Saturday, April 28, 2007


Well, she certainly seems to be having fun; but as you can tell from the portrait on the left, the flowers have not yet begun their riot of color, not in our corner of Connecticut. And yet I feel certain that the reds, the blues, the oranges, purples, and even the whites, are about ready to pop: the forsythia have already hung inflammatory banners over the wall, as a warning. May Day is coming. All nature awaits a sign.

Even within me, your humble correspondent, I can feel a surge of sap returning to my limbs from hitherto frozen lakes and unfriendly ground. It is a nice feeling. I find myself walking more, swimming more, writing more, smiling more at strangers. It is the smiling, I think, which feels the best. Life is returning to life. It began in Japan, a few weeks ago.

During the past week, when I haven't been at the gym, or going to job interviews (more about THAT later) I have been spending an awful lot of the time on the porch, laptop on my lap, staring at squirrels, listening to lawn mowers, dreamily attempting to tap out a new poem.


On Thursday night, while visiting a friend in New Haven, we happened to drive past a very ominous, gray Gothic building. On our left is the edifice where the secret, Satanic rites of the Yale Skull and Bones Society are carried out. I have no idea what these rites are, or their relation to the Spring, but now I am aware of where they take place. No knowledge I acquire is ever wasted.

We happened to be discussing writing classes--words in general--what our favorite words were. He told me about an assignment in a college writing course where he had to pick out his favorite words in English and incorporate them into a story. One of the words he chose was brouhaha, which is a pretty hilarious word when you think about it, containing as it does the very seeds of laughter.

As for me, I was kind of caught off guard when he asked me what my favorite words were. I know I should not have been, but perhaps I was distracted by the radio display, shifting gears, or something else in the car. The only two words that immediately occurred to me were adjectives: the words anthropophagic and celestial.

The stars I need not explain. But I have no idea from what chthonic depths the word anthropophagic arose; except that I can remember feeling kind of hungry, and maybe slightly cranky as a result. I do know that the word celestial occurred to me first, which I find rather re-assuring. And it was the one I uttered.


Later, after we said goodbye, and I caught the 11:18pm local back to Stamford, I went back to the white wicker rocker on the porch. I flipped open my laptop, and I began to piece together the evening. I had had a good time.

I don't often seem to talk shop with other writers, no matter how garroulous I appear on the subject here. The word celestial kept ringing in my ears. And the forthcoming brouhaha among the flowers--especially the syllables ha and ha. And suddenly, as I sat sipping a tall glass of orange juice (my nightcap of choice), everything seemed to slip into place in my subconscious: the Spring, the sky, the lawn, the laughter, the squirrels, you and I.

I know it's extremely unusual, but isn't it nice when things work out perfectly?

It certainly is for me.

The Squirrels
For A.T.

They act a lot like we do, in a way.

Once, while I was studying some porn
I had discovered in an old suitcase,
I came across a slightly cracked acorn.
I can remember thinking, “What a place
To store your nuts.” Don’t attics get too warm?
And is an old suitcase the ideal space
For storing nutrients—like nut protein?
No wonder all those squirrels look so lean…

This was my thinking at the time, okay;
I probably had missed my morning nap,
Or something similar. I cannot say
I was delirious. Or curious. The crap
I do—I did—astonishes me today:
I had a dozen lovelies in my lap,
And far from having a hard-on, or stroke,
I ran outside to plant myself an oak.

While nothing very shady was forthcoming,
I lay there, on my stomach, with my spade,
Yawning, pelting birds, and maybe humming—
My other activities all seem to fade
Into oblivion. I am running
Over some details of this escapade:
The time, position of the sun, my age.
To Time alone, I have devoted page—

Page—page—well, I can’t seem to find it.
I’m sorry. It was remarkable—a classic
Piece of metaphysics. I designed it
First to entertain—which is the basic
Premise of this poem. And behind it
Lies no philosophy—no specific
School of thinking that I can remember.
This doesn’t mean those moments I surrender

To retrospection—in my reverie—
The sharper edges of the Past will soften.
My spade does not get duller, although we

Do get dirty in the garden. And, often,
We dig up buried treasures. Do you see
That bloke behind the oak
—the hard to love one
Who could use a slightly closer shave?
That’s you. (I would pull up my pants, and wave.)