I flipped a tortoise back onto its feet
its shell sturdy and ancient like
a cobblestone road caked with mud and twigs
as I brushed the carapace with
an already-soiled shirtsleeve, I said
"tortoise, you're old as hell, how do
you deal with taking tumbles?"
the tortoise took a long second
and with the wheeze of age it said
"having a hard-ass shell helps somewhat,
but I suppose a soft-skinned so-and-so
like yourself operates in the realm
of metaphor, in which case, you need
an open pair of ears; if you listen well
you'll hear what's worth hearing,
the lilting melody of benevolence,
the earnest yearns and condolences of kin,
the rest is white noise and sales pitches"
that's it? "yeah pretty much,
connection isn't that complicated"