Thursday, December 29, 2011



The ashtray on the porch
is a houseplant that died.

The cigarette butts look
like the chewed-up stubs

of pencils. In the gaps
between the trash, leaves

small and round as an infant’s
nails. Clover sprouting up

by the half-handful, some
sprigs already strong. You

didn’t water them, but you did
leave the ashtray in the rain.


  1. First of all, I keep wanting to say how much fun your profile pic is!! Second: this poem is perfect. And I'll be thinking about resilience and the force of nature working its way through the ashtray of my heart all day. This poem has co-opted my day.

  2. The last line would work better if it wasn't so clear the clover was growing in the ashtray instead of, say, the front yard.

  3. The ashtray/flowerpot image both starts and ends this poem, which describes how hope grows, unbidden, into a place that has been neglected and maybe even desecrated. Great, Hannah.

  4. Hello back Hannah..I missed you for a few days now...feel so deprived. I did not link the ash tray in the rain with the clover, maybe because our disheveled back yard has clover in it, and it comes up as you described. You reminded me of when I smoked...eek...water in ash trays...double eek!

    I do feel cheered up when I see the clover sprout in the ugliest of places and I do spend a good bit of time examining them, how many petals there? : )

    Great to read you and to see you!

  5. "...small and round as an infant's nails."

    So good.

  6. Imagery is so concrete that an ideograph stands out. Reminds me of William's red wheelbarrow. Ashtray (a container for the spent and consumed) is a remarkable conceit that may yet host a sprout. Bravo, H.

  7. I disagree William, Anne is right to note the ashtray is what begins and ends the poem making it complete. I like the tight couplet structure that almost sings as a ballad.

  8. I love this one Hannah, especially the last line, as I often leave the ashtray in the rain. I'm referring to the ashtray my son uses when he visits. Leaving it there reminds me of him when I look out the kitchen window.

  9. I love how the poem begins and ends. I have never smoked, but I know one smoker, who has just quit, I believe, who this poem reminds me of, and though her ashtray on the porch is not a houseplant that died, it seems fitting to the experience of watching her chain smoke cigarette after cigarette. I love the image of the clover sprouting. "You didn't water them, but you did leave the ashtray in the rain." I really enjoy this last line, and one thing I enjoy, with the inclusion of "you" is not knowing who is commenting here, the smoker, or the speaker of the poem, the "you" including the reader, helping them identify with this smoker and the wonder of the clover, and the incongruity of leaving an ashtray in the rain, and making something beautiful out of the gross activity.


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