The Dead Thing In My Garden Part 2

The dirt hides things in Nevada County. My backyard is no different.


 There is a strange ominousness to digging on an unfamiliar piece of land in the Gold Country. The history here is deep and sordid. My home is in a place that bustled under dreams of getting rich quick and burst under the exploitation of those dreams. The history, however, isn’t ancient. According to a KXTV article, as recently as 2010, someone found a 9-pound gold nugget in their backyard.

In my backyard, I have found several rusty nails, pieces of broken glass and a few plastic bottle tops since I’ve started my attempt at transforming the over-grown field that is my yard into the adorable and bountiful garden sanctuary that I hope it will one day become.

Since I began my excavation a few weeks ago, I have had a harrowing feeling in my gut. Every time my shovel would clink against something beneath the earth and I would think, “Please don’t be a human skull.” I would dip in and break apart the clay while holding my breath. I would wipe my brow upon finding a rock or a bottle or a shoe. I have no logical basis for the creepiness of digging in my yard. I just feels like the first twenty minutes of a horror movie. My cat hiding in the nearby grass doesn’t alleviate the creepiness.


 I still haven’t discovered the reason for the yellow jackets that keep swarming the far side of my garden. I haven’t found a dead body. But I haven’t struck gold either.

My winter garden seems to be doing well. The leeks are growing like weeds.

The Dead Thing In My Garden

I believe that something—or someone—is buried in a shallow grave in my backyard. Over the past few weeks, I have been removing years of untended blackberries, burdock and dandelion in hopes of making a space for a winter garden. A few days ago, I was stung by a yellow jacket as they swarmed a hole I had just dug to pull out a large blackberry crown.


Yellow jackets are omnivorous, unlike their much friendlier, honey-making counter parts the bumble bee and honey bee. This time of year, yellow jackets have a particularly sinister taste for rotting fruit and meat.

I once beheaded a rattle snake with a cinder block. The event is something that I will never be able to forget. The snake’s body continued to writhe and squirm for nearly an hour after being decapitated. While its headless body slithered, yellow jackets by the dozens came from nowhere and slowly and methodically picked the snake meat until there was nothing left but a long backbone, many ribs and a rattle. It is this memory that makes me fairly certain that there is a body of some sort rotting in my backyard.

I have tried to go back on several occasions to continue weeding. After making sure the area is clear of yellow jackets, I begin to dig. As soon as I disturb the earth, the yellow jackets reappear. I have not been able to work long enough or dig deep enough to see what they are after.

I planted my leeks and collards on the other side of the yard.

For Every Poet

“You tell me that silence

is nearer to peace than poems

but if for my gift

I brought you silence

(for I know silence)

you would say

This is not silence

this is another poem

and you would hand it back to me” -Leonard Cohen

 me at mondo

I wrote another poem today, another meaningless poem that will go unnoticed. I won’t post it here. I won’t bore you. We all know that poetry is futile.

Today’s unpublished poem was good. It was beyond good. It was amazing and pertinent and perfect. It dripped of rhymed couplets. It held its subject with beauty and grandeur. It made a legend into a simple man and turned him back again. It was one of the best poems I have ever written.

 But it doesn’t matter. It might have been silence.

 For this is the work of a poet.

We walk lines that no one can see. We write lines that no one can acknowledge. It’s just what we do. Our commas are a smudge on paper. Our commas are the moments that no one can hear. Our commas are a lost art.

I’m still hoping. I’m still wishing that someone will notice my poem.

But that is the gift of silence.

And someone will hand it back to me.