In the garden planted by the church group,
tomato plants struggle,
radishes, too, leaves withered
in the streaks of sun, against
the broad-leafed vines that crawl
along the moist dirt
as the prickly stalks
invade the fenced-in plot.
Rabbits eat the leaves
of the few plants that manage health,
squeeze beneath the chicken-wire
and rest in the wet soil.
We chase them away, says a man
in a sweat-stained t-shirt,
but I guess they don’t have
anywhere else to go.
Hank Kalet‘s poetry and journalism have appeared in regional and national publications, including The Progressive, In These Times, the Journal of New Jersey Poets, Big Hammer, Big Scream, The Free Press and elsewhere. He has authored three chapbooks — Suburban Pastoral (Voices of Reason, 2008), Certainties and Uncertainties (Finishing Line Press, 2010), and Stealing Copper (Finishing Line Press, 2015) — and his work was included in Palisades, Parkways & Pinelands: An Anthology of Contemporary New Jersey Poets (Blast, 2016). He is a regular contributor to NJ Spotlight, where he covers poverty, immigration and urban issues, and writes a regular column for The Progressive Populist. Formerly a long-time editor and editorial writer for the Princeton Packet newspaper chain, he now teaches journalism and writing at Rutgers University and Middlesex County College. He received his MFA in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2013. He lives in Central Jersey with his wife Annie and their two dogs.
“In the Garden” originally appeared in Hank’s collection As an Alien in a Land of Promise from Piscataway House Publications.