, The

Next Level



Forgetting wariness allows friendliness,
warlike defenses fall:
that is the weak-link.
The higher animals [all of them],
move beyond the fight, the flight,
to the friendship, organic addition —
the next level;

not robotic, but conscious decision;
branches removed from
poriferan clades,
Is befriending strangers defining,
like having prominent chins ?
Yes, even connections with contraptions:
being human.

The whirring machines like tail-wagging dogs,
no judgment or demands.
Thus, some will become
Although one may decompose off-grid,
mother is there at birth.
The essentiality of language
beckons loners

hence from the dark shadows of the wield
to lightsome sward, where most
take it to the next
Beyond the hearty handshakes of brothers,
to a union of auras
in beaded light-years spun like cotton webs:
awe from laced hands.

Eros is the losing of one’s mind,
level by next level;
from limbs conjoined to
the kiss,
and even closer: [CENSORED], the goal
being — one human being:
subtraction through addition; questioning
entry level

compared to subsequent levels ventured:
social evolution,
family to clans,
of lonely people seeking others
reflecting back their shadows,
heartening each to brave the next level —
not always up.


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The French horns drone beneath
the sun’s high notes dappled through the oaks.
The orchestral argument enters
after the morning dew
fades in strings and the mockingbird
skitters the grass like a dinosaur.

Bassoons accompany duck
walks comic along the lakeside,
the allegro cadence of water birds
splashing in shimmer,
as glissando waves slide
through octaves about the watershed.

Drums of woodpeckers distantly echo,
stabbing at the score.
The woodwind owls accompany
the staccato of thrashers.
The soaring piccolo hawk cries
and crow caws end the scherzo.

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Seeking Sunken Treasure


Millions of species to be unimmersed:
catalogues at the bottom of the sea seen,
and just above, mesophotic—a twilight zone,
so to speak: lairs of fish in the layers,
crush of pressure less toward the shimmer
of the daystar that hangs above the swimmers.

Satellites swing secret in circular sway;
the ocean is as alien as distant moons.

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The elephant seal


Version | Jessica Kendall-Bar

naps in a corkscrew,
a dark drift that deepens,
slow-wave gliding:
a mammal diving
with hemispheres asleep;
rises for a breath of blue—
a shift for relevant teal.

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No. 38 : CCLXXXIII Plate


Version | “Yellow Shank” [1836] John Audubon

The yellow shank stands
on a grassy shore Carolinian;
studies shapes Linnean
past parallels that step a glassy lake.

Moss plumbs perpendicular
to the angles of gloss and bird
that soon will stalk to the edge and stir.

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The Exception

The eagle flies on Friday.
It’s pay day pronounced
rhythm & blues, when
hypnotic percussion grips
the spirit lifted by the wind.

The airbrakes sigh in depot;
the door folds back: Monday storm.
Climb over the humpback norm,
backdrop snare brushes slide-slapping slow.

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Ocean Fire


The rainbow fish above coral red
in the crystal-green ocean
exist in the twisted sun breaking
through the changeable surface.

The rays reflect the ocean palette
from ancient gliding jewels,
the acrylics and watercolors
brightly flashing underneath.

The charcoal sharks and black pastel rays
blend into the ink-fathomed
canvass past the limit of sun.

The slipcoat spines of globefish
spread like silver stars in the nightsky,
cold above the bleeding kiln,
orange like kumadori clownfish
weaving through cornflower mop strands swaying to the ocean song.

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