Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Burns Night in Texas

They lifted toasts,
single malt blends,
pretenses of culture
engraved deep into crystal
tumblers and silver salvers.

They brayed their way
through alien brogues
muddled through the Selkirk Grace
pretended to be disappointed
when they had no Haggis.

They let their minds wander,
chasing exploits of ancient warriors,
lifting skirts of lowland lasses,
replaying holes on the old course,
dreaming of old days, red roses, crowns.

When it’s time for auld lang syne,
they dream of brotherhood,
tip bottles to honor old times,
only to find their voices teetering
alone in a haze of scotch and smoke.

First appeared in The Blue Rock Review: Vox (Volume 8), edited by Billy Crockett, Nathan Brown, Don Dorsey, Christopher Everett, and Connie Todd.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sonoran Monsoon Season

(July 4, 2010)
                                    “I don’t know why bad ideas
                                    spread faster than good ones,
                                    but they do.” 
—David Sedaris

Folks sip margaritas and beer,
smoke babyback ribs, gorge themselves
on sweet corn and watermelon,
clamoring for the yearly fireworks show,
patriotic bombs bursting in air
to celebrate the unalienable rights
to send aliens back where they came from
and to treat everyone as an illegal
just for breathing the air of liberty
in the land of the free and home of the brave.
Storm clouds build on the mountains,
gusts whipping through the valley
shaking ancient saguaro to the roots.

First appeared in Agave, a Celebration of Tequila, edited by Nathan and Ashley Brown, published by Ink Brush Press available at Amazon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Never Ending

“…he showed a little thing…”
              --Julian of Norwich

Julian handled a universe
in a hazelnut in her hand
and saw thrice-fairer faces
in a showing of God’s
making, keeping, loving.

When she saw this world
made, kept, loved so well,
she found her heart in him
who never stops being
Maker, Keeper, Lover.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Annual Talent Show

Junior recited the twelve apostles,
Sissy fumbled through the fruit
of the spirit, Grandma Nell thought
her mumbles were sure signs,
the gift of tongues, and Uncle Buford
strummed an old guitar and hummed
a ballad about the rise and fall of heroes.

Edna read something she called a poem,
words inspired by her fascination
with pockets. Blue-haired Ruthie warbled
love songs to widowers and bachelors,
promised hot cobbler and sweet cream
to lonely hearts and empty stomachs.
Violin and mountain dulcimer cried.

Dora fiddles with the microphone.
Feedback squelches and squawks,
then the voice of an angel rises above heads
of hungry penitents, falls like snowflakes
on shoulders, blankets the fallen
with strains of gloria in excelsis Deo,
makes for this moment on earth, peace.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fight or Flight

                        “This may sound like gibberish to you,
                        but I think I’m in a tragedy.”
                                                --Stranger than Fiction

When he reads that the bus comes to squash the boy,
the hero is ready to face his fate, confront the bus.
He knew he had to die.
He knew his story.

But then some sentimental alien
toys with him, plays deus ex machina
on his ass and heart,
plunges him into comedy.

And they all know he needed to die
for the fiction to work.
They all know saving the boy
and dying in his stead

is the only way to make great art—
his knowing choice to give his life,
his love, his world
to save the innocent.

He rejects the instinct to stay on the curb.
He steps out, pushes the child to safety,
stands in front of the bus,
willing to die a hero’s death.

The audience and author can’t bear it,
insist on a tired happy-ever-after ending
Refuse to fight it. Rewrite. Revise.
They flee greatness in the end.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Toad and the Beetle

Out of the dark rains
emerges a Sonoran toad.
His skin like an avocado,
dark, dimpled, thick.
Red dots betray its youth.
In the patter of raindrops,
his kind call in the night,
like muted horns of ships
stranded in an ocean of fog.

This toad finds rich feeding
beneath the back porch,
bugs drawn to the dryness,
clamoring to the light.
This buffet of corn bugs,
moths, and roaches suits
the hulking green monster,
until he eyes a dung beetle
big enough to fill him full.

The toad is slow, lumbers
toward this boon. The beetle
is slower, has no idea he’s
about to become Jonah
in the belly of a monster.
One gulp seems sufficient.
The toad swallows him whole.
The beetle wallows in darkness.
A contest of wills ensues.

The beetle breaks free,
bursts from the maw,
sticky from stomach acid,
reeling from noxious slime.
The surprised toad decides
his stomach is bigger
than his eyes, tries again
to consume the beetle
who refuses to be eaten.

The beetle wins a second
and third round in this battle,
tickling the throat, slipping past
clenched lips, falling to the floor,
exhausted, stuck in toxic glue.
The toad contemplates the stillness,
seems willing to call it a draw,
rather than feel scratching claws again.
Still hungry, he flees his nightmare.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mountain Passes

I weigh each message,
consider fragments and moods,
balance the imperative to
“watch for falling rocks”
against the need to eye
the edges of the winding road.
I see evidence of fallen rocks,
wonder who saw the falling.

The dash flashes eighty degrees,
but signs in July still caution
“Bridge may ice before road.”
I know oracles hedge their bets,
satisfy fate and unearth the proud
with ambiguity.  Sans meteors
and icicles, I dare cross the bridge,

resume the ascent up the steepening
last climb. This final slope
abounded with redundancies—
“Slower traffic keep right,”
“Left lane for passing only.”
Approaching the summit,
I find myself halfway there,
I hug the right, cling to life.