Skip to content →

What the Backyard Will Not Give

Not doubloons.

Not carrots.

Not trees.


not shade.


not rest.

Not even

the dream of it.

So not grace.

Not even green.

It will give dust.

It will give grease.

It will give up

the greasy

fettered feathers

of birds busily

becoming heat.

But not worms.

Not enough,

at least.

Nor the lush


their thriving

might provide.


not daisies.

Nor tulips.

Therefore not

the eye’s relief.

It will give haze.

It will give glass.

Flung in two


arcing shards.

It will give

a modern history

of trash. Cups

and plates

of polystyrene

and pine-scented


cardboard trees.

It will give

my daughter

rashes, burns,

and bleeds.

So it will

give grief.

Enough to

chafe on

in the slotted

August light

and breeze.

And stones.

It will

give stones.

One whole


ragged range.


by boots.

By fingers.

By the trowel’s

buckled blade.


to stack.

To study,


and grade.


doing so

will not bless

this place.

Though I



still wish

to know

their names.

from The Newest Employee of the Museum of Ruin
Find more by Charlie Clark at the library

Copyright © 2020 Charlie Clark
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Charlie Clark Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.