“Strawberry Fields” by Aaron Poochigian

Aaron Poochigian


72nd St. & Central Park West

After you leave the banks where moist sod yields
beneath your feet, you labor up a steep hill
and reach a garden called “Strawberry Fields.”
Our poem hoped never to reach this scene,
but here we are, and we will see this through.
Look at the flowers, every bloom, bud, sepal;
look at the trees, dogwoods and river birches
from all around the world. Here’s what they mean:
America is good at shooting people.
Yes, we are violent, we are sick—it’s true.
Not just the wars, I mean the annual quota
of massacres at schools, shows, stores and churches.
Here’s an example of what our worst can do:
In 1980, on December 8th,
a person of perverse religious faith
followed John Lennon back to The Dakota
and pumped him full of hollow points because
the former Beatle had proclaimed his band
“more popular than Jesus” (and it was).
So now, across the street, we have a stand
of elm trees, we have flame azaleas,
and geriatric strummers sit and croon
songs like “Imagine” in the afternoon.
To shrive a crime the world will never pardon
America gives prayers and a Peace Garden.

from Poets Respond
May 31, 2022


Aaron Poochigian: “I am working on an epic poem about Central Park, and America’s most recent spate of mass-shootings has prompted me to write this section on ‘Strawberry Fields,’ the assassination of John Lennon, and our nation’s homicidal tendencies.” (web)

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