Poetic License

Poetic License

Last week, as I was getting ready to go on vacation, I tried to get through (read: delete) as many emails as possible.

In my quick run-through I came across an email that showed how backwards our thinking can be sometimes.  I don’t know who wrote the original message, but I wanted to make a few changes and pass the message on. 

This brought up several questions, not the least of which was: Do I have the right to blatantly use this piece of writing? And can I change it around to make a point?  I decided the answer to both questions is: Yes!

What gives me that right, one might ask—I know I would want to know—why, it’s Poetic License.

Poetic license—defined as the liberty taken by a writer to deviate from conventions to achieve a desired effect—was the perfect thing to allow me to ignore the rules in pursuit of a noble purpose.  Here goes!


Like she did almost every morning, Mother Nature walked out onto her huge balcony.  She lived on a high mountain and liked to look over her domain.  She didn’t stay out there long, though—something was wrong.

She buzzed her assistant, “Buttercup, can you come in for a moment?”

“Yes?”  Buttercup waited expectantly by the office door.

“You know how I feel about nature, and the way I set things up, and how I feel about change?”

“Of course, M. N.”  Buttercup was the only one who could get away with calling Mother Nature by her nickname.

“Well, what in the world is going on all over the planet? I expected to see a vast garden of color, but all I see are green rectangles.

“What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweed, and all the stuff I started eons ago? It was a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought, and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees, and flocks of songbirds.”

“It’s the people, M. N., mostly the Suburbanites.  They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.”

“Grass?” she said.  “Grass?”  This repeating of words was something Buttercup had gotten used to.  They’d been together a long time.

“But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful—not colorful at all. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds, bees; only grubs and sod worms.  And, and, it’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?”

“Apparently so, M. N. They make a great effort to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing the grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.”

Mother Nature wasn’t at all sure she liked the idea of humans killing her flowers. But today was an especially lovely day; she’d look on the bright side.
“The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. At least that must make the Suburbanites happy.”

Apparently not, M. N. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it—sometimes twice a week.”

Mother Nature was really confused.   She just stood there staring like she sometimes did—so long that Buttercup wondered if she should just get back to work.

“They cut it? Cut it? Oh, I get it, they bale it like hay?”

“Not exactly, M. N., they usually rake it up and put it in bags.”

“Bag it? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?”

“No, M. N., just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.”

Here we go again, Buttercup thought.  I mean there was something regal and timeless about M. N. but, really, how long could she stand there staring?

“Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. Then when it does grow they cut it off and pay to throw it away?”

“That’s about it,” Buttercup said, thinking about all of the typing she had to get done; but M. N. was in a talkative mood.

Mother Nature smiled.  “These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.”

“You aren’t going to believe this, M. N.  When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.” 

“You know how I like to look at the bright side, Buttercup, but what nonsense.  Well, at least they kept some of the trees.

“That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.”

“Wouldn’t you be more comfortable sitting down, M. N.?” Buttercup asked.  “This may be a bit of a shock.”

“Honestly, Buttercup.  Do you think I just fell out of the sky yesterday?  I’m over…well, let’s just say I can take whatever you have to tell me.”

“All right,” Buttercup said.  “Here goes…the Suburbanites have their own ideas. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.”


M. N.’s schock was evident.  Buttercup stood there trying to keep the I-told-you-so look off her face. 

“What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?”

“After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch.  They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.”

“And where do they get this mulch?”

“They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.”

“Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore.”

Buttercup knew their conversation was over; she turned to go.

“Thank you,” M. N. managed to murmur.

On the way to her desk, Buttercup closed her window and lowered the shade.  The sky was already starting to get dark. 

–John Kavouras


About John Kav

I have always enjoyed humorous writing, but in college I learned to admire and appreciate creative non-fiction and its many forms. I liked the idea of writing that is entertaining or, even better, humorous but also tells a true story about someone’s everyday life, so that’s usually what I write. Enjoy! I hope you'll leave me comments and come back to this site often.
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4 Responses to Poetic License

  1. Barbara says:

    Nice humorous post, John. MN will be relieved to learn that we recycle our leaves into mulch that goes on the garden!

  2. johnkrab says:

    I’m sure she will be relieved. In fact, she probably already knows. 🙂

  3. jmcmurray says:

    Great post. I really like the message, and it was very non-preachy. Every year I take what few leaves make it to my yard and put them in my garden. I hope more people do.

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