Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

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.


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.


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.

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 .