C.E. Putnam

Day 640

Unhappily, a Small Room

that is your living
room and the living

room for a very large
family of beavers.

Covering every edge
a pile of leaves.

Each beaver rakes
to make a bed

of its own
gnaws the bark

suckles and rears
to make of the center

a dining room
a new world

between chin
and forepaws

refusing to adjust to
the conditions of the age.

Day 680

The Story of the Leaf

Green energy squirrel tails
cocked up some nut
veins melancholy
loving wooden
and shine
to gradually ash the world.
Your physical
body will reflect
this change: nothing
but dark spots
and clouds
in the photographs.
They were a kind
of energy
a counterpart
to the body
of the leaf
the energy body
that didn’t want
to be a part
of the physical body
died away.
In the distance
a lofty palm in the breeze
scratches against a wall
the last sound of daylight
before the drunken marauders’
nightly efforts to free themselves.
Rough bamboo tumblers
and silk pocket fish shoals
in every direction
dipping our heads
back into the water
again over the water
offering to chase us
with galaxies of sparkling lights
inside a palpitating body.
Within the double is the distinct
belief of the individual
a capable spiritual
essence—the machine
will never fully explain
to a tree, to a leaf.

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C.E. Putnam operates the Putnam Institute for Space Opera Research (P.I.S.O.R.) in Portland, Oregon.