Vox Populi

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Michael Simms: Compost

This poem is from Michael Simms’s new collection NIGHTJAR, published by Ragged Sky Press. To register to attend the FREE ZOOM BOOK LAUNCH  at 7pm EST Wednesday, November 10, sponsored by White Whale Bookstore, please click here.

I slide back the lid

of the compost bin

and a cloud of flies

rises with the raw

stench and I see

creatures thriving

in the dark – nematodes,

snails, slugs, wrigglers

seething in the riot

of banana skins, rotifera

twisting through

apple cores releasing

sweetness, feather-winged

beetles digesting

leftover minestrone

and hard crusts

of bread softening

and turning black

with time


and the bugs

that feed on them,

rove beetles, predatory

mites, formicid ants

and carabid –

We should be grateful

to them all, especially

the invisible mesophilic

bacteria who do

the principled work

of death

In the busy darkness

beneath the garden

earthworms absorb

bacilli through

their epithelia

while fine white strands

of mycelia reach

into the cells of the woody stalk

and hard husk of sunflower

nourishing the roots

of the elderberry

offering the fruit

we harvest and simmer down

to a thick syrup of darkness

we consume a spoon at a time

From Nightjar by Michael Simms. Copyright 2021.

Michael Simms is the founding editor of Vox Populi. His collections of poems include Nightjar (2021) and American Ash (2020), both published by Ragged Sky Press, Princeton.

Sambucus canadensis ‘Wyldewood elderberry’ (photo: Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Co.)

6 comments on “Michael Simms: Compost

  1. Leo
    November 6, 2021

    Congats on new book! It will be next on my purchase list. Obviously, great minds think alike; the last two books I read where on soil ecology. I love dirt! If I possessed the work ethic to put together a book of poems it definitely would be called “Dirt.” Go mycelia!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Huntington
    November 6, 2021

    The compost bin is very important in my house as well as the compost pail. There is also a new vita mix composter I’m trying out, but until ithe result mixed with the real stuff, it has no character.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. melpacker
    November 6, 2021

    So familiar. Thanks, Michael Simms.

    Liked by 1 person

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