augury doggerel

Friday, October 13, 2006


Prof. dr hab. Jarosław Buszko at Nicolaus Copernicus University has kindly identified them for me. They're not the caterpillars of lovely butterflies, but the larvae of March flies (Bibionidae), and I am doomed. No, he says that, if they are very abundant, the larvae can damage the roots of herbaceous plants. I believe I will risk some damage and let them live.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


On a corner where six lanes of loud cross-town traffic and two tram lines meet the traffic jam between the train station and the airport, where cranes and excavators put up the city's largest shopping mall, one corner is dark with old chestnuts. Concrete slabs over part of the ground form a small parking lot, but the lot lies empty. Nothing profitable is done, and so I wonder what sort of land dispute could prevent this plot from becoming a gas station, a car wash, a drive-through chicken restaurant. But here it is on old maps, 1941, 1914, 1908, 1899, 1898, 1807, Alte Kathol. Friedhof or Kath Fdhf or just a few inked crosses. Not one stone remains, but the chestnuts mark the boundaries of the lot and form a double row up the center, where folk must have walked slowly and then stood.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


The business pages all say one in ten where I work will be eliminated. Two legions of us. We will know who Tuesday night, Wednesday morning.

Friday, September 01, 2006


On the way home, tall "Zeppelin" cranes swing over a worksite and a row of "Junkers" water heaters fill the window of a plumbing supply shop. In the garden at home, I dig up broken glass, broken brick, and hear people speak German in the street. I feel exactly like September 1st.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

She Loves Me...

If you were to count the whorls of flowerets on the head of a sunflower — but you wouldn't. I wouldn't. Not now.

But if at another time we counted, sunwise and widdershins, the leftwise and rightwise whorls of yellow flowerets.

While the bees walked around.

We would count fifty-five this way and thirty-four the other, or eighty-nine this way and fifty-five the other, or some other consecutive pair of integers in the series 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181, 6765, 10946, …

This is because the first sunflower was carved and cast by Leonardo da Pisa, Leonardo Pisano, Leonardo Bigollo, Leonardo Fibonacci, a certain 13th century Italian florist and tinkerer. Fibonacci, it is supposed, must have been the son of a man named Bonacci. Or the son of good fortune.

If Fibonacci was the son of a man named Bonacci and if Fibonacci had had a son in turn, the son's son might have been called Fifibonacci, the son of the son of Bonacci, or simple Fifi, for children are cruel, and the series might have ended right there.

By Henry Gibson.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Looking Up

Sunflowers reduce me: I am a common pest among the stalks. Bumblebees that bow other flowers walk in twos and threes around the yellow face of a sunflower. I stand beneath one hanging head and watch a bumble work the circle. In up to its thighs, dusty as a miller's pony, grazing in summer, it kicks up yellow pollen that drifts down into my eyes.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I'll be back when my garden grows.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

We follow the high sound of an owl to the woods, then just see it float down a dark hollow. Then cracks in the dark, something stepping ahead. We chase down the path, farther down the hollow, and hear the rush of hooves through leaves.

When we stop, we are down in the dark and a shape is above us on the crest of the slope, a standing silhouette, a snout, and then gone.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My enemies are worms, cool days, and most of all woodchucks.

Monday, April 17, 2006

On Easter, after time with the family, I dig in the garden, tend flowers, sew seeds, but no one would mistake me for a gardener. Our plot teems with mold and ladybirds, ladybirds. Snails, two copulating in my palm. And broken bricks and broken glass, wire and bone, a chipped ink bottle. The long lower jaw of something, a something with long teeth pointed like thorns. Where I shovel through a tumble of orange vertebrae and long bones, we put two box plants in and christen them Sparky and Fluffy.