John Popielaski


I bought a little land on which to practice
living three or four weeks at a time
without electric power, to accept
some limitations and be nothing
but a point of light in darkness,
vanishing when what I needed
light for had been done. There is no
difference, I suppose. Beholden
to incinerated coal
or alkaline is nonetheless
beholden. Go back farther
and rely on firelight not generated
by a lighter or a match
and you are closer to escaping
the contemporary tendency
to charge you with pretending
to be someone you are not.
I’m still dependent on the match,
but, in the absence of a tap,
I take my buckets to the brook
and lay them in a pool
where small trout congregate
beneath the water striders
who defy the pull.
Acquaintances who’ve visited
suggest I dam the way
and use a pump and generator
for the uptake to eliminate
the slight barbarity
of going to the water
as opposed to making it
shift course and come to me.
I nod and do not bother
to explain I want to simplify
or understand up close at least
how infrastructure blots out
something elemental in our lives
and distances necessity,
grants too much ease.