“Rocky Narrows (Carolyn’s Curse)*" by Jess Levens

*This poem references Plaint of the Poet in an Ignorant Age, by Carolyn Kizer (1959).


On a late summer morning, I ventured

into Rocky Narrows as the sun peaked

the horizon. Flora’s cool darkening

crowded the trail, and deeper, I pushed.


In the shade, dewy ferns overreached to

deposit deer ticks onto my tall socks—

stopping to sweep them away, a bird I’ve

never heard squawked a song from the treetops.


It was then I thought of dear Ms. Kizer—

slinking about in a jazzy housecoat,

perplexed and sucking on a green olive—

trying to wake those dozing metaphors.


And I would I were a botany-boy

or a bug-boy with a backpack full of

books, but no. I am, at thirty-nine, a

poetry-man with little time to learn.


So I forgot the no-bird singing in

the no-name tree and stomped my way down the

path, scaring squirrels and kicking pine cones—

bruising my arches on paunchy acorns.




A link to an audio recording of Plaint of the Poet in an Ignorant Age by Carolyn Kizer - https://t.co/tFqQGBxIak?ssr=true