Animals

Series comma

Musician Ronnie dies away and

cousin Leslie cannot say

how or why God calls

us there beyond the billow:

Sad friend Sarah’s dying dog

gets fed prednisone so life extends

a month perhaps as sibling Robert

hiss-pierces sister’s heart and venom

seeps down hanging veins while

curly-haired Amy sings and weeps

for a brother who died well before

he was newly felled yet somehow

in the face of grace I can make

the smallest case for the naught

we become after we hear our knell

when I find myself impelled

to tell some sighing students

“a series comma is more common.”

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There’s no talking to a scorpion

23-The_Eurypterida-610x403

Did you know that scorpions, the oldest
animals on Earth, appeared 430 million years ago
and have not changed a whit since they walked out of the sea
so they could molt in peace?

Humans have been known to freeze these animals over night,
thaw them out in sunlight the very next morning, and
watch slack-jawed as they scuttled merrily away
in search of their next prey.

Some hardly need air to live because they
can will their metabolisms to a near naught and
have been known to survive
for as much as a year on a single meal.

With eight arthropod legs, a scorpion can outrun you once he has you fixed in his sights. And, should you find yourself face to face with this ancient creature, do not think for a minute that there will be any reasoning with him —
no matter how reasoned your entreaty may be.

Take the note I recently wrote the scorpion who some might call sibling:
my words, it appears,
fell deafly and drear
on salt-wet ears.

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“Well anyway

rose-petals

the dead

are dead”

hushed but

busted wide

with want

that Jim

still begging

for one

last go

and Francie

so starved

she’s throwing

down fries

just minutes

before closing

those eyes

of hers

and the

dog’s ball

was buried

last fall

but what

a shedder

she was

that pup

this one

time gobbling

up chocolates

with franks

poor girl

nearly died

then but

didn’t so

look

the sun

it’s white

the wind

it’s up

the bits

of straw

skitter across

granite and

grass these

rose petals

dying, yes,

but still

so fragrant

nonetheless

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October

robin egg

I will tell you about the naked oak in our yard and about

my dead robin, June, who couldn’t fly south for winter

and about the Cooper’s hawk that swooped down to eat

the poor thing, pecking first at a dull eye, while close by

two cracked eggs, each the size of a large jelly bean,

lay oozing yolk and about the cold sky pulled thin and

plumed across my low horizon and about Hyena, with

his pail full of silver buckshot, who shouted from across

the avenue, “Wanna lick my lollipop, pancake tits?”

while behind him two fat boys cackled, with Br’er

Rabbit, the older by some years, in Daddy’s pink shirt

and about mother leaving for the City, her thin

lips painted plump, and about my gray lunch

congealing in a tin pan that sat on the top rack of a

cold oven and about the canned peaches she dumped

into a tea cup and placed on a shelf in her

refrigerator. But not yet and not here

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Bird poop

Bird

Today I have been called to write about bird crap and about why it upsets me so when I find it thickly smeared across my car. It’s not that I have a fancy, immaculately clean automobile I am compelled to overprotect. No. It’s a gray Toyota Yaris I wash and vacuum a few times a year, after which I am pretty well done with the whole business.

But, when I headed out to do some food shopping this afternoon and found the entire front end and windshield of the car covered with the foul, crusty stuff, I nearly lost my own s**t, as they say.

In part, my extreme response has to do with my pride and with my not wanting neighbors and passersby on the road to think I don’t know how to maintain my property—and hence myself. As if anyone pays attention to whether or not I have a clean automobile.

When I really think about my reaction, though, I find I am most deeply disturbed by the fact that we are no match for Mother Nature. Ever. No matter how many times, in this instance, we might try to outsmart her by keeping our cars in garages—or by vacuuming, washing. and polishing them—sooner or later we will all get shat upon. And copiously.

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