Nolo Segundo, pen name of L.J. Carber, 75, in his 8th decade became a published poet in over 70 online/in print literary journals/anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Romania, India, and in 2 trade book collections: The Enormity of Existence  and Of Ether and Earth . Recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2022, he’s a retired teacher [America, Japan, Taiwan, Cambodia] who’s been married 42 years to a smart and beautiful Taiwanese woman.
On Finding A Dead Deer In My Backyard
I saw them a few weeks ago. My wife called me, something urgent-- so I left the computer and went to see what so excited her. Three deer, 3 young deer meandering around our ¼ acre backyard. They look thin, she said-- I agreed (not saying it was not a good sign with winter coming near). We enjoyed watching them through our plate glass door, their casual grace, that elegance of walk deer have when unafraid. They were special, even more than the occasional cardinal alighting in our yard like a breathing ruby with wings-- so we stayed as still as possible. I told her that deer can only see what moves, so we held ourselves tight like insensate statues. Two of these white-tailed beauties grazed daintily on the ground but the third was drawn to our giant holly tree, resplendent with its myriad red berries, like necklaces thrown capricious. I was concerned-- something alarming about even deer drawn like the proverbial moth-- safe, I wondered, for deer or tree? The triplets soon left our yard, as casually as they had come, and a week went by-- then one day a single deer came back. I say back because she went straight for the holly tree, and I banged on the plate glass door and yelled as fierce as an old man can yell to scare off the now unwanted intruder, for something told me the holly tree would be death to the deer. She fled, but the next day came back again, again alone, and again with eyes only for that tree, an Eve that could not say no to the forbidden fruit-- or berries or leaves it appears. Again I chased her away, and for a few days saw no return. Then one brisk morning our neighbor called-- he saw what we could not see in the deep green thickness of that holly tree. The doe lay sleeping under its canopy (so death always seems with animals, unlike a human corpse where something is gone), killed it seemed by berries or the leaves of the innocent tree. I called my township-- they said, put the carcass by the street, we’ll send someone to pick it up-- but I couldn’t, or wouldn’t. Not just because I walk with a cane, and am old and unsure how such a moving would be done-- no, no, it was more-- when I saw the deer lying sheltered beneath the tree it loved, the tree it died for, it seemed a sacred place, consecrated-- and I could not bring myself to violate nature’s holy ground. Fortunately I have a neighbor who is not sentimental, and he dragged the dead doe roughly to the curb, and I knew, by its pungent unearthly smell of death, it was the only answer.
A Morning’s Walk
My wife and I walk every morning, a mile or so-- it’s good for us old to walk in the cold, or in the misty rain, it makes less the pain that old age is wont to bring to bodies which once burned bright with youth, though now I wear braces on ankles, braces on knees, and I walk slowly with 2 canes, like an old skier, sans snow, sans mountain. We passed a tree whose leaves had left behind summer’s green and now fall slowly, carefully one by one in their autumnal splendor. My wife stopped me-- listen she said-- but I heard nothing—hush!, stand still, she said, and I tried hard to hear the mystery…. Finally I asked her, knowing my hearing less than my wife’s (too many rock concerts in my heedless youth), what we listen for? She looked up at my old head, and smiled-- only she could hear the sound each leaf made as it rippled the air in falling to the ground.
The Old Tracks
In my town and only 90 feet from my house Run a pair of old tracks, Railroad tracks older Than my house, even Older than me, and I Am become old, very, Very old, like a tree Whose branches Betray it with Every strong wind And fall to ground Leaving less and Less of the tree. I used to walk in Between those Carefully laid Iron rails, stepping On the worn wood Of the old ties as Though they were Made of glass…. I walked the length Of my small town, I walked the world. I walked where Passenger trains Carried lives and Their once warm, Now cold, dreams And I was part of Each life, now gone To ether and mist, And so too my Lonely soul will Ride those rails One bright day. Still, a freight train Comes by once or Even twice a week, And I thrill to hear Its wailing horn as it cries out for a forgotten glory, and the ground still shakes a bit as the old train lumbers slowly by my house and I wait a holy wait For the music of Its rumbling and The cry of its old Heart as a young Engineer pulls the Whistle and sees Not that he is Driving eternity.