I think that I shall never see
A tree that is invisible.
The very thought is risible—
Or maybe it’s advisable
To say the word as ‘rīsible.’

My crucial point is clear to see
—I mean it can be seen, not clear—
What’s clear cannot be seen. I fear
I never saw but should have sawn
That tree that stood upon my lawn.

I blame my mirror with its missive:
Those objects far are near, or sort of.
And close? Remote! —or else just short of.
Which is to say I backed my car
Through objects near I thought were far.

And mirrors twist the world around!
When left is right then right’s not rightful.
To spin the world is worse than spiteful:
This switch enables tricky trees
To hide in wait with seeming ease.

I barreled through a picket railing.
—In its defense, not much a fence—
I first de-fenced the fence and thence:
Invisible but sizeable,
A tree, unrecognizable.

Or else I’m blaming climate change.
So hot outside I took a drink,
No more than two, I’m sure, I think.
In seeing double, still unseen,
A tree lurked somewhere there between.

This global warming is a threat
Our fevered globe will be our doom:
The future’s cloaked in lucid gloom.
What once was wood is now a clearing.
The trees, you see, are disappearing.



Martin Hill Ortiz is a researcher and professor at the Ponce University of Health Sciences in Ponce, PR where he lives with his wife and son. He has three novels published by small presses: A Predatory Mind (Loose Leaves Publishing, 2013),  Never Kill A Friend, (Ransom Note Press, 2015), and A Predator’s Game (Rook’s Page, 2016). 

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9 Responses

  1. Monty

    I’m quite sure that I’ve never before used the word ‘exciting’ to describe a poem on these pages; but the further I read into your piece above, the more I was becoming mildly excited at what was actually happening in front of my eyes. There were so many different aspects to the poem.. all happening at once. Hence my initial excitement.

    Only upon completing my first read was I able to appreciate each different aspect; thus, I decided to re-read it several times – each time concentrating on a different aspect:
    On my second reading, I concentrated just on the deliciously-abundant wordplay; for example, how you cleverly lure the reader into automatically mispronouncing the word ‘risible’ . . the way you nimbly play with the word ‘clear’ . . your brilliant double-use of the word ‘sawn’ . . and ‘objects near I thought were far’.
    For my third reading, I read it in the context of how, as the poem progresses, the reader begins to realise the link between the two alternative titles.
    And for my fourth, I momentarily put aside all of the aforementioned sophistication . . and read it simply as a poem! A 7-stanza environmental poem: clearly and fluently written: and immaculately rhymed.

    I have to say that I did spot the minutest anomaly in S5: after the word ‘railing’, there shouldn’t be a full-stop AND a hyphen: only one or the other. Also, the second hyphen at the end of L2 is redundant, it should be a full-stop, ‘coz L3 goes into a different action. I would’ve put it as . .
    I barreled through a picket railing;
    In its defense, not much a fence.
    I first de-fenced the fence and thence
    – Invisible but sizeable –
    A tree . . unrecognisable.

    This is a captivating piece of work, Martin. An outwardly humorous poem, but at the same time deadly serious (or vice versa) . . not always easy to pull-off. You’ve done so with ease . . . well played.

  2. James A. Tweedie

    What Monty said in spades (or chainsaws as you may prefer)!

    From what I can tell, your mind seems process words as if you were walking through a labyrinthine hall of mirrors, and reading the poem was, for me, was similar to walking through a carnival “Fun House.”

    All in all, very impressive. And even more than that, both fun and funny!

  3. C.B. Anderson

    This poem was hilarious, Martin, and probably would have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize if you had submitted it to LIGHT. If you have others like this up your sleeve, then please let us see them.

  4. David Watt

    Martin, your poem provides a great deal to appreciate. There is a fine sense of humor, delicious wordplay, and the development of an unhappy incident into a truly entertaining read.

  5. Martin Hill Ortiz

    Thank you for the kind words. I guess I have a number of these. Over the years I’ve tried to publish poetry (both metered and modern) through traditional publishers and I still haven’t had much success. I still don’t want to self-publish, it seems to me a wasteland, and not the T.S. Eliot classic kind.

    I’ll try to send along one a month here, for my classical verse at least.


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