Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Category: Poetry

The Myth of the Moirai

Revisionist historians have
nothing on this ninety-nine
million year-old insect, locked in
Burmese amber, whose

triangular head could
turn 180 degrees –
shattering our own ability
by a full right angle.

The great horned owl,
sagacious-eyed hunter,
evolved, can pivot its own
close to a full rotation:

looking back without
repent or regret,
forward with no expectation,
other than the next repast.

No Tolstoy parable could
illustrate the point better,
frozen in natural resin,
no underwriter, no physician.

Let the ink hold fast, for
all we have is now.

Bonne Nuit

The beat, which unruly hearts do break
in obscurity of night, for all time’s sake
the moon, who has robbed the day of light
tampers with shapes the eye does take;

thieves and lovers, in obscure dance,
twisting bodies on a blue-beamed trance;
curse the fool, our unruly sun,
arrived through curtains, sans chance

to burn the skin and squint the eye,
eclipse the dream and quiet a sigh;
for nothing dark is desolation.
Solid rock, in absentia, tried:

guilty of nothing but deflecting light
and mirrors Her love, with all its might.

Chez Nous

Çe n’est pas un truc;
Çe n’est pas un lieu.

Not tasted from the
plate set with care
before us, or in a
bottomless cup of

butter tea, bitter
and pungent in its
reality, warm and
encompassing in

concept, an endless
envelope: like music
felt at the base of
the neck, that eases

the strain, taut with
burden, numbers, words
the stark concreteness
of life outside this

Place.

Not a brush stroke or
a structure, to dwell,
but a wave of warmth
where the melody

is felt, understood,
the notes left unread.
So pull up a chair.
Stay a while. Stay an

Eternity.

Loft Living

For J.S. Weaver

In a true Colonial, chopped, cornered,
center-chimneyed, puritanical walls
create charming nooks in which to
hide, with antiquated mechanisms.

We preferred loft living, a space
without the cordoned compartments, open:
where moon-faced children,
reflecting light, can hear

our shared soundtrack, a Joy
of Man’s Desiring. Clutching
fistfuls of color, they’ll
recognize me as I stumble

over their boots, left in a
row by the glass-paned door,
as I peel root vegetables
sweetened with dried herbs

which will sustain us through
this sinful New England winter.

First-Person Narrative

Seem, feel, look, taste,
sound, appear, become:
verbs of being, a personal
reality, whereby red is not

scarlet, amaranth, carmine
or falu; but a stitched letter
of public shame, a rose,
a stain on the lips or

the façade of a New England
barn. Living is largely a
solitary, hopeful,
human affair, whereby

perception is dominated
by bleeding colors.
Fearing no god, vulnerably,
one blazes a unique path

in search of another
with a similarly mysterious
sensory process, who sanguinely
has none of the answers.

Voluntas Vitae

The meaning of life? It lies
in the discovery of one’s own
bequest, a pearl in a shell,
an ability, a benefaction:

the willingness to refine it,
cultured, every shimmery layer
of opalescent nacre, held with
care, simply to be given away

with prudence to a worthy
steward, held indefinitely,
on permanent loan until passed
to another necklace, more precious

than Mikimoto. To be retained by
one, lacking recipient, is to grieve
like a lover with unrequited affections,
like a traveler without destination.

New England Mille Feuille

You are the oak tree that
incorporated the entirety
of a bicycle into your trunk,
an oddity of your growth

habits, to encompass the bike
left behind by a child who
no longer wanted it. Your
bark, spilling over the

rusted crossbar like a
primordial ooze,
viscous and precariously
supportive, until the

ultimate, Shel Silverstein
sacrifice left you an
obliging stump, revealing
the rings of your past:

widely spaced and pink
at the center, scarred by
draught, fire, trauma at
the radial lines, which you

carried with a steadfast
stoicism. You threw your
acorns to the forest floor,
rich In decomposing foliage.

There is no closure, only
nurture, taking what you have
learned to bear fruit, the caps of
which made shrill whistles

for children, reminding the world
of their undeveloped presence, shaded
by a collective canopy. No, you will never
be the Charter Oak, boastful, old,

rubbing knotted elbows with
King Charles, pompously
granting unprecedented autonomy
to the State of Connecticut.

Your wood will never comprise
the governor’s desk; but we will
look to you, noble savage, and
patiently await your counsel;

when your leaves are the size
of a mouses’s ear, we will plant corn,
we will feed even the ungrateful children,
we will nourish the world.

Towing Caution in the Wind

Brothers in the boat declared
you’ve gotta commit to the turn,
cut it, rip it open, ignore your
instincts. If you ever really

want to be any good, you
have to be scared and do it anyway.
Heed-able advice from two bags of
injuries, fools, who regardless

seemed pretty damned content
in this second-hand vessel.
I used dish soap to pull the
stiff binding around a lumpy

Achilles’ tendon, jumped in,
grabbed the rope, and heard:
no Sunday drags here. No
bullshit. Time’s a-wastin’.

So I succeeded,
and failed. Under the water,
everything was quieter, and
tinted green, the sound

of the motor oddly distant
and tinny, light rippling
and bending with the water
a bit of my blood. Baptized,

breaking the surface, a brother
yelled, you got it! I cried
Uncle, crawled into the boat
like an exhausted amphibious

victor. Did you feel it, baby?
No one gets to call me baby,
I said, and though damn straight
I felt it. A joyous ordeal.

Stop being such a girl, said a brother,
winked, threw a towel at me
that had warmed dry in the sun,
and cooed, OK, Honey?

The Canonization

Science found a way
to carve the essential
from the womb, an artificial
addition to our natural order

leaving behind a brilliant scar,
proud flesh.
Learned lessons and wisdom
is far sexier, I suppose;

An Arcadian Eden, earthly,
encircled in human arms, is
An ordered mess, an empathic axiom
that jumps on planes,

weeps, kisses wounds,
and answers, as best as one can.

As You Would Have Liked It

This gaudy salon offered a
poignant illustration of the
Pigeonhole Principle, where
a subset’s cardinality exploded:

those who loved you, or loved us
in your absence. It was an
occasion you would have loved,
your own fete, where every

wall of this fragile birdhouse
shattered, a Hilbert’s paradox
of our collective life: where those
that played on each stage

of Jacques’ poetical seven ages
gathered together, as only you
would have liked it. The only
gathering, solemn and transcendent

where uncomfortable compartments
dissolve. The curtain closes on
your strange and eventful history,
the last scene in which we

observe the main characters in
our own theaters, full of wise saws,
in a world too wide for smallness.
These are the keepers, who notice

that today it isn’t your regular grey
marry ‘em and bury ‘em suit that you wore,
laid out in celebration, but your dress blues
starched and as dignified as you, decorated

with a full bird on your lapel, that we found
in a box in your top dresser drawer.