Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Category: Poetry

Portraiture

Among campily painted portraits
Is our photo, take a few years ago,
A moment, a grain, frozen in
Acids, chemicals, a fixer. The phantom
Women loom large over us, distorted
Somewhat grotesquely and reminiscent
Of discomfort in their oils.

I’m not sure if the collection is
A litany of lost desires, remembrances,
Or a study of the brush strokes, some
Folksy, others more sophisticated,
All portraying perfectly smooth skin,
Protruding lips and out-of-focus eyes.

There we stand, amongst the
Artifice, somewhat true to ourselves.

The grocer told me I hadn’t aged a
Day in fifteen years this morning,
But I corrected him: I have aged 5,475
Of them, some more pleasantly than others.

Some more memorable:
Those that were weighted down like
Leaden grief, others as light as
Sunlit beams of dust;
Most passed unnoticed in the
Monotony of enduring, marked
By one more cup of coffee, one
More walk to the park with a
Canine or another on the end of a leash,
A commute like all the others,
Hanging on the end of a strap.

If our portrait was painted, I suppose
It would be a pointillist one, made up
Of tiny dots, each one marking
The mysterious days we spent
Together, apart, marking
A line on our face, a streak in
Our hair. An Archimboldo perhaps,
A composite of every morsel that
Sustained us, comforted us,
Savored over candlelight
Or wolfed down over the sink
As a baby screamed from his crib.

Not a Cindy Sherman, a Warhol,
Disguised and obscured,
Nor a self-portrait, filtered and
Self-conscious. A candid!
Truer to a Rembrandt, and honest:
A photomosaic that captures
Every moment, a deconstruct.

Because we have aged, and lived, every day;
It’s dying we’d prefer to do just once.

Baptism

For Alyce

Voices, indiscriminate, mingled with
The rushing water, white noise
Suggestions of unfinished conversations,
Whispered and bellowed
During this interminable day.

If I closed my eyes I could
Conjure the river in the Spring:
Unfiltered melted snow rushing
Next to an old Indian trail
Long since paved over,
Lavender on its banks, the oil
Of which perfumes a colicky baby’s bath.

Wash away the day, you say,
Crawl into bed with no hint
Of the dust that sticks
To your skin, that burdensome layer
Sent to the waterways with
The race of men who live
In its rapids.

The nights should pass as fast
As years with young children.
Slow the day and walk on the earth with dry feet
Sound, circum caput, no longer
Plagued like Macbeth, but
Reborn, unburdened, present
And able to rest.

The Baby

The Baby, he called it, 
His sourdough starter:
The essential ingredient 
To his sublime pizza pies,
Fired in a wood oven, 
Constantly attended with a
Familial passion that seemed
To transcend what we were eating,
Devouring, more like it,
Goofily smiling at each other
As if this simple meal was
Something more than it appeared
To be,
Served in a hole in the wall
with steamy windows, facing
Deserted streets of a sleepy
Neighborhood.  “Don’t eat
It or it’ll be gone!” you said,
It was too perfect to eat,
This meal, culminating a 
Similarly exalted day, “We’d better
Drive carefully on the way
Home, as something’s got 
To give…”  Give?
Like the sacrificial baby with 
Neapolitan roots, started and fed
By a doting mother who would 
Nourish the world, a Columbian
Exchange of her love, her life,
Much like the Brazilian votive
Left on a Rio altar, in thanks 
For a safe delivery: moulded in 
waxy cultures, a Giza starter,
A Red Sea starter, a sacrificial
Lamb, an Isaac, that found its
Convoluted way to us, 
Astounded at our good luck 
For blessings that are never
As small as they seem.

 

At Large

Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?
-William Shakespeare, As You Like It

 

Give it to me in pieces, please,
Just a nibble, something easy to stomach,
Morsels, a simple sweet bit, soupçons,
Spoonfuls that melt on the tongue, like honey,
Tidbits, a gobbet, a taste.

Minutiae? It’s not trivial. Trifle?
An English dessert, layered in subtle
Creams, custards, fruits. Isn’t joy
Best delivered in snippets? Your cake made sweeter
By the bitter coffee that warms my
Waking hands? Even those who throw
The grand galas, know
That the devil is in the details.

For bright blue eyes are the most beautiful,
My love, when gracing a weathered face:
A visage that earned its deepened lines
By squinting into the sun, the same ball
Of scorching plasma that blinded us to the
Stars, upon which we only see fit
To wish in the darkest of nights.

Insomnia

A Sunday Morning Haiku

Flip the pillow, you

Thought. The cold against your cheek

Would chill you out, too.

Subconscious Snake Charmer

A Sunday Morning Haiku

A lightning rod for

Diverting anxiety:

Bizarre morning dreams.

Transition: An Unfamiliar Plot

A Sunday Morning Haiku

When the world leaves you
In suspended animation,
Read the belov’d novel.

The Crossword Puzzle

A Sunday Morning Haiku

Brain food, comfort for

Those with idle time, of thought,

An ecosystem.

Clutter

A Sunday Morning Haiku

We all hoard something:
Wether it be clothes, books or
Hopes for true comfort.

The Path of Least Resistance

The man who distributed lift passes
For our alpine hike also comped
Us a red bear bell,
More Christmas tree ornament:
Something to usher in a
Set of Angels’ wings, rather
Than deterrent via pleasant tinkle for
A frothing, underfed
Woodland creature.

I took inventory of
My natural defense system,
Considered how primed my body
Was for response, and took stock
Of my accoutrements: running shoes?
Weaponry?  If only it were as easy
As Zuzu’s little bell when
That clammy Heap of Uriah
Pinned me to his couch;
I bloodied his lip instead. Or,
When those drunk teenagers
In a gritty park behind the A&P
Called me names I didn’t
Understand?  Ran like it was
The last leg, and carried a big baton.

Its a little trickier when the bear
Wears the face of a loved one.
Fight for your life?  Or run for it?
A more Swiftian response
Might do:
Fashion repellant everyday wear,
Strung together with pungent cloves:
A necklace.

But the hike is vastly more engrossing
With wildlife, and views.