A City Girl In The Country 1996

A City Girl In The Country


During winter I become an excellent cook.

I sit a lot and stand and look

At lake and forest that surround

The house on sides and front, the sound

Of birds calmed down somewhat,

As if they shared a counterplot

And changed their visit-timbre because

Ducks and geese have flown away.

The wagtail’s winter pause

Has taken him to Egypt.  Now it’s peace

That takes the air.  I walk

Much more without the need

To look in shops.  I wear my tweed,

My well-worn tweed, as if it were

High fashion.  In the winter

It is I who see an elk or deer

Before the hunters of next year;

I who get the benefit, burning up the calories

By walking through the snow to fetch

The post in minus two degrees;

I who never ‘kvetch’*

About the cold, dark living deep inside a forest

More than compensated by

A rose that never saw a florist,

Plums that I saw multiply,

Light that’s guaranteed to start

Increasing just when winter’s heart is coldest.

Here I learn to be alone – to face ennui,

The power cuts, the threat that lightening

Brings direct to my existence –

Without asking for assistance,

Keeping in a large-ish stock

Of matches, paper, wood and candles;

Knowing that to blow the rock can make a well;

Leaving on the radio to keep out vandals

When I go, will work quite well.

Everything in miniature:

Death, when summer-folk kill flies and gnats;

Love, each time I watch the cat’s

Abilities: clearing heights, breadths where I gasp;

Survival, when I’ve rescued creature from his grasp;

Cities blurred, just name and word,

Their essence shallows by the nearness

To an earth my ear has heard.


*kvetch Yiddish for ‘complain’.


A City Girl In The Country 10.19 .1996

Circling Round Nature; Swedish Book;

Arlene Corwin






A Cat Is A Most Polite Animal 1995

A Cat Is A Most Polite Animal


There he lies at the foot of my bed.

Here I sit as I write at its head:

Papers strewn, bits here, scraps there.

He never crinkles, wrinkles, tears,

Only getting, every now and then

An urge to lunge… at

Flies in summer, whizzing gnats.

He never crushes objects near, it being clear

Cats are polite and delicate –

Tasteful and the perfect gymnast:

Olga Corbut of the bed.

I ought to tap my deeper thoughts –

The ones with bolts – the ones with nuts.

It’s reddening that one can only

Talk of cats.

He’s just a cat!

But I am filled with admiration.

Not just wonder: admiration!

I admire you, oh cat – respect you!

And this feeling makes me fuller, nicer –

All in all, enhancing slices [of a life],

By thimblefuls.

What do you think of that, oh cat?

You don’t care.

That’s what’s so nice.

My life’s enhanced.  You dream of mice.


A Cat Is A Most Polite Animal .9.14 .1995

Circling Round Nature; Cat Book;

Arlene Corwin

A Lesson From watching & Listening 2004

A Lesson From Watching & Listening

A cockatiel, rescued outside

In a nearby Swedish wood

Where he could never haved survived the cold,

Pried, somehow by neighbor x,

A crippled leg potentially his death-knoll;

Offered to us, we

Immediately called him Toby

For no reason I can think of.


Joining two more in the cage,

He gains advantage (I have read)

Singing long, long bars

He’s learned somewhere –

Golden notes to dodge a fight,

To make the bully birds take flight

And seek another lair.


The next time someone picks on me,

I’ll sing a long, long melody.

Stay in the room and face my foe.

If I’ve been wronged

I’ll sing my territory song,

The longest, sweetest song I know,

And see just what I win.


A Lesson From Watching & Listening 6.13.2004

Circling Round Nature; Vaguely About Music;

Arlene Corwin




Winter Surprised Us 2002

Winter Surprised Us


Winter surprised us this mild October.

Just when I’d praised an October so sober.

Eighteenth October and snow started lightly,

Thinly – but whitely.  By night we

Were covered when you’d just predicted

No winter at all,

A long, long, long fall –

And lo, winter beauty!

A plow does its duty.

Trees haven’t even shed all of their leaves

Which, snow-driven leaf,

Will freeze green in form.

Mean or indifferent: a deviant norm.

October’s too soon, too darned premature;

Caricature of what winter should be,

When and how.  As for me,

I’ll just put on one more layer, more heat;

Eat more meat:

All that adapts.

I’ll vocalize more,

Use store of potential in and around;

Hope that it’s not one more sign of abuse,

Product of industry’s chilling excuse.

Snow in October astounds and confounds.

Snow in October feels downright perverse,

But sooner than later one’s forced not to curse,

But sign truce with the pines and the firs and the spruce.

The end of confusion is peace.


Winter Surprised Us 10.19.2002

Circling Round Nature; Our Times, Our Culture;

Arlene Corwin

Work In Progress: Gardening The Forest 2006 2014

Work In Progress: Gardening The Forest


I garden the forest.

Walking everywhere – like Johnny Appleseed –

I keep my excellent Swedish

Clippers at my side,

And when I eye a roadside tree

With branch too low, so’s I can see,

I make the lower branches go.

I prune and clear selectively,

Clip high as I can reach, which

Being five foot one

And using muscle of the female kind,

Is always kind to undergrowth;

Seduced by ‘further’,

Blazing paths that never were

So light can filter through.

It wants for sun.

It makes for light.

The woods and me are one;

But I can’t tell a soul.

Wandering on until de-celeration

Starts to take me over,

Signs I’ve learned to recognize

When fervor starts to waver

And observer me says “Rest!”

Works in progress never cease –

It is a forest,

After all.


Work In Progress: Gardening The Forest 11.28.2006 revised 1.18.2014

Circling Round Nature;

Arlene Corwin

Leaving Two-Thirteen Behind 2013

  Leaving Two-Thirteen Behind
Just behind: two-thirteen.
Hard to put your finger on
The grieving; shorter years;
The cloths of fate.
Thieving years (theft more the word)
Fears caving in,
But fears of dying; Merde!
Closer to the grave.
How much did one achieve,
The question.  Peeved
In some unconscious way,
Un-livedout dreams corrosive,
One was passive, much too passive,
On the eve of leaving,
Threshold weaving two-thirteen
Into a two-fourteen, waving goodbye
With fireworks and resolutions,
Thinning bones and air pollution.
A coming into being. 
Leaving Two-Thirteen Behind 12.28.2013
Birth, Death & In Between II; Circling Round Nature; Circling Round Reality; Circling Round Time II;2
Arlene Corwin

Waiting for April 2013

Waiting For April


Waiting for April:

A friend waits for the months to turn,

Return to April.

Mind/heart burning

For early darks and chill to go;

The tendril more than slender wisp,

And hints of warmer winds,

The longer light, its lengthy rays

With birds from other lands preparing

Wings not yet a-nesting….

Signs attesting to the spring.

Friend waits, awaits,

The fourth


And its thirtieth

And final day

To turn, voilá

To May!


Waiting For April 2.3.2013

Swedish Book; Circling Round Nature;

Arlene Corwin

Tendency 2013


Can one get rid of tendencies?

I don’t think so.

Fat will sit

Despite the twist

Of catalyst and time.

Shut out habits, change your shape,

Work out till you’re eighty-eight;

Stop three months, the tendency

To mal-placed weight will reappear,

Ascendant as your natal star,

That fat formation in your rear,

On hip, neck, back –

Back with vengeance!

Can one burn the seed,

The latency, the almost-need?

I don’t think so.  Damn!

But then, if that is who I am,

Then that is who I am.

Not damn.  Hurrah!

Tendency 6.8.2000 (revised 10.7.2013)

Circling Round Woman; Circling Round Nature; Nature In & Of Reality;

Arlene Corwin

Catastrophes Today 2013

Catastrophes Today

Skin on my nose


Five hundred drowned at once.

Escaping, naturally, en masse

From Libya to Italy.


A father locked his children in a house

And burned it down.

What parent kills his child?

I cannot kill a mouse.

And yet, my mouth is not agape.

My eyes are dry. I’ve smiled.

Ghost-ghastly, grizzly trials

Existing everyday

Have found heart pumping normally,

The mind-door locked.

A cold detachéd grief finds home

In something inorganic when

The coral reef disintegrates,

Pink decomposing ten times sooner

Than it should have in ten million years.


Catastrophes Today 10.4.2013

Our Times, Our Culture II; Circling Round Nature;

Arlene Corwin


Climate Crisis 2013

Climate Crisis

To change the mindset

Of a planet?

We, the people of the planet


Study children in a class:

Do children grasp

En masse

The same way,

Same day, or at all?


A lasting harmony,

A commonality, a unity is only

Foreplay to disorder;

Froth, faith, myth; youth-grounded truth:

It can’t endure.

Crisis means a danger time,

A turning point,

A critical  catas…disas-trophe;

A time to worry, hurry, but

We’d rather dither,

Give way to, let’s say, to

Comforts of the moment

In denial

And postponement.

A crisis trying to work out,

A plummet, crying, climbing,

In its paradox, to climax;

Earthquake, drought, the flood, typhoon:

No doubt,

Conditions fraught with climate –

And our ruin.

Climate Crisis 9.30.2013

Circling Round Nature; Our Times, Our Culture II;

Arlene Corwin

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