Welcome to a selection of truthtable's poems about nature. Oh, by the way -- you and I are part of nature too....

Maybe It Needs a New Starter

Maybe it is the bulb itself that needs to be replaced.
Or, maybe it needs a new starter.
Whatever the cause,
It is flickering again,
That kitchen cylinder of Noble Gas.

And, my wife --- she much prefers
Not to have the light at all.
The on-again, off-again
Bothers her that much.
In truth, visitors are the same,
Commenting with a wince:
“Did you notice there’s something wrong with your light?”

Well, I kind of like some variability in this indoor world,
This universe of manufactured items,
Rolled off the assembly line
Somewhere --- I don’t know where,
Bronxville, Brussels, or Bombay,
Who can tell?
Is something so wrong with a light
That glows with a twilight dimness
Humming, droning, for lazy minutes,
Then flashes white hot brilliance --- and
Then finds contentment yet again with a dull orange glow?

Yes, I suppose it shall have to be replaced.
Ending its life in a landfill somewhere far from home
Or maybe in my own back yard.
But meanwhile, I wonder why no-one but me
Ever seems to wonder why it brightens now?
What causes it to flicker so?
Cosmic rays? Voltage fluctuations?
And, in either case, isn’t this sparkly tiny tube
Quite a rather remarkable little instrument indeed?
Registering either:
The Big Bang that began it all
Summarizing the million little habits of my fellow citizens
As they turn on and off their electric shavers, hair dryers, and stovetops?

It shall have to be replaced, of course, but meanwhile:
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

You Must Remember This
Copyright 2002, truthtable@aol.com

A breeze flutters the leaves of the tulip tree
It seems to me
They wave, they warn,
“Remember us. Remember, that we may come again.
That once again forests of greenery will come to be.”

Under this clear blue sky,
Under this bright yellow sun,
In this verdant surround, I see, nonetheless,
Long lines of grieving skeletons
Wandering the gray-brown dessert
Searching for food, for water,
For the lost way,
The fallen times.
Someone has lost the memo,
Broken the schedule,
Failed the test,
Not met the ROI.

I have drawers of papers,
But what do they mean?
And why are they there?
They seemed so important once.
I have closets of clothes
That no longer fit.
I have machines that would buzz and whirr delightfully
If I could find a place to plug them in.

And, in these dead days of gray on gray,
I must remember, I must tell,
Though few believe,
“Once there were forests here,
Trunk on trunk of thick tall tree,
Leaf and flower, flower and leaf,
Green, green, under a clear blue sky.
We can make it live again.”

Now, so the story goes, the Devil tempted us with knowledge
And we were exiled from Eden into this world.
But, really, who is this Devil, anyway, I wonder?
What if, drunk on half-knowledge, we left voluntarily?
Greedy for the shiniest bauble,
The sparkliest stone,
We forgot that sunset on lake,
Icy creeks, and snow-laden trees,
Are more beautiful than jewelry.

I see them marching, line on line,
Mindlessly miming a pattern, a template,
Aimlessly roaming, but all in formation,
With no information, but under orders, all the same.
The cadence of the stepping,
The drubbling of the drums,
Makes it all seem okay somehow
As row on endless row,
Over the cliff they go.
Blind are they to the leaves of the tulip trees, still green,
Waving their warning; warning with their waving,
Bending, sighing, singing, in the breeze:
“Remember such as these,
When there are no more trees.
Remember such as these,
After the fire and the freeze.”

The New American Dream?

If I could have just one more car
Another house, a golden star.
A subtler wine, a shinier wife --
At last I'd lead that perfect life.

Across long oceans? -- Might be true
Some million Africans long for bread.
Some million; those quaint and hapless few
May swell their hapless bellies instead.

But I'll distract myself awhile
With pretty, paid, if plastic, smile;
Deaden and drown my only soul,
Relentless grab at golden goal.

For that's the way to Paradise:
Manufacture Eden from Earth.
Pennies to pay; the path is worth.
That's the admission; that's the price.

We don't care if the biome stinks.
What care we what the world thinks?
We'll ring the planet with Weapons Grand!
Long may our Plastic Kingdom stand!

Don't they realize how much better off they are now?

The people, true, they may have been in bliss,
Fishing, hunting, laughing all the while,
Greeting each the other with a smile.
But listen to my vision, listen to this,
I see customers, I see consumers, I see cash
A way to keep our profit from a crash.

Let's demonstrate them agribusiness joys,
Export industrial wastes and noise,
I see markets for cigarettes and cow's milk,
You can hardly call it a rip-off, a bilk,
Because they will be so much better off
(If they don't drink themselves to Korsakov).

And yet it sometimes happens in a craze,
These people -- they don't realize their days
Are so much better now than once they were.
They get to smell the smoke and hear the whirr
Smoke camels, watch re-runs, drink Miller Lite
And work in factories under cool flourescent light.


(Appeared as part of The Poetry Exchange's Featured Poet, Spring, 1997)

Gray day wasted while the whippoorwill
Wishes that the slushy city sewers
Had not replaced the only lonely home he knew.
The groggy foggy unfocussed hurly-burly rushing
Of splashing autos on the gray macadam roadways
That gnarl through the neighborhoods
Is vaguely deja vu.
Silhouetted smokestacks shadowly seen,
Limned in gray on gray-green,
Remind the mind how poor people pass the day after day.
Where no home fire hearth lighted cabin
In the winter woods beckons, beacons, hearkens
Heartily a red sunset glow on white snow
For a day's work done.

One hardly knows.

Here, where machine clouds of steam unsentiently sip, sap the soul,
You wonder as the rain water wanders,
Then rushes through the gurgling gutters,
What foul trick man played upon his own brave soul,
To have forsaken all the fiery emotion that makes life great
To sit at desks, to stand in lines, to wait.
Where are the country color and
The rich thick loves hidden
Beneath the inventions, interventions, and pretensions of society?

We wander in our own gray-glass cages
In a lurching kind of mock-precision,
Like the nightmare dream of a psychotic technician.
And the only color the commuter encounters
In his travels to and from,
Is the scarlet and the gold of a raccoon
Too stupid to stay off the highways of modern civilization.

Ah Wilderness!

(Appeared in Peng Poets e-zine, summer 1997)

Ah Wilderness! The very word connotes a joy
A fear, a chill not only from the cold
Lake wind alone but from awakening
Some soul deeply hidden in our bone.

Curse not the thorns of the blackberry;
They keep fruit safe from hands less clever.
Curse not how hard the prey, how wary;
They helped shape the brain that invented forever.

Curse not the cold of the winter's wind unkind
Or the burning hot dry summer's sun.
They invented beautiful raiment through your mind
And taught us the numbers beyond one.

Curse not the changes of climate and season
Unpredictable now and in the future as always
They make us search for patters beyond hope
Ah Wilderness! You are me as seen in evolutions's mirror

The Jewels of November

(Third prize winner in the Chatfield National Poetry contest)

Winter ripped into our neighborhood last night
Gale and pail of rain turned flake by morning
Gutters filled to overflowing; my basement flooded.
And the riot of yesterday's autumn light
Gone as though it never burned its magic riots of red and gold.
All the tallest tulip trees and oaks stand naked now,
Black, bucking wet twigs against the steel gray sky.

Bundled in my leather hat, jacket and gloves,
I walk out to survey the carnage of fallen leaf and broken branch.
The wind still gusts to make my eyes smart and my cheeks burn
Low black clouds swim and swirl.
Somewhere a flag cord bangs against an empty pole.

So off I go through deserted streets of a condo Sunday morning
Into the drear of pale November.
The wind sings a shriller note when the leaves are gone,
The hush is replaced by a whistle.

And, walking down the hill toward the main road
I see beneath the broken canopy the first Jewels of November --
Coral leaves laid in relief against the wet black woods
The amber leaves, the carmine leaves of shrubs
Protected by the barren trunks of their taller cousins.

Beside the road, a head of goldenrod casts against green grass.
A few lonely wood asters, white and an occasional blue.
Hanging from the dead vines, clusters of gold and red.
Before me, the sky breaks for a moment only
And a hawk wheels through a single shaft of sunlight
Rejoicing, so it seems, in the thick cold air,
His outstretched white wing fingers glowing white for a moment.

And so I find, here in this gray and lifeless world
Treasures of color and texture and form -- and music too
For the overflowing brooks are singing quiet giggles
Just as ten black crows careen and crackle through the trees.

I look down and see a broken piece of branch
Bedecked with lichens, the palest possible shade of blue-green.
I bend to pick it up and out of my jacket pocket coins tumble
Tinkling on the black macadam roadway, they splay themselves:
A shiny copper penny, dime, quarter, nickel and a dark penny.
How fine when I was a child to find a few coins like this! How rich!
I knew the different smell and taste of every coin,
My parents' dire warnings not to put them in my mouth
Making the taste so much more exotic and exciting.
Now my money comes to me as a blue paper note
Claiming the check was deposited directly in my account.
How efficient, I note.

Another shaft of sunlight strikes me from the briefly parting clouds
As I retrieve my coins one by one
And remember that today is the New York City marathon.
Phillipides, so the story goes, died after bringing the news
Of a Greek victory back, from exhaustion, so we suppose.
But I wonder: was it simply that his life¹s best work was done?
Or could it even be the sheer clear joy of the news delivered?
Or, the ecstasy of the swinging legs and arms, the hot heart,
The heaving chest -- feeling so alive that pain itself is joy.

The wind is at my back and I wonder what it would feel like
To run today that long race through the windy streets of New York.
But a walk through the woods is enough for me, enough today,
Stopping to watch the hundred precious scenes laid out before me.
I wonder where all these treasures were last week-end
When I walked this same path.
The answer is, of course, that they were drowned in a sea of color
The neon chaos of autumnal carnival showing off.

I turn back toward home now.
Lonely snowflakes hit and actually bounce once off the black road
Before settling down to melt their brief beauty on still warm tar.

The wind is fully furious in my face.
I dream what lunch I might fix once out of this blowing cold
A steaming chicken broth thick with onions, carrots, and peppers.
And I recall a time when I was a senior in college and had the flu;
The medicine the doctor gave me made me worse
And I ended up not eating for three days
But the at-last, ah-ah, taste of the clear broth I savored oh so slowly!
A feast from a magic bullion cube!

And I wonder as I begin the ascent up the long hill toward home,
Whether winter might not be the whirling earth's greatest gift.
What would autumn, full summer, or the tender spring be
Without the deadly in-between, the waiting, the wail, the white.

In a land of endless plenty and eternal life, would we ever see
The jewels of November?

Poems of Anger or Despair
Humorous Poems
Poetry Index

To contact the author: truthtable@aol.com

Last modified: Jan. 6, 2000