, the way it bears re-reading and re-reading, and the way it says more each time. Thank you so much for publishing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jacqueline Robb
    July 4, 2016

    Thank you for this. Good to see the next, or perhaps parallel, part of your life. So quietly strong.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on July 4, 2016 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry, Social Justice, War and Peace and tagged , .
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