Tuesday, July 13, 2021

In the Breath of the Waterfall


 It’s good standing in the breath of the waterfall. The spray feels like bolts of silk flung into the air. The roar divides into complex phrases and elongated sentences. If I stand here long enough, I’ll become a water creature, freshly gilled. Or at least amphibious, frog-faced to face an uneasy world. Days of midsummer rain have refueled the waterfall. A year ago, it was dry, a hulk of boulders without obvious purpose. I climbed up the wall of stone and stood where the brook had flowed all winter. The July heat had sunk into the naked outcroppings. Now it’s a thrust of power nothing organic can challenge. I want to live in its favor forever. At least for a moment or two longer. If I slip on this plank walkway, I’ll flush downstream all the way to the serious river in the valley below. That’s only a couple of miles, but the abrasion of the rocks would render me naked to the bone. That has its own attractions, but for now I’ll just inhale the mist, a membrane between dream and dreamer, porous but tough..

Friday, July 2, 2021

Slime Mold



You mistake it for an upchuck.

This tacky shapeless construct

aggregates independent cells

to protest through sheer disgust.

It objects to climate change


and to the dogma of structure

that dominates sentient minds.

This eukaryotic creature,

neither flora nor fauna,

adheres to bark mulch placed


for aesthetic effect behind

the chic brick shop that sells

fair trade goods from Peru.

This temporary alliance

of cells can creep elsewhere,


if most of the cells agree

on direction, speed, and purpose.

Sensitive to airborne chemicals,

alert to possible sources

of food, it can change its shape


from one abstract expression

to another. It may form stalks

of fruiting bodies flinging spores.

It eats bacteria, compost, yeast,

and even competing fungi.


Aren’t you sorry you mistook

this elaborate creation for bile?

Although this fuligo septica

is commonly called “dog vomit”

by other thoughtless people,


you should apologize before

its many cells decide to trace

you to your source and slime you,

rendering everything you believe

that revolting shade of yellow.


Friday, June 4, 2021

Rogue Rhododendron



A house-sized rhododendron

stalks through a village, planting

itself wherever it wishes.


Restless as a puppy, it uproots

after a few hours, replants

in the brightest light it can find.


You insist that I confront it,

but if the locals don’t mind

this frequent upheaval, why


should we? “It’s unnatural,

and surrealism’s out of date,”

you claim. I heft an axe


to defend myself, if needed,

and wander the streets till I spot

a massive flounce of blossoms


digging like a dog, spoiling

a distinctly cerebral lawn.

The householder stands safely


distant, his expression bland

as butterscotch pie. Approaching

the flora, I speak in tones


any plant should understand.

It seems to listen politely

as it settles into the hole it dug.


But its reply shivers through me

so vividly that I’m almost

persuaded to behead myself


with my otherwise useless axe.

Retreating a safe psychic distance,

I phone you to report that                                               


the flora is friendly but stubborn,

protective of its territory,

aware of its natural rights.


Its blossoms tinkle in the breeze.

It dozes on its boughs, tough enough

to strangle a full-grown man.