By Peter Halstead

The forest floor
Is floured over
In vegetable ores,
The scents and
Of what a clover
Or a flower is.


In using the word “fluorescent” to describe a bug in my poem “Firefly,” I was struck by the smaller words hidden there, all of which well described “fluorescence.” I had been reading Emily Dickinson that morning but didn’t expect myself to fall so easily into a Dickinsonian trance.

This was the consequence of not having a deck on the house, as we were eliminating all wood appurtenances to exorcise the demon of wildfire. I was thus driven into the woods, which were alive with more poems than I had the energy to face. Having had no time during the week for anything vaguely approaching selfishness, I was flooded with self-indulgence, known charitably as ideas.

My friend the bug (see the note to “Firefly”), after hopefully exploring my flower shirt, had installed itself on the green metal table, trying to figure out its obvious photosynthetic application, (not obvious to anyone but a bug).

The great sculptor Mark di Suvero proposed the idea of doing a chapbook with some of his sketches and some of my short poems, the loveliest gesture of friendship and belief imaginable, emblematic of the great generosity of spirit Mark has demonstrated throughout his life. For instance, he started the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens to showcase young sculptors.

He chose this piece for the title poem of the book.

August 10th and 13th, 2002