Poems by Lowell Jaeger

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An Awakening

by Lowell Jaeger

From Canary Spring 2015

Lowell lives and writes on the shore of Flathead Lake (the largest freshwater lake in the continental states west of the Mississippi) in the center of the Flathead River Basin.  He spends his summers hiking in the nearby Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park.

It’s quiet as death. Till a renegade wolf in the dark
scents his prey. Dances under starlight and howls
a quarter mile away. Chills the forest
a blacker black. You blink. Listen. Stare.
The pulse of your empty house skips a beat.
In the barn, the horses nicker and kick.

The mare, ready to foal, paces sick
with fear, panting, soaked in sweat.
So you lace your boots and snipe out there
toward the yawning ache of the hungriest
need in you to face whatever prowls
with cleft foot, claws, or Satan’s bark.

Just beyond the fence line you find the track.
Yours are acres the wild wants back.


by Lowell Jaeger

From Canary Summer 2015

Ants do what ants do: hive
in crumbling rocks and cracks, build
villages in my garden wall, frenzy
through daily routine in what looks to me
as rushing to and fro for no
discernable cause — from where I stand,
just now alert to this nation’s invasion
into my own sovereign soils.
                                              A bugle
wails its alarm, calling me to march
to the garden shed, survey the stores
— powders, sprays, bombs —
arm myself against this foreign assault.

In the blast of afternoon heat, the ants
zigzag, lofting bits of leaf and bark,
the queen’s orders relayed —we think—
in chemical codes of one’s antennae wiped
across another’s. Do they suspect me?
Do they see me? How can they comprehend
the impending doom
                                     raining down
from my shaker of Bug-B-Gone,
guaranteed to rid any garden and lawn
of creatures unwanted. The napalm
burns into their polished uniform hides.
Some run, some collapse, some writhe.
I bulldoze their bunker with my shoe,
over-ending stones beneath which lie

nurseries of the unborn, a next generation
assigned to care and feed the future hive, till
my shadow looms overhead,
and I’ve put an end to all of that. Which is natural,
isn’t it? Ants do what ants do.
My species too.

Back Away, Slowly

by Lowell Jaeger

From Canary Summer 2015

A radio news report:
bears invading the suburbs,
foraging for dumpster pizza crusts
instead of wild berries and nuts.

A few neighborhoods brazenly
bait the hairy beasts with table scraps,
snap photos, blog to friends. One
especially enlightened housewife
has evolved to where she swears
she longs to embrace Yogi
eye-to-eye and read his “soul.”

I’m only listening sideways
as I drive, and shiver a bit
to imagine Cindy Cul de Sac
fluttering her eyelids
at the tall dark stranger
who’s ripped apart the bird feeders,
shredded her garbage for morsels of steak.

A bear’s nose provides
a window to his soul, if
he’s got one. He’s seduced
by a putrid carcass bloated with rot, abuzz with flies.
He’s no sentimentalist.
I tremble on a narrow wilderness trail,
traversing blind switchbacks.
He’s no lover of surprise.

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