Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Category: Uncategorized

Hourglass Figures

“It’s my marry ‘em and bury ‘em suit,” he replied dryly
to the earnest woman seated opposite us. She was sipping a beer
from an amber-colored bottle when his quip motivated her
to smirk through her compliment, wrist to her lips, and cough the reply:

“Well, l’chiem! to that…” and took a more leisurely, feminine gulp.
I looked down at my own repeat appearance, a black crepe shift
that ably held me during my own celebrations. I made the requisite
calculations in my head: thirty years of cocktails,

a little snug for that first post partum evening out,
a bit loose for the memorial of a life-long friend whose loss
made us all appreciate our own longevity. We were gifted
more time to savor this world in slow, savory bites.

With wisdom, we are left to feel unexpected joy for our daughters
who complain, wrapped in a towel in front of their closets,
that they haven’t a thing to wear.

Faith and Hope

Lefty loosey, righty tighty I reminded her,
under my breath, as she struggled with
the battery panel to a toy house built for model people
that looked liked Prozac-laden versions

of ourselves, perma- grinning, plastic and
maniacally unaffected by the struggle that
ensued at the hands of their master, their animator,
who remained a few paces ahead of her developing

fine motor skills. The screwdriver shook
and slid from the star-shaped groove
of what should have been second nature, until
the emotional hose of her countenance,

kinked and sharply twisted, violently
burst forth a stream of blood to her cheeks,
the tool thrown against the wall, chipping the paint
that needed retouching anyway.

Inhaled through the nose, in one
frustrated stream, exhaled again, with
catharsis, she returned to the task at hand:
to illuminate an imaginary world

in electric light, where doorbells
chime a pleasant welcome and all is arranged,

just so.

Ode to the To Do List

“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order.”
-Umberto Eco

Bullet-pointed, hash-marked,
numbered, prioritized or
collected in order of cognitive
awareness, combating
with each passing senior
moment: a Sisyphean
conquest, a black hole of
tasks curiously recorded
for the ages.

We praise thee, oh! words
as powerful as the
proverbial pen,
scribbling persuasive
arguments via epistolary
quest, a Dear John to
forgetfulness, an
appeal, a refund of
sanity for anxiety.

Let this inventory of
tasks restore our
autonomy, our powers
of control, fool us into thinking
with each catalogue of
chores, every enumeration
of jobs: we’ve got it all
under our ink-stained

And as we tick a check
mark to the margins of
this register, or more violently,
scratch out lines, with
frantic blood-inked scribbles,
let us slice pieces of our laden
worlds away with a sharpened
scalpel-nib, cut away the cancers
of our lives with
every tiny accomplishment.


A true dilemma exists for this conflicted hound

in a world beyond his stove-warmed paws:

to follow his nose, to thee, unbound!

Our joints ache while the storm rages on,

forced to sing in domestic round, yet

a singular dilemma exists for this conflicted hound.

Soup simmers in a drafty house, the radio murmurs

of life in milder climes: where he might

follow his nose, to thee, unbound?

To sleep, once more, after injected pause

welcomed first for novelty, a break from the norm

he dreams of a dilemma, this conflicted hound.

To wake, once more, squinting in the sun

tethered and tripping through drifts of snow, he’d prefer

to follow his nose, unbound.

Strains for freedom, tugs at the leash

reminding sore shoulders of old injury

a true dilemma exists for the conflicted hound

to follow his nose, or to thee, be bound.

Easy Chair

A Haiku

Vestigial or not

Sunday afternoon jitters

Are unwelcome here.


A Sunday Morning Haiku

I had wistful dreams

Of Sunday morning leisure;

But the dog had other plans.

Pillow Talk

A Sunday Morning Haiku

Did I push you o’er

Or pull you back from the edge?

Our world is round, Babe.


There are spaces we occupy,

We nomadic tribes, picking

Up and leaving the eroded

Ground behind us,

Touching each and every

Possession twice, at origin,

Destination, judging

The beauty, the utility

Of an object.

The original purchase of

Sacred ground, from

The raised open palm of

The Wyantenock to

Transplanted Englishmen

At the peaceful source of

A river, ushered forth

A revolution,

As does mine: yet altogether

More personally. I cast off

The ill-advised blouse, the

Vacuum that never worked;

But I carry your letters,

My own hand-written

Epistolary memoir,

With me, like the bleached

Bones of our dead.

Ripened Berries

It was well after midnight
When I heard the whine,
Louder in my heart’s middle-aged senses
Than thunder, which rolled
Over First Mountain and into
My still-waking ears, registering only
The anxiety of a trembling
Labrador retriever. His fear
Befuddled me, assuming him more
Cognizant of the natural world than me.
Perhaps his instinctual response,
A vestigial one, harkened back
To a time when the woods were
His home, and there was nowhere
To hide from flashes
Of blue, illuminating lightening.

I slid onto the floor with him
Where he placed his head in my lap,
Next to my womb, which had sat
Vacant for a decade. He was supposed
To be the antidote for that emptiness,
Filling my nest with a wordless
Charge to feed, to caress,
To nurture. Now I wondered if he
Was destined to comfort me,
To guard my abdomen which
Wouldn’t give way. I gazed at him
With my own brand of anxiety
Wondering if the blood that pooled in me
Supported another or grew stale with age.

The rumbles subsided, the flashes
Grew dim, and the pup’s breaths
Grew steady as a man’s snores.
I got up reluctantly, rousing him,
Ordering him to his donut-shaped
Plush pillow, as my body gave way
To its monthly flush, in conjunction
With the full corn moon. Like the native
American calendar, we women have thirteen
Ticks in our annual cycle. I remembered
Fondly the berry moon, ripe with summer,
Where during a warm night I reached out
To my partner, grasping at my own
Aggregate life. Delicately I pinched the fragile fruit,
Its carpels soft and sweet, staining my fingers with
Raspberry juice before they fell
From the vine.


“I could get used to this.”

My stoic companion’s heels
rested on the cabin railing
In front of her, her feet forming
A Vee, mirroring the mountain pass before her.
A plate of wild strawberries balanced
Precociously on her lap.

Les fraises du bois, sweeter,
More acidic than the
The caricature version
Packed in a plastic box
At the A&P, a mere suggestion
Of the genuine, alpine version:
Delicate, dark, a decidedly
Unseasoned traveller, and wholly
Uninterested in private enterprise.

Fruit foraged from the woods,
Hidden at the edges of tree carpets
That adorned the Rocky Mountains:
We came dressed, ourselves, in bells
To deter bears, miles stolen
As if by Venus herself and
Left to contemplate Icarus soaring
Around the setting sun.

An impossible image,
Framed in vertigo and
Quickened breath, I turned from
The majesty, delegated it to a corner, to
Fade with age and romance.
“I don’t want to get used to this,”
I responded, fearing prolonged
Exposure would burn it
Away, like a jammed
Eight millimeter cell, muted as
An old knee-weakening ballad,
A torch song, turned
To background music.