In a sense, Thoreau was a homebody

Should i be doing something more valiant with my free time other than sitting in my chair reading all day, occasionally succumbing to a cat nap.

Reading-wise, i’ve been very gymnastic, bouncing between Ovid’s Metamorphoses (the Penguin Classics translation) and Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid, as well as Poetry 180, an anthology put together by Billy Collins, and re-reading Great Expectations in an exquisite and sparkly edition put out by Chiltern Publishing (pictured below).

I recently read Henry Thoreau’s Walden and was enamored not really by his lambasting of conformity and his boasts of individuality, but by his exhaustive accounts of certain features of the forest where he lived, most notably Walden Pond, unashamedly leaving no detail unmentioned. Eg., he describes its color through the seasons and different weather conditions, its aquatic life, its dimensions, how townspeople have used it, how it came to be developed and who once resided in the vicinity.

I had the thought of Thoreau as a writer who is anchored to place, as opposed to someone like Allen Ginsburg, whom I admire and whose life and writing were busy with near-constant and often dizzying movement, with rarely a moment of stillness, with the exception of spiritual interludes, such as Sunflower Sutra, or laments like Kaddish.

Zoning anomaly

A freight train blows its hard horn (bright horn?) this morning.

I live in the suburbs and I can hear it — me and my cat.

There are tracks running through this town, and from time to time, rail crossings you might encounter unexpectedly, where you have to sit at the red light and wait for the endless line of rail cars.

The standard motor vehicles make just as much noise, anyway. I hear them like static on the receiving end of a phone. Not to mention their smoke.

Then there’s my retired neighbor with his generator that he uses for his pressure washer to clean his yard, where he also has a hot tub, along with a fluorescent blue bug zapper and a flatscreen, as well as a wife who does Zumba.

Beyond the ordinary

(Setting: near a large horizontal window at a gala)

Both stood and watched the window like a screen.

Birds flew by to Chopin’s salon-friendly Nocturnes.

The woman, holding champagne, smiled and beamed.

Her burgeoning beau was charmed and stood close.

They were having a Hollywood moment!

The birds, like fish in a bowl, circled in groups,

rose like ocean waves then dipped back down

and raced fiercely across the manicured landscape.

The man and woman looked into each other’s eyes,

smiled warmly and returned their gaze to the window.

A jealous suitor sat in the background, transfixed.

For him, Chopin’s piano music had stopped,

for he was attuned to the alarm of the birds.

He was witnessing something beyond ordinary.

Trees as innocent bystanders

I heard the choppy sound of a low-flying helicopter lingering nearby this morning at 7:30 for many minutes. Finally, I looked out my window, and all I could see was a sky that was admiral blue and a faded moon, full and hovering over the dome-shaped crown of a towering green tree. I peered through the leaves and branches, eagerly searching for a clue, for on the other side was a reality that differed from the one I was experiencing. This was apparent when a dove shot into the sky from behind the tree, gained altitude and vanished.

Past middle age

I did not know: The Bird Man is a motorcyclist!

Each day in his yard, pouring out fresh water for his feathered visitors, he hobbles to complete this daily task. And now, here he is, in usual T-shirt and sagging, beat-up denim, perched on the seat of a Harley — its engine choking and rumbling on a cool September morning.

It all makes sense, too — his hobble and the Harley and everything else. It all dovetails seamlessly.

Fly, Bird Man, fly,! For the migration season is upon us!