by Karl Habegger
January 19th, 2018

What is this that wafts up to me like the breath of a newborn calf
Like the breath of a she-goat rummaging through the garbage
The garbage of one hundred Londoners
Londoners on their porch
On their porch, singing out "Hark!"
"Harkin to me ye milkmen, ye minstrels, ye women-strels
Women-strels out looking for minstrels
Minstrels bereft of purpose
Bereft of desire
Bereft of pants
Harkin unto me"

Look now!
Behold what wafts up to me like the noble gases
Argon, Turgon, gorgon and so forth
What does waft up, bearing the heavy wings of the butterfly?
Hearken unto me ye butterflies
You base clowns of the sky
Flapping about with your colorful, buffoonish, oversized red shoes
Mucking about
Gathering the pollen of the ages on your legs
Pollon from the daisy
From the honeysuckle
From the ox-bottom
Golden, gilded, life-giving pollen
Leave some for the bees ye tiny, unbelievable sky-flappers
Why do you wave your minuscule limbs at me?
Why wave you with the jerkiness of a small sudden movement?

How alike is a butterfly to a giraffe?
What with poetry being non-interactive I can only assume the answer is "not very"
Then revise the question do I and say
"How unlike is a butterfly to a giraffe?"
Again, assumptions abound
Abound do they about the answers coming from the reader
The poetry consumer - Nay! The Listener
Poetry consumer makes the transaction sound cheap
"Very much unlike!" says the Listener
The listener overflowing with wisdom
Wisdom gained during all that excellent listening about butterflies
And wisdom demonstrating prior knowledge
About the nature of giraffes

But, lo
Have we yet established what was wafting? No!?
Then I say unto you "let us start over"

What is this that wafts up to me like the breath of a newborn calf
Could it be the smell of baking bread?
Could it be the odor of an overripe cantaloupe?
Vast sun-kissed cantaloupe
Sitting in the sun glistening, waiting
Waiting for children
Fast, violent children to come kicking
Kicking the cantaloupe like a soccer ball
Delightful children, with feet covered in the goo of a cantaloupe, overripe
Speak now ye children and bring your wisdom
Your wisdom of four years, of seven years
Perhaps of twelve years
Your wisdom that says "hey, can I have a snack?"
As long as you do not ruin your dinner

Your dinner, Ah!
Dinner with aromas wafting up
Wafting up like the winds bearing up leaves
Leaves of long-dead trees
Piled rotting on the forest floor
A deep-dug well of life, in death
Up rises the beetle from your decay
Up rises the various fungi from your death
Bringing new life to the forests
Forests full of life and death
The bear eats the deer, the deer eat the trees
This is a crazy place

It has certainly been hard
Hard to establish what is wafting
Wafting up
I guess I'm going to go with
"a breeze, probably"
I've had my suspicions
Suspicions from the beginning
that this was the case