Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Kit Kelen - for ataraxia #1 - it's not so hard to grow a forest

it's not so hard to grow a forest

best to go away for a bit
of course this might not work in the city
but most of the world isn't
and there's no need to hang around there
better to get out and breathe some fresh air

you'll appreciate the bus when you're back
it's not so hard to grow a forest
our ancestors before all did
they couldn't help it really
the forest was there and so were they
and everybody grew
it was the forest from which they arose

and the forest kept them on their toes
they were all buried there
sooner or later, a long time ago
those ancestors – they filled up the forest with gruesome stories
but they were the most gruesome creature by far

cunning they were, and subtle and cruel
and loving and light
wonder was full of them

it's not so hard to be in the forest
everyone up from the ants is there
(I only mention the visible world)

there is a risk of being eaten of course
how else can anyone get a feed?

everyone climbs over your roof
possums scrap down from the branches
and you are a roof to some others
who invited them, you'll say

but really it's easy to grow in a forest
everyone else is pointing up
clouds touch now and then

in a forest all sorts of tangents and arcs
plots and tracks and lines of flight
traps and ways to get around

we're easily the most scary thing there
watch out trees!
watch out creatures!
watch out whatever we call a weed!

you see how the forest goes

some people think to call it a system
that's a crude excuse for observation

there's a lot of watching in a forest
for all the moving parts

even the ones who won't walk
sway a little
the ones with wings
are all talk

never a moment still
whisper breezes
sleep in the heat

and if I cast a shadow
then I have struck the sun

you'd like to live there
have it even crept about

closer and closer in the creatures
till you're one of them

swallow a forest
be tendril too
then you can reach for the light

you'll notice fur and appetite
low growl when you're supposed

and garden that we feed on
tricked from nature, sky

there's a risk you might take it all for granted
that's often how things are lost

you just go to another planet
and see how you get on from scratch

no here on Earth, just pop out for an afternoon
come home and the forest is back

I think this could happen in the city too
on a very long afternoon

how dull the blade of otherwise
when fire's the best tried trick

no one sees the planet turning
no one has an idea why

not so hard to grow a forest
when you've been living there

wisely world
this is the way

go gentler gentler
with yourself
and you'll be gone
one day


  1. Firstly, let me say that “ataraxia” is a fabulous title for the section (or even a whole book - sounds like you might have enough material). My only NY’s resolution is to try and approach that state from time to time (or at least have less of its opposite). I am something of a minimalist (I tend towards the Dickinsonian rather than Whitmanian) and I suspect you’re more of a Whitmanian so reject my suggestions without a second thought if they don’t fit your aesthetic. I like this poem a lot (and how it fits the overall theme too), but I'd tighten it up a bit for more immediate impact and a less prosaic feel. For example, first stanza I’d remove “of course”, “but”, “and”, “better to”, and “some”.

    Second stanza I’d remove “before all”, “really”, “and”

    etc throughout - so wherever you can ditch a conjunction or adverb I’d ditch it. Also I’d remove all exclamation marks (just my personal preference - I don’t like them - I feel the reader can add them mentally if they’re warranted and they’re implicit already where you have them (“Watch out” is exclamation enough). Last stanza is masterful, but I’d just take out the and in “and you’ll be gone”.

  2. I find I always draft with lots of continuatives that are generally shed later ... I think that's because continuatives help you to continue drafting

    and yes - minimal punctuation is my preference

    not sure about the ending

    and yes
    ataraxia is a book concept