Stonecoast Review Issue 5

Advice for Composters

Written By: Alan S. Ambrisco

Turn often.  Not too often.
Water occasionally to keep the bin hot,
like an 80s car-wash movie.
Alternate layers of hydrogen-rich
and nitrogen-rich materials:
vegetable scraps, apple peels, tea leaves,
feathers, mussel shells, manure,
human hair and nail trimmings
(your own, please),
wood shavings, coffee grinds, grass clippings,
shredded magazines with controversial subjects
and soy-based inks.  Remove staples first.
Find a dead mouse and throw it in.
Seriously.  Very seriously,
like muckraking, or a memorial service.
Activate with blood, seaweed, bone meal,
give it what you’ve got, all you’ve got,
then take it back again.
Let it rest, too.  Time is your friend,
but remember the earth wants it.
If your neighbors hate the smell
add The New York Times, shredded,
sprinkle the pile with lime
or just dump your bin on their lawn,
protest against their pesticide use
and get a yard sign for the mayoral race.
Whichever candidate they hate.
Begin again.  Begin again.  Begin again.
Time is not your friend,
soon bin will become bed, old vegetables
bed cloth and burial shroud, moldering,
until you’re just white bone and shame.
Turn your life over, now, often,
not too often.  Begin again.
Begin again. Begin again.
The earth wants it.

Alan S. Ambrisco is an Associate Professor of English at The University of Akron in Ohio, where he teaches courses in medieval literature and a poetry writing workshop. His poems have appeared in Great Lakes Review, Kindred, The Red Rock Review, Sheepshead Review, and Whiskey Island Magazine, among others.