Iowa Writes

JOHN F. O'BRIEN
The Gardens of Defeat: Oberhausen, Germany


The scar from the phosphorus bomb
darkens the peak near the roof.

Past the walnut tree, the walk extends—
a pathway through order and cultivation.

Fruit trees are forced to grow along wires.
Berries garnish the staple roots.

Rainwater is gathered from the roof
over rabbits and fowl.

A bully rooster cries his last—
becomes part of today's tomato salad.

Every inch meticulously worked
the time of desperate need now past.

Below the roots,
deeper than memory,
the habit of cultivation.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


JOHN F. O'BRIEN

This poem originally appeared in Volume 5, Number 6 of 100 Words, a journal published by The University of Iowa's International Writing Program between 1993 and 1998. Each piece in the journal had to be 100 words or fewer, and each issue had a theme. This issue's theme was "On Garden."

This page was first displayed
on May 29, 2009

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