Born and raised in Southern California, Glenn Bach received his M.F.A.
in Drawing and Painting from Cal State Long Beach. In addition to his
work as a visual artist, he maintains an active life as a sound artist, with
works appearing in such online projects as and His current project is a poem sequence, Atlas Peripatetic,
inspired by an extensive mapping of sounds on his morning walk.
Excerpts have appeared in such journals as Aught, Chiron Review, and
DIAGRAM. He currently lives with his wife in Long Beach, California.


Everyone thinks of roses,
of the number of flowers and the length
of the season, of forty million year fossils
in Colorado and Oregon, of the roses
of Siberia and India,
the sand dunes of New England,
the wooded hills of New York,
of Missouri prairies and California rivers,
vast rose parks of ancient China,
Egyptian roses for Roman emperors,
Nero's nurseries at Paestum, streets of Provins
lined with apothecary shops.

One layer of five petals like an apple blossom,
exposed pollen for easy transmission,
red hips grow in the face of frosts,
fight dormancy and die, weak branches
to vigorous roots, grafted lump knuckles
of the bud union struck by the golden shades,
crossed, re-crossed, and back-crossed.

Most roses have thorns or fine spines,
vestigial thorns with no points,
the rose of love and beauty,
of goddesses and the Virgin Mary,
the red love and the pink grace,
the dark pink gratitude and the light pink admiration,
the white innocence and the yellow dying love,
the orange passion and the burgundy beauty,
the blue mystery of early summer and the first flush
of bloom, lighter with the arrival of fall,
the gamut of hues from snowy white
to sparkling yellow to deep tones
of crimson,
left to grow as they please,
canes branching above the knob
of the bud union,

old garden
hybrid perpetual
modern garden
the attar of roses,
the mixture of volatile oils,
steam-distilling the crushed petals of Arabia
to Persia and India, and the Valley of Roses
in Bulgaria, 3000 petals to a gram,
rose camphor (an odorless paraffin),
the pale gold blossoms of Francis Meilland,
a bundle of stems on the last plane
out of pre-invasion France,
thirty million Peace roses in ten years
bred from one tiny seed
no bigger
than the head of a pin--
a seed we might so easily
have overlooked or neglected
in a moment of inattention,
or which might have been
relished as a tidbit
by some hungry field mouse.


We signed the sky with ten thousand palms
bathed in dusk gold, nearing the end
of their lives, their fluttering brio,
the first date palms of 1769,
Algerian seeds, Egypt and Iraq,
Coachella Valley, fan palms along
orange groves, Mexican palms on the foggy
coast, giving away the land.

City Beautiful swept through
before the 1932 Olympics with palms
and palms, mighty diamonds
of the Canary Island date palm, the lacy
King and Queen, rarely toppled in storms,
wind-tunneled, fronds rarely falling
unless violated by trimmers,
domestically taller than in the wild
(they couldn't tell them apart),
cross-hatching bearing the stem,
the elephant legs, the fiber bark strong
as suspension bridge cable,
growing into the wind.

Transplants by the truckloads, thousands
per year, thousands of dollars each
(Las Vegas growing greener),
looking at palms afresh,
the fusarium wilt on a ten-year kill,
tearing into live wood with a feather duster,
pineapple head, hand saws,
50% bleach, Mexican pan palms
dying of old age, replaced
by broad canopies,
but these palms:
tall and taller
dusky green
aristocratic fruit trees of the Bible
sentinels of broadways standing watch
water until established
the serious cold
the spiny bouquets
the desert heat
the elegant parrots
an attractive thicket
artfully mixed and handsome
bright green tropical good looks
feathery or pinnate
crown shaft and palm sheds
slightly fierce
lavish white
spring startling against blue
lush summer necklace.

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