Compost Poetry and the 'Magic at Work in the Rotten Stench'

Compost poetry
CC BY 2.0. Joi Ito/flickr

Joi Ito/flickr/CC BY 2.0

Compost is a funny thing. For the uninitiated, or the uninterested, it is at best a clever form of recycling, and at worst a disgusting, smelly and unpleasant alternative to sending your trash to landfill. For those of us who have the bug though, it can be everything from compost as animal husbandry to a form of probiotics for the soil. So it's really little wonder that compost inspires art. I've written about compost poetry before in the form of Lee Hay's living will begging that we compost his corpse.

And I've come across another great example of compost poetry that celebrates the magic in our muck. When I wrote about a great video on how to make compost extractions, reader Lucas Land shared a link to his Ode to Compost poem that he wrote on his blog, What Would Jesus Eat. Now I'll be the first to say that I am not much of a poetry reader, but there really is something beautifully reflective about this verse. (Reposted here with thanks – everything on What Would Jesus Eat falls under a Creative Commons license.):

Ode to Compost
Leaf and rind sit silentatop the pile of wastelifeless leftovers lingeringpiled together in an organic grave
still sits the moundquietly surveying the hum of activityplanting, watering, tending, milking, feeding, pruning,harvesting, dancing, laughing, weeping, hoping
productivity surrounds the pile of refuserestlessness judges the contemplation of the silent observeryet in the inner life of that monastic piledeep in the caverns of trashthe wet sponge of death is wrung outhyssop and sour wine mixed with goat's milk and honey
beyond knowing and seeingthe pile teems and turns withsocieties of decompositionThis civilization of death and decaybrings life
There is magic at work in the rotten stenchThere is mystery to beholdin the watchman of the farm

Of course the compost pedant in me would suggest that a "rotten stench" may be a sign that the pile has a little too much nitrogen and not enough carbon in it. But then again, maybe I should let the poet do his thing.

I'd love to know if anyone else is out there writing compost poetry. Feel free to share below.