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Whittle a Safe House in a Noble Tree


It’s a real world

out there, you say.

Fear, as only a parent can feel.

Old man,

your world’s real too,

only it spins inside your head,

teeters and smashes, sloshes

in watery dreams turned hard,

rearranges itself every day —


played in reverse.

Every time, a frame goes missing.

Is it not enough

that I, soon enough, must

negotiate fields in which

land mines smolder

in expectant slumber?

The real world.

We should ask a cook

Who must rinse and chop,

only sample,

never gorge on his master’s menus.

Or a gardener

consumed by multicolored

demands of a dominatrix

who, in turn,

chews on animal skin,

like an Eskimo,

to make for herself

a skinny ensemble

— check out her teeth,

like pits in a corncob —

its a lifetime’s work, truly.

Or a boy with inky hair

suffused with Mediterranean blue.

A refugee or fugitive, you see,

who didn’t see

the real world coming at him.

Purveyors of lentils and onions.

We must ask them too.


is not allowed

in the world of woodpeckers.

It’s all instinct.

Rat-tat-tatting away at noble trees.

They simply know

they’re like us —

let me in, let me in, let me in.

Shattering beaks.

For what reason?

In your opinion,

to whittle a safe house,

but I say,

let us allow ourselves a small

measure of mystery.

Real worlds.

The vise of a halter. Blinkers.

Boil him

down for glue,

he’s eating us into destitution.

The wonderful

world of a child bred to beg and

shall we include,

by your permission,

the world, the real

real world of solitary


Where every day is every day,

a day without end,

a day that eats night

that coughs up another day…

If you mean to strike terror

in my heart, then say it like it is.

Put it thus:

You’ll starve if you don’t

learn how to beg

like a child bred to beg.

You’ll drown

an unnamed refugee,

flight might

become imminent,

better learn how to swim.


if you can’t fly

as woodpeckers can,


just hone the underrated

skill of patience

which comes naturally to donkeys,

known for their virtue,

but not to us.


away at petrified wood.

But I’m told the real world has fireflies too.

Electricity shortages

are of little concern

once you realize

the importance of inner light.

As no doubt,

your servant will tell you.

To the sound of trumpets

and television,

welcome to the real world

of realpolitik where

nothing changes

except soiled silk bedsheets.

While I can, old man,

let me be human.

Where I wait. Where I breathe.

Where I may or may not

learn to beg

like a child bred to beg.

Mine is a real world too.

Farida Haque

James M. Ridgway, Jr. Jeff Suwak Jef Littlejohn WysWoman (Jean Kennerson) Jk Mansi anna breslin Anneyé Blanco Zev E. E. Scott Alighieri@

Multimedia artist, writer, poet. ‘Celebrating other lives, I am a sparrow in the shadow of a rosebush...’