“Among the graffiti one illuminated name: yours”

– Basho


Poised in beauty at the woozy edge

of this drunken swamp,

a mile deep into woods


like an enchanted pilgrim silently

climbing the ambrosial pathway

to heaven’s gate,


you startle me

with your earnest meditation,

oh sweet Buddhist orchid,


oh soft demented flora,

oh silent saint of contemplation,

oh sweet honey flower


of woodland mystery. I come upon you

growing here in this heap

of leaves and rotting humus


like a floral spit of liquid sculpture

rising elegantly

from the omphalos of dirt.


You remind me of my wife

as she ascended the stairway

of her youth


into the bridal registry

of her womanhood,

a stem of buds awakening her,


some painted white and purple,

a cough of feathers inside her,

a vase of flowers.


You remind me

of myself as I have risen

lonesome and flummoxed


in the drunkenness of my evenings,

worry and woe twisted

tight around my temples


as if I am still the bewildered groom

approaching my lover

with vanishing at my core,


something panicked and hopeful

inside my belly,

a graft of flying birds.


You remind me

of an altar of sylphs,

colorful spirits of the air


promising not security, not seduction,

nothing at all except for

being, expanding


And erupting

from your saint stem,

three pink-and-white


orchid birds – I see them –

freeing themselves

in lopsided


emancipated flight,

as if enflaming themselves

up through the squalid air


in majesty, from the woven collar

of each sunburst axil,

each cradle of becoming,


as if the body, ours,


like an orchid stem


with hunger, with vanishing,

could actually

bloom and exhale


winged beings,

three-bird orchids –

me you and us


from the aroused

unfolding of its



right here at the edge of a swamp

in the woods,

just because.



Ken Meisel


Ken is a poet and psychotherapist and a 2013 Kresge Arts Literary Fellow, a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of several books of poetry, the most recent being Scrap Metal Mantra Poems: (Main Street Rag Press, 2013). He has been published in magazines such as Rattle, San Pedro River Review, Common Ground, Cream City Review and Boxcar Review.

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