My mood to you may seem quite vile
But listen to me, stay a while
I’m nothing like that crocodile
A villain, though he wears a smile

(A pair of alligators at Anahuac National Wildlife Reserve, March 2018.)



pot of zinnia sprouts
I proudly show the photo
and hand out cigars


seed follows the way
the sky sees little zinnias
more seeds in the Fall


we curse our bad luck
seedlings will sprout none the less
but what do they know

White Wing

I’ve always a weak attachment to food
In the kitchen I’m an interloper, mending fences
A field hand to the duties of my own appetite

But here I am, bare feet on the linoleum
Rudimentary gut signals begging for nourishment
Appear to me as cravings for salt, or sugar

And I keep feeding this fount of desires
Rolling up some scrambled eggs in tortillas
While outside, a white-winged dove coos:

Who? Who? Who cooks for you?

Feline System Alert


Device low on cat hair
Please replenish residual deposits
On drum and all paper paths
Drum access door is open

Cat box need cleaning
Cat food bowl low on
Most expensive prescription kibble
Money can buy, please replenish

Cat maintenance scheduled event
Not detected – Cat unhappiness alert
Cat nap disturbance alert

Sanity alert – high levels
Of human dignity detected
Increase attention to cat needs
To maintain dignity levels
Below cat-required thresholds

Human in cat’s favorite chair detected
System critical alert
Human malfeasance near peak levels
Cat not petted in right spot
No purring detected



the absurdity of life
really should be enough
of a wake-up call, but I’m
locked in a legal battle
with this snooze button
whose attorney calls her
first witness: the chaste
saffron light of dawn
and I sleep deeply
through the glowing mist
of its testimony

The Greens

Green—your enamel face jars the moping daylight
and the dried brown grass with a shrill
but cheerful alarm, saying: wake up
and for goodness’ sake, get dressed.

Green—the billboard announces
as if the color were a destination
or a product we might buy on impulse
and then carry home in a monogrammed bag.

Green—the verdant pause, a break
room where one can find respite
from all the angry reds, the bright
persistent yellows or those
ever pleading lavenders who always
seem to want something.

Green—like ice cream for the eyes
on a hot afternoon, after we had exhausted
ourselves with mischief and horseplay.

Green—my favorite Crayola as a child
until I dumped you for blue and then
later on, my eyes would become
lascivious, multicolor, a dirty old man
with a harem of every hue.

Green—the color that leaf sprouts
and grasslands always get exactly right
but paint pigment usually screws all up.

Green—the show of restraint
against the gaudy splash of dandy
your unrepentant husband, his
Peter Max coat of Technicolor primaries
your mate, the male Painted Bunting.

Green—the very blessing of St. Patrick
himself, on that one day when proud Irish
Catholic men can get away with wearing
Kelly dinner jackets, and the beer
and sometimes the rivers too.

Green—you are the very essence of golf
unbeknownst to the powerful men who
crave the silence of those eighteen bladed mounds
and menacing sculpted hazards, who simply cannot
wander around in meadows without a goal
or a tabulated, gaining reason.

Green—the background felt of every
gambler’s dream win, the card counting
blackjack hopefuls and the pool sharks
the dicers and rounders, your
deep forest aura shining through
the smoke and the bourbon spills.

Green—the color of envy and
the envy of colors, no doubt
and clean, clear shallow seas.

Green—I hear you speak
in your adorable chromatic accent
of the multiplicity of colors that
hide silently within the spectrum
like wildlife unseen on a forested hillside
when we see only the blanched white
of fence boards in sunlight
or a galactic spread of trees.

(Photo: Yes, this is an actual billboard on the East end of Galveston island. I noticed it the other day when I was out there looking for exotic birds. I photographed it knowing that someone would soon ruin its astonishing simplicity with some message or another, and thinking to use it as a prompt for a poem. As you can see, if you made it this far, I got a little carried away.)


I wonder what it is
that the biosphere intends
when this happens: twins

then I realize
as I butter my toast
that nature, motherly, stern
she intends nothing at all
at most

no agenda, but
churn and do, and redo
with a twist and like
the chop and pan-rattle
of us rustlers in the kitchen

she’s up and at’em
before a morning thought
can get his shoes on


The hardwoods sent their roots
down into the museum below
into the vaults beneath the leaf mat
where the first sounds, stellar echoes
muffled under perfect black loam
formed the aboriginal musicale

Before a cutter can say “fall”
your chambered body, your neck
before the luthier said “shape”
still hidden in the mists

On mountainside, in the valley
the poison dart frogs meeping
in a driving rain, giant Stag Horns
under impossible vine-laced canopy

The rain forest written in your
rufous stained, long grained face
clutched by hooters and hollers
improvising drunken solos, the babel
of every-skin merry players, roof beam
rackets, the shoe-scuffed dance floors
of us, the throngs, and giddy songs

Slap-strumming pedal to the metal
or finger pecked, string bending
trance shattering crescendos, all from
such a stoic, quiet-seeming wood
born of the life-oozing hum
and decibel of ancient anterooms
long before the chainsaws

Then sometime after, the cover bands
of coping saws and chisels played
familiar jig with clamp and glue
then catgut, me, and you


(an affectionate nod to my favorite ukulele
and well-made stringed instruments in general)

Fortune on the Ropes

(best heard in the voice of Tom Waits)

The mother of all hopes, say why
It is the hope that you won’t die

All your other little hopes
And fears of fortune on the ropes

Are you and mama’s little babies
Raised on could be, might be, maybes

Small, defenseless, toddler hope
Together you, in patches, cope

Do not these puny hopes obscure
The big one? Never speak it, sir