Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

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.

Hair of the Dog

A Sunday Morning Haiku

A stiff cocktail seemed

Like a great idea last night.

What fools we mortals!

The Architecture of Renewal

A window washer
Dangling stories above the streets
On a make shift swing,
Sling, a pulleyed system of
Scaffolding, bumps along
Steel and glass, repelling like a
Rock climber, another victim of
Monotonous work,
Which is never as meditative as one claims.

Instead, he drearily watches his own
Hands, as if they belong to someone
Else, embedded chalk in the
Life-lines of his palms and
Revisits an earlier argument he had
With his wife, a disagreement
About a real problem,
No streaks, no drips, a break.

Sisyphean, like painting the
Golden Gate Bridge, or,
Churning through another rotation,
La Vie Quotidien is washing the
Clothes we’ll dirty again,
Mowing the lawn that will grow, again,
Commuting over misnomered
Super highways: all the while,
Making the same mistakes
And slapping our wrinkled foreheads.

Serendipitously we stumble over
A hollowed-out building, undergoing more
Gut than restoration, its façade
Tired but exactly the same as we remember,
Like a high school classmate at a reunion
Whose skin may say 50, but her voice, the tilt of
Her amused head says: still a child.

A shell of nothing, the building,
A blur from the driver’s window,
Scaffolding built around it
Looks like a protective cocoon.
In a sideways glance,
A Timberland-clad workman jumps to the sidewalk,
Holds his hands at his side
As he finds his earthen legs,
The world spinning as fast as it does
With humanly vertigo,
He looks up, sighs,
Grins to himself with what we recognize
As relief and fulfillment .

Easy Chair

A Haiku

Vestigial or not

Sunday afternoon jitters

Are unwelcome here.

Sunday Rest

Still in her nightgown

She pretends (again) that the

World will save itself.


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.

Her, And Her Antecedents

A katydid chirped

somewhere in this

200 year-old cottage,

interrupting the nightly

rituals, the scramble to

finish everything on the

proverbial fifteen year-old plate.

A lightning rod for all teenaged

concerns diverted anxiety onto

one undeserving creature

that has but one year to live


She is less entomophobic, more

stuck in the middle of

push and pull, making the

daily decision to provide, need, or

want, to place her hands on the

end of the rope that is manned by the

appropriate team.

This time, her younger self wins:

not the one who complains about

the sensitivity of her navel,

the grimace of the ancient place

that once connected her to her host; or

feels annoyance by

the dichotomy of responsibilities

of the child/parent who diverts trips home

through her ancestral village

to flip switches that her own

octogenarian mother can’t reach,

But the one who revels in the

foregone conclusion that

her mother will always want

to cradle her in the palms of

her warm hands, the same ones

that transport a green grasshopper

to a more obliging, al fresco


Sleep comes, tucked into

a familiar fetal position,

at the end of the day when she reflects

on all that has become ours, the

lists, the burden of what she carried, but ultimately,

Under the pacific weight of a quilt that allows

rest, respite, and a feral understanding

of the comfort it is to live where we belong and

to be essential, at both ends of the rope.

Second Cup of Saturday Morning Coffee

Mary Oliver’s Deeper Breaths

Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?