Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Tangle of Lichen

On the forest floor a tangle
of fluorescent green lichen sprawls.
If I stepped on it I’d fall
a mile or two through dimensions

I’d never suspected were there.
Fresh as my daily shave the light
tingles with mayflies. The croaking
of blue jays wrinkles birch leaves

and ruffles my hair. If I fell
through the lichen I’d discover
why science loves interiors
of slow and complex evolution.

The glow of minerals plotting
revenge would reveal a depth
spelunkers have never attained.
Crystals larger than houses

would smile in post-Euclidean
glory, every facet polished
to enhance their stolid appeal.
The lichen has thought long and hard

about growing in this spot
in the center of a woods road.
It has rooted in a shade of green
that looks so unnatural it opens

not only the fourth but the fifth
dimension, the one Freud suspected
of undermining his life’s work.
No wonder I’d fall so far

and so hard, landing in plush
but fatal magma and bursting
into ash. Maybe I’d trigger
a volcanic moment the planet      

would remember long after
my human associates forget.
Maybe the lichen would inhale
my spirit as it tried to surface.

Then I’d learn what green really means
although too late to apply
that knowledge to my present tense,
the only one that matters.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Too Simple

Collapsed in the forest a mile
from water deep enough to float it
a boat splays in a bed of leaves.
Given this frank dereliction
Rimbaud might have prophesied
this failure of the romantic quest.

And shocked by his naïve outlook
Shelley’s hero would have drowned
in a stream barely deep enough
for wading. The rotting planks
look soft as sponge cake. Hard
to believe this craft ever buoyed

pairs of duck hunters in autumn
when the flyways crackled with game.
Now a bustle of insects claims
the dark beneath the hulk. A rasp
of phoebe’s the only birdsong
in this sadly depleted season.

I want this boat to drift again
among the lilies of Noone Pond.
I want some brazen young hero
to resurrect and deploy it
where the current stalls and last year’s
lone drowned deer has disappeared

with the breakup and exit of ice.
But already it’s more forest,
more wood decay assuming
a certain organic perspective
with which I shouldn’t interfere.
Even snapping a photo hurts

the symmetry of the scene
because I can’t plant myself
at an angle shallow enough
to catch the complete surrender
of matter to matter: a moment
too simple for art to prolong.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Feeding the Wild World

Deer and wild turkeys quarrel
over cracked corn strewn in my yard.
The deer wield hooves, the turkeys

peck and display. Each party
applies dirty looks. The corn on snow
looks festive and ornamental,

like gold dust sprinkled in quartz.
The world revolves on an axis
that terminates right at that stump,

the one on which a tom turkey
displays a halo of spiked feathers.
The deer refuse to kneel and honor

this phenomenon. Magnetic north
occurs just under the snow,
prickling their hides. I’d spread

more corn, enough for all parties,
but my appearance would spook the deer,
dismay the turkeys, and rupture

the electromagnetic tension
that holds this scene together.
Later, tired of watching the squabbles,

I’ll exit into the forest and slog
thigh-deep through pathless snow
to find an ornamental moment

I can call my own. A boulder
wigged with a snow-cap would do.
Or a wind-broken pine kneeling

with its crown all brittle and rusty.
The forest will scowl but tolerate
my presence. My clumsy deep tracks

will embody my form so firmly
the deer and turkeys, returning
to their customary habitat,                                                

in discovering the trail I’ve left
will be glad they didn’t cross me
in my gross inconceivable flesh.