December 2012 - February 2013

Some critters show up in my poetry. I accept the blame when they behave badly. Hopefully, a closer reading will bring out the good, better, and best in them.

The poems were written in the sequence presented. The first dates from 1998, the last, 2002.


A Trial By Fire and Brimstone


Admit you did it, scorpion.
Now tell why.
Our case shows
that late last night
on a deserted
desert floor
the tumbleweeds
took up dancing.
Partners shook loose.
Down and around they bounced,
backwards and so forth.
And as the sands
shifted, a stand
of cacti started whistling.


We have witnesses
who wouldn’t lie.
They overheard
your cayote cronies
crooning along.
Likewise they listened
to holed up rattlers
joining in underground.
A hot beat sounded
from their shaky tails.
Then their heads
surfaced all around.
like metronomes.


As our only suspect
where were you
when shooting stars
singed the sky?
At sunrise,
the sheriff pinched you
red handed
rummaging thru his boots.
Still, you swear
that the wicked wind
blew you there
after the brimstone
downed our town.

Doom it.
An alibi like that
ain’t worth a dime.
We’re just wasting time.
Anyway, unwritten laws’ll
have the last word.
With squashing on the spot
a sure sentence.

First published in Poetry Magazine




Critters caught off guard —
then, one, two, three…
we’re as hungry as wolves can be —
which should give the shepherd
something to stew over
once it dawns on him
who sheared down
his flock.

Such goodness on the hoof
standing out
oh so soft and white
under the moonlight
makes them clearly
much more appealing
than any holed up hares,
harder to snare, tough to eat.
There’s also a corral around them,
obliging outsiders
to either leer longingly,
or find a gate
which can be pawed open
without raising a bleat.


“Brute evil’s out there,”
the shepherd bellows
while stomping his staff.
“See how it fared
during the dread of night,
disguised as darkness,
invisible to the innocent.”
He calls us sly devils,
even though we’re wolves
specialized in cunning.

Hiding behind a hedge
listening to his mad mouthing,
we’re far too full
to howl out who’s wrong.
Meanwhile, on branches,
early birds’re chirping and singing.
What music for our forked ears —
enough to lull us
into lying low for a while,
counting fewer sheep
to fall asleep.

If the Beast’s Only a Branch


See what I’m saying, son?
Look at the thicket — yes,
on the left, near the river,
loaded with mangos…
There’s an alligator in one
of the trees…
Maybe it’s lost, stranded… could
be hungry.
Oh, you’d rather know more
about where than why…
Such a skeptic I’ve raised —
enough, at times, to make me
wish you’d been born after adolescence,
or, even better,
had already outlived it.
How about taking the path
that skirts the river?
The sun’d be behind us,
the trees so close
we could smell the mangos.
They’re my favorite fruit — and
if the beast’s only a branch,
you can pick some for lunch.
The sweetest grow on top.

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