A Thousand Reaching Arms – NaPoWriMo 2017, day sixteen – prompt: after Ross Gay


Backyard seat 2013

The Back Garden, no problem


A Thousand Reaching Arms of Jasmine Creeping


Haeri mai; welcome friends, any who enter

my front gate. Along the footpath

you will see

an overgrowth;


which are also known

as Lily of the Nile, yes,

they have engulfed the border against the fence line:

but it is the Jasmine creeping entwining over

and beneath their feet; who reaches out for the street.

It is she who has gained a highlight.

We must trim it. Cut it back from any further advancement.


Dear friends, Even as I go to check

Jasmine sweeps out one of a thousand arms.

I could say I fall for Jasmine. Of course, I do.

I almost tripped, my ankle grasped by this trailing footpath vestment

She has breathed new life, entwined around

the camellia, happy to strangle,

fresh after warm late summer/

early autumn rain.

But she, who is responsible

for an obnoxious compliance notice; the one,

so recently placed in my letter box by the City Environment officer.

“Clear your footpath. I will be back in two weeks,” he says.

Well, yes Sir I will do this in between writing poems.

Poems for Jasmine, camellias, oranges and lemons, cherry trees

and Irises. And dancing; dear friends,

when I have complied with the officers’ compliance

we will dance on my green lawn,

or maybe we will dance every morning at dawn

to ease the burden, not reminding ourselves

of this irreverent caution. But I suppose we cannot

let jasmine take over the world. Perhaps no cars

could travel down the street for jasmine, certainly

not old folks walking or children on tricycles.


We are coming into

our season the camellias claim.

Strong slender vines ramble through every branch;

sharp shiny green camellia leaves,

and smaller slim Jasmine leaves advertising prosperous growth for both.

Make a little room please; camellia and autumn roses whose thorns

are beautiful and have their own conversation.


I wait for the bright pink, brilliant many shades of red;

two variegated bushes pink/red/white,

a growing hedge of winter-flowering camellias.

With clipper and spade we shear away a tangle of wiry tendrils;

dear Jasmine, we are now in compliance.


The rude good health of lemon tree and orange. Cherry trees,

almost ready for their winter hibernation. Irises bulbs were split:

spread now their rigid leaves and make me want to sing for the spring

which we will welcome in the months ahead;

many winter months ahead.

Already the birds

give us a good report

They never tangle with Jasmine.  So I find

myself dancing from tree to tree, communications

for the joy of a garden and a recent and ready safer entry;

no tendrils to hesitate our footpath stroll.

Dear friends, enter at my gate. You many

not smell Jasmine at every turn

but you will be dancing. Dancing

in the garden for camellias and birds.

Dear friends, enter at my gate. You too

may sing as you enter. Haeri mai. Everything is ka pai.


Benita H. Kape © 16.4.2017


* Haeri mai –  welcome

* ka pai       –   all is good

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Today I challenge you to take your inspiration, like our featured interviewee did in the chapbook she co-authored with Ross Gay, from the act of letter-writing. Your poem can be in the form of a letter to a person, place, or thing, or in the form of a back-and-forth correspondence.