Wild Uncertainties

Wild Uncertainties
Published: Feb 17, 2019
An ongoing poetic dream where everything is happening simultaneously — while improvising against entropy, for guerrilla gardening and about love at a distance. Inspirations for this poem include: 1) The Fibonacci Sequence (see bottom of page for a brief explanation) used as a generator of expanding forms. 2) 'Personalities charted by naming objects.' (see introduction to The Long Poem Anthology, by Michael Ondaatje [1988]. 3) 'An argument with time' — from Robin Blaser's comments on his serial poem, 'The Moth Poem': “Such poems deconstruct meanings and compose a wildness of meaning in which the ‘I’ of the poet is not the centre but a returning and disappearing note.”


Wallpaper by artist Yuken Teruya. [o]


              in the pock-marked park fragments remain of vast forests
           in fading light a scarred bench  a broken fountain  a buried river

        something slips away but he’s still at his modest task: sitting in a warm room
       strategizing against entropy   doesn’t ask why   he just works here 
         crystal winter light prismatic   equilibrium shifting   time slowing down

           the cat is talking to her in a language she doesn’t understand
            while she is trying to follow thoughts the length of a poem
            the poem is a derivative of proportions in nature
           the poem is determined by the form it is describing
         she continues to talk to the cat knowing he doesn’t understand her


    up north in his cabin her flesh adored        she loved the land more than him
  a prisoner of his poverty        subsisting in solitude far from family and friends
 she hated his fantasy of a better life
 now she wanders solitary through the city looking for what’s wild
  beside rivers        ravines and swamps        on native trails        a swan among reeds
   she plants herself beside guerrilla gardeners        her hands deep in earth
     growing food behind camouflaged fences        harvesting hidden orchards
       she delights in trees that blossom everywhere        unnoticed in their ripeness


other moments             other molecules             crystallize             revise themselves              improvise             

  speculate              heckle              act at a distance              bodies of language become

    the language of the body              what the Thunder speaks              we do not hear              what

     we fail to comprehend              rends us              orphaned by our own fixed destinies              as

      Shakespeare knew            the whole much simpler than each complex individual              not

       daring to go out into the wilderness to see what is shaking in the wind              tall grasses

        holding the light in their feathery tips              while rhizomes underground connect to each

       other              not one understanding but several              broken contexts              language

      moving toward misinterpretation              chaotic inflation              before dew dries and mist             

     dissipates              water finds its own level              not always flowing

    in constructed channels              anomalies altering all categories               more than

   four humors              body’s elemental fluids              more than melancholia and phlegm and bile and

  blood              our chosen notational system affecting the results


                                                 facing north                     standing slightly apart                     changing the past

                                        by not forgetting                     drawing with the lightest of brush strokes

                                his Celtic ear listening for her insistent voice                     in the inner house          

                         behind the door                     under the stairs             not lost in the ebb of

                   conversation                     at the blue core                     a certain tone                     with\

              its own music                     a particular tension                     in juxtaposition

          here                     in our own imperfect garden                     where the creek flows

      underground                     where the dogs as big as people arrive with apples in their mouths

  where it rains every day at four o’clock                     where flowers bloom

above the bare branches                     a large green squash hangs from a vine wrapped around

a dead tree               an Ojibwa comes by to interpret                where the chiropractor goes for a walk                his back bent from leaning over his

  work                     where

      the taciturn doctor has heart problems and the barber’s hair is unkempt                     at three in

          the afternoon                     sunlight on a bird’s wing                     on the surface tension of

              water held in the transparent vessel                     the poem writing him

                   more than him writing a poem1                     …and looking at Rome as if into a glass2

                        he lifts the glass and drinks it                      a universe of energy                     including

                               particles with mass and diversity seen only in the sidereal instrument of poetry

                                       measuring smaller galaxies                     with the resonance of radio waves

                                                 obscured by familiar dust motes                     scattered light                     even

                                                           the most intimate                      never completely known        



                     he constructs the poem like a Feynman diagram                     each one an authority on their own text

                  when he reads aloud                     words remember themselves                     poems listen

                to their own inflections                     whispers of other poets                     other                     Others

             a tree made from a paper bag                     inside that paper bag 3                     the ear obedient

             to the syllables                     engaging speech                     where words are least careless

                and least logical                     hearing the breath in the body                     the rhythm of an ex-animal

                   verse conceived with the relevance of the human voice                     dragging his bone over town 4

                                following a line                        already written down in the cells                    his job to put a frame

                      around movements of clouds in early morning light                     the writing as an occasion

                   of reverent familiarity 5                  constantly going to that impossible place                     a dance

                of gratitude                     serious play                     tricky                     improvised                     down

              and dirty                      complex                           intense                           illusive                     full of

               warnings and                     forgetfulness                    traps and maneuvers                     a walk

                 around the world                     letting go of the outline                     only shadows of silhouettes

                    beings pouring in upon the page                     an Irish welcome for each one                     opening

                      the door and inviting in all sentient beings as guests 6                     waking early in the morning

                      when the sky’s transparent blue                       crossed with high thin clouds

                    he wonders                     about the hidden structure of the moment                     small differences

                 in initial conditions                     great differences                     in final phenomena

              when the light hits the tops of the trees and sunflowers turn in that direction

          he’s sitting on his bench sketching the movements of the quotidian

        the ongoing dream                     where everything is happening simultaneously

       in ephemeris time                     his autobiography by other means                     no storyline

       the monk in the morning                       sweeping his wooden island                       all the seasons

         coming to visit him                       eternity in the present only 7

                  atomic memories being formed constantly                      simultaneously now

                   he’s leaving for work as the sun goes down wearing a light on his bike helmet like a lamp on a miner

                       breaking rock in the dark                       a memory machine made of misinterpretation

                          field cancerization                       multiple misunderstandings springing up in the same location

                          at the same time                       recurrent disturbances                       at the site of the incision

                        millions of cells dividing                       copying dna into new cells

                    the imperfect as part of the process                       a natural tendency toward disorder

                inevitable genetic errors                       evolutionary necessity of mutation

             translational velocity                       exuberant cells                       uncertainties



1 Eli Mandel, 2 Dante Alighieri, 3 sculpture by Yuken Teruya, 4 Michael Ondaatje on Buddy Bolden, 5 Dennis Lee, 6 Pema Chodron, 7 Ron Silliman.

Libor Abaci is a historic book on arithmetic by Fibonacci. 1



Nicholas Power fills out the

1   What is your first memory and what does it tell you about your life at that time and your life at this time?

My first memory is of battling giant snakes in a rainforest. I was actually about two years old living in Victoria, B.C. and those may have been worms in a mud puddle. Similar to my own mythologizing today, the colours were bright and the memory is of an adventure.

2   Can you name a handful of artists in your field, or other fields, who have influenced you — who come to mind immediately?

bpNichol, W.G. Sebald (writers), Lisa Keedwell (visual artist), Danny Michel (musician), Clare Coulter (actress).

3   Where did you grow up, and did that place and your experience of it help form your sense about place and the environment in general?

I grew up in Ottawa and the swamp and woods between my house and the Ottawa River and the river itself were and still are very important loci for me. The solitude and sense of acceptance and the light in the woods just across the street from my childhood home are fundamental and talismanic. Neighbourhood beauty is what claims me. Also the sense that this place had been lived in for a long time before the nearby houses were built was ‘known’ by us in our play there.

4   If you were going away on a very long journey and you could only take four books — one poetry, one fiction, one non-fiction, one literary criticism  — what would they be?

The Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus (Rainer Maria Rilke), Coming through Slaughter (Michael Ondaatje), Arctic Dreams (Barry Lopez), The Roland Barthes Reader.

5   What was your most keen interest between the ages of 10 and 12?


6   At one point did you discover your ability with poetry?

The interest has been since high school, the ability about eight years ago.

7   Do you have an ‘engine’ that drives your artistic practice, and if so, can you comment on it?

Getting up early and going outside to watch the clouds, to observe the same part of the neighbourhood again and again in different light. I also free associate using the internet!

8   If you were to meet a person who seriously wants to do work in your field — someone who admires and resonates with the type of work you do, and they clearly have real talent — and they asked you for some general advice, what would that be?

Write as often and as much as you can in as many different ways as you can until you start to hear something that only you can write.

9   Do you have a current question or preoccupation that you could share with us?

I’m trying to understand what the Greeks during Homer’s time understood as the middle voice. “The person in question is neither purely active nor purely passive — this is what we talk about when we say someone is being instructed by or inhabited by the gods.” — John Peradotto, Man in the Middle Voice.

Lars Jan, who had a major installation in the recent Nuit Blanche in Toronto (www.Holocenes.es), was quoted in NOW MagazineWe now “require thinking on a scale at which we’re not really evolved to think. I want to access the imagination as a way to make up for our lack of sensory capacity to think and respond to the long-term . . . a long-form thought process we lose in urban places . . . associative daydreams . . . an instinct I don’t have control over that is guiding me and somehow resonates inside other people.”

10   What does the term ‘wild culture’ mean to you?

Both the botanical and the human culture that finds its own way of growing, that pays attention to natural cycles and persists.

11   If you would like to ask yourself a final question, what would it be?

What’s next? I’ve just finished a book-length poem called 'wild uncertainties', spiraling through the Fibonacci sequence [from which the poem published here is taken]. Though I’m still resonating with it, I’m curious what form the writing will take now.


Japanese pampas grass . . . beauty from natural calculations. 2



. . . is the series of numbers:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, ...

The next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it.

The 2 is found by adding the two numbers before it (1+1)
Similarly, the 3 is found by adding the two numbers before it (1+2),
And the 5 is (2+3), and so on.
Example: the next number in the sequence above would be 21+34 = 55

Here is a longer list:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181, 6765, 10946, 17711, 28657, 46368, 75025, 121393, 196418, 317811 . . .

The Fibonacci sequence is named after Fibonacci, an Italian mathematician, AKA Leonardo Bonacci, and a few other names (c. 1170 – c. 1250). His 1202 book Liber Abaci introduced the sequence to Western European mathematics, though the sequence had been described earlier in Indian mathematics.

Fibonacci numbers are intimately connected with the golden ratio; for example, the closest rational approximations to the ratio are 2/1, 3/2, 5/3, 8/5, ... . Applications include computer algorithms, such as the Fibonacci search technique and the Fibonacci heap data structure, and they also appear in biological settings, such as branching in trees, phyllotaxis (the arrangement of leaves on a stem), the fruit sprouts of a pineapple, the flowering of an artichoke, an uncurling fern and the arrangement of a pine cone.

Fibonacci sequence animations. 3

Nature, design and numbers. Commonly known as the fiddlehead fern, the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) comes up in floodplain areas in the spring.

The tightly unfurled fronds make a delicious steamed vegetable. The ostrich fern is the natural world mascot of the Society for the Preservation of Wild Culture. 4 



NICHOLAS POWER is a founding member of the Meet the Presses literary collective, and has performed with the storytelling duo, The Wordweavers, and the sound poetry ensemble, Alexander’s Dark Band. Books he has been published: Melancholy Scientist (published by Teksteditions), wells (Underwhich Editions), a modest device (The Writing Space), and No Poems (Battered Press). Nicholas has been editing and publishing with his own Gesture Press for 35 years. He works as a psychotherapist in private practice in Toronto.

This poem was previously published in The Journal of Wild Culture, November 11, 2014.


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