Nolo Segundo

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 [2020] and Of Ether and Earth [2021]. 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.

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