Guest Rants in Verse by Jennifer Martenson


For Whom the Leaf Blower Blows

Consumer grade cost cutters

available in mildly indifferent and turbo screw all y’all models*

shift the burden of debris

faster than you can say externality

*inline deregulators sold separately


Prélude à l’après-midi d’un leaf blower

Gunning at dawn

as if to secure

the right to water

the lawn, to leave

the engine on, to burn

what we please

and pile the debris

on someone else’s

doorstep, to adjust

one’s mask before

asphyxiating others,

a two-stroke civic

discourse at full

throttle keeps

the peace and

quiet clean.


The Aggressive Ways of the Casual Leaf Blower

“Clean up,” they say, filling the air

with dirt and exhaust. As if

you can more quickly rake in cash

by blowing it into the street.

With all the force — and foresight —

of a tornado. Such logic

flies in everyone’s face, yet passes

for rational self-interest. How

so many ignore it, I don’t know.

It screams out to be heard

from blocks away, even with

the windows closed. And the stereo on.


Out of Proportion, Endlessly Blowing

Given that it takes four

hundred cubic feet per

minute of hot

air blowing at

two hundred miles per

hour to displace the

weight of one

grass clipping

pressed to wet

cement and one

cubic yard of

chipped bark

(color enhanced)

to replace

what is blown

out from under

one square yew

(freshly shaved) by

what percentage does

the value of

hearing oneself

think decline in

the presence of

one leaf scritching

in the street

and how many wind

turbines will it take

to keep America’s

sidewalks clean

on a rainy day

in hurricane season?

Jennifer Martenson is the author of a book of poems called Unsound (Burning Deck Press, 2010). She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where she works as a library associate and is learning to garden after many years of garden-less apartment living.