The Secret Lives of Things

The Secret Lives of Things

I want to learn from slime molds
How they take the shape
Of tapioca or icicles or pretzels
Pink toothpaste, brown cigars
Sucking nutrients
From rotting leaves and wood
And then become blue crusts
Yellow splotches, tawny curlicues
And vanish.
Their weird diversity and transience
Speak to me of beauty and death.

I want to learn from grasses
Why they root where they do
What they feel, how they breathe
What makes their light-eating leaves,
So fragile when they brush and tickle me,
Spring back when trampled on, endure
Frost, hail, rain
Scorching heat, drought.
They teach me how to suffer and survive.

I want to learn from trees
How they love one another
Nurse one another
Warn one another of danger
Nourish living stumps of felled comrades
And as their branches grow and spread
Don’t steal each other’s light:
Lessons for us humans
Scheming and grasping
In our grubby lives.


Clifford Browder is a writer and retired freelance editor living in New York City.  His published works include two biographies; three New York City memoirs; a critical study of the French Surrealist poet André Breton; and four historical novels set in nineteenth-century New York.  His poetry has appeared in Snake Nation Review, Heliotrope, Pivot, Runes, The Same, Crack the Spine, Forever Journal, GNU Journal, Blue Lake Review, and elsewhere, both online and in print.  He has never owned a car, a television, or a cell phone, and barely tolerates his computer.

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