Thursday, October 25, 2018

A Halloween Rainbow

Stabbed like a stalk of celery
into the outskirts of Wilton,
a fragment of rainbow marks
the spot where luck runs out.
That’s because the storm still storms
in its vortex, sunshine lobbing
photons into a drapery of rain.
We have to keep driving east
into a simmer of headlights
behind which angry commuters
twiddle with their radios,
hoping to tune in good news.

An expensive sort of evening.
Colors wash off in the rain,
exposing our plain humanity.
Everyone who spots the rainbow
pulls off the road to snap
a photo or two, hoping this omen
isn’t ominous as a shark smile
but sprightly as a bough of blossoms.
At an office in Amherst our cat
has suffered dental surgery
and wants to come home with us
with her carnivore sneer intact.

At the moment neither day nor night
applies to this fluttery landscape.
Parked cars at a roadside café
shine with that wet metal shine
we’d like to impose on each other
to restore our flagging fortunes.
The rainbow fades for a minute
or two, then recurs in greater pomp.
It embodies a certain bombast,
illuminating excess ions,
but isn’t political enough
to critique the way we’d parse
a gravel pit or housing project.

Remember the double rainbow
over the huge open copper mine
near Tucson, where a gleaming braid
of railroad caught all the colors?
Wilton offers a homier scene,
the rainbow masking the indifference
of lightning raking the distance.
Let’s drive as deliberately
as believers on a pilgrimage,
and maybe our cat will greet us
with a hint of primal emotions
that like this prismatic rainbow
offers the subtleties we need.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Of the Fungi

You ask why mushrooms prefer
gloom with a biblical slump.
You wonder why their expressions
affix in such gaudy sculptures,
why they dance so motionless
on their single pseudopods.

All their plotting is underground—
cilia wired to the dynamo
that rotates the planet and sparks
dreams to penetrate the cramped
lair of the universal brain.

No use measuring yourself
against the cup or cusps of meat
that yield inevitable spores
to autumn’s tawny curlicues.
No point trying to empathize
with such a porous intellect.

My ornate language deployed
on such a humble outcropping
should satisfy your thirst for
a New York brand of intellect
dancing out of the Depression
to crush Paris, London, Rome
under tonnage of abstraction.

But instead of returning to books
you step further into the forest
and ask why some mushrooms sport
bruise-red caps while others
dim with potato-tinge, and some
accessorize with peeling shingles.

And what about coral fungi
and giant edible puffballs
cowering like frightened puppies?
What of the boletus, lacking gills?
What of those toxins brimming
on the tip of the cosmic tongue?                                     
I can’t resolve this nether world
for you, but I can brace myself
against its earthen deployment,
maintaining a thoughtful pose
until the evening deepens enough
to moot your interrogation.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


There must be a collective noun
for hawk-watchers on a mountain.
Drove? Paddling? Sloth? Bask? Clowder?
Mostly men in late middle age,
beards and baseball caps, sporting
binoculars and spotting scopes
worth more than my house. We note
their focus, their fixation on dots
barely discernible from cloud
above the gloomy neighboring peak.

You’re impressed that they believe
that at such terrible distance
they can sort broad-shouldered
from red-tail hawk. You admit
you can hardly tell a hawk from
a handsaw, but we agree that
effete literary allusions
have no place amid the krummholz
and exposed granite ledge,
no currency with hawk-watchers
guzzling bottled water and gazing
into the misty ephemera
to mark their count on the board.

I’m surprised to see osprey
listed among the aeronauts
counted for the sake of counting.
You’re startled to note peregrines
among the various raptors,
since you thought them European.
We’re all friends in the bird-world,
fellow travelers in the blue.
That blue today is cloud-marbled
with an elegant texture absorbing
the long arcs of flight. The shadows
cast by the clouds shuffle across
the wooded landscape below us.     

We agree that even combined
our eyesight wouldn’t allow us
to join the count. Eleven hundred
birds so far this season, each
a construction so elaborate
nothing human can approach it,
our most agile acts of intellect
still falling well short of flight.