Saturday, April 30, 2016

You

Who are you? What is your name?
What are you like? Perhaps we’re the same.

Do you roar like a lion when bedtime’s too soon?
Do you howl like a wolf when you see the full moon?
Are you wise like an owl? Quick like a cat?
Can you find your way through the dark night like a bat?
Do you slouch like a sloth when you’re just feeling tired?
Do you buzz like a hummingbird when you get wired?
Are you strong like a rhino? Fierce like a bear?
Can you climb a tall tree like a squirrel on a dare?
Do you swallow your lunch all at once like a snake?
Or in bits, like ants taking crumbs from a cake?
Can you run like a cheetah? Hop like a bunny?
Do you laugh like a loon when you hear something funny?
Are you graceful and elegant, poised like a swan?
Do you sing with the birds serenading the dawn?
Can you swim like a whale? Swing like an ape?
Can you fly like a hawk in your superman cape?

Well, judging by all of the answers you’ve stated,
I just have to say that—I think we’re related!

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Otters

There’s an otter in the water
and this otter’s got a daughter
who is on the teeter-totter
but at least she’s got a spotter,
’cause her babysitter otter’s
gonna stop her if she totters.

But the spotter spots another otter
spitting in the water,
so the spotter calls an otter copper,
tattling on the naughty otter.
(It’s the otter copper’s job
to stop the snotty naughty otters.)

So the copper stops the naughty otter
spitting in the water,
but the naughty little otter
is an underwater plotter.

This naughty otter spitter
gets around the babysitter,
and this rotter underwater
makes the daughter otter totter,
toppling down into the water
from her otter teeter-totter.

The haughty father otter
faults the baby-otter sitter,
but the floating daughter otter,
doting on her babysitter,
fits the fault upon the naughty plotting
snotty otter spitter,
so the otter copper jots it
in the naughty otter blotter.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Owl

As the night falls, I rise.
I lift into the lowering skies,
And welcome the dark to fill my eyes.

Ablaze in flight,
I know the secret of the night:
That we are never wholly without light.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Frog

Back in my youth, I was so insecure,
suspicious of my body, all the changes
that threatened to upend the life I knew.
A little life it was, though, to be sure—
so limited, unaware what new range,
what scope my life would gain then, as I grew.

And what a life! How little did I know
what joy there is in hopping, what delight
in the taste of flies! Indeed, in all respects,
this life so excels the old that now I glow
with anticipation, waiting, breathless, eyes alight,
wondering what will happen next.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Tadpole

I don’t think I’m a fish,
but I don’t belong on land
I swim all that I wish,
but I’d rather like to stand.

I’ve got this fancy tail,
though it’s shrinking day by day.
The air I can’t inhale,
’cause my gills get in the way.

These funny little stumps
might turn into legs, I guess.
But I could never jump
with my limbs in such a mess.

Oh, life is complicated
as an awkward polliwog.
I’ll become what God dictated,
but I sure hope it’s a frog!

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Bat

Darkness is never only darkness to me.
When sight, straining, resigns its role
to other senses, I sing my way,
caressing the night with my rippling voice,
and the blackness sings back, blooming with life.
Grasping the shape of graceful echoes
I pull them to me, pressing forward,
all of their bright beauty sublimely clear
in the feeling, hearing, flying, enfolding
dance of perception that dapples the night.
Don’t look—listen: the luminous dark
calls down the dawn of midnight.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Lemming

What can I say? It sounded like fun,
according to Tyler, who’s into this stuff,
and Madison said she felt like a run,
and Ethan had never been up to the bluff,
and Dominic’s mom kicked him out of his room,
and Emma had got some new shoes to break in,
and Brianna and Kennedy both just assumed
that if Carly was going it must be a win,
and Zachary swore it was safe as could be,
and Cameron’s brother had done it before,
and we all know that Gabriel can’t disagree,
and Claire can’t let anyone say she’s a bore,
and Eva won’t waste such a beautiful day,
and Luke said not going would just be a crime,
and Jayden was sure it would all be okay,
and suddenly then, at the end of the climb,
well, there was the cliff.
                                            So what can I say?
It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Oysters

Here we sit, just us girls,
in tidepool wavelet curls we laze
around, enjoy the days.
Ah, but then there’s always a catch,
we squirm a bit, we scratch.
Just one grain from our patch of sand,
sneaking in all unplanned,
disrupts us in our grand repose.
Vexation always shows
which ones of us are those who take
it as a challenge, shake
off our discomfort, make a guest
of an unwelcome pest.
And then we find we’re blessed with jewels,
and poorer are the fools
who forget the rule is: don’t quit,
there’s a lesson in it—
that when life gives you grit, make pearls.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Tick

Don’t mind me—I’m a tick,
and I just want to stick to you,
to be loyal and true,
to be there when you’re blue, a friend
you can always depend
on. I’m ready to lend an ear,
and that’s why I adhere
so closely. You know we’re linked now,
blood brothers, I and thou,
a friendship all endowed with might,
from just a little bite.
And don’t you think that’s quite a trick?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Hummingbird

Hummingbird, hummingbird, why do you hum?
       I hum to feel glad when the world is glum.
Hummingbird, what if it’s sunny today?
       Then I hum in the hope it continues that way.

Hummingbird, can’t you remember the words?
       I remember them all, and recite them
       at once in both languages, human and bird.
Ah, so that’s why it buzzes. Alright then.

Hummingbird, could you please teach me your song?
       I will, since you ask so politely.
Hummingbird, could I try flying along?
       You may, if you take yourself lightly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Whale

Calling to you, I sing my song into the deep,
a love song, long as all the endless seas are long.
The waves of sound and sea will roll on distant shores,
until, one day, my song will find its way to yours.
Searching for you, I sing my song and do not weep,
a patient song, strong as all the endless seas are strong.
The waves of sound and sea connecting everything
will draw us slowly near, until, one day, they bring
our voices into harmony, as we rejoice and sing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Python

Here is quite a useful tip, about your average python:
       That judging by the shape of it, you know just what’s inside one.
The long and skinny ones, they can’t have eaten too much lately,
       But when the bulge looks like your Aunt, then you can pass by safely.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Salmon

Far though I roam, my fate calls me
ever back to my birthplace.
Through a thousand miles of thankless sea,
I have been swimming for centuries,
or so it feels, frantically searching
for something lost, a lack I couldn’t
name. But now, at last,
my course is set. Singlemindedly
I hold my way, hungering only
for what I remember: a mystery,
almost a dream, but drawing me
urgently onward. Out of the ocean,
up rocky streams, rapids and falls,
I fight and struggle, firm in my goal.
Nothing deters me. Never daunted,
leaping obstacles, lingering nowhere,
I will myself forward. My wanderings will end,
I know. Past this curve, the next, that bend,
I’ll find the land where Life begins,
where holy water washes off my sins,
and though I die there, my death will only be
that last high leap that lifts me to Thee.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Spider (II)

Patiently I weave, my body spins the thread
that through its art and through its death will keep
creative soul and mortal body fed.
Shuddering, it calls me as it dies,
my silken, lovely, sudden-tattered shred,
and in its former glory, I bind our prize.
Perhaps it seems I hold creation cheap,
yet I must live. Therefore I sew, and reap.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Spider

I weave my web willingly, although
I know it will never need to weather
storms, trials or strains. I need it
only an hour, only till a struggle
calls me out, keen with craving, over
the triplines, trailing destruction through my canvas
that lives just long enough to let me trap
a meal. Then immediately, I mend it. And wait.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Danube Blues

Well, I had me a day make me hang my head an’ cry.
Oh yeah, I had me one o’ them days, ain’t nuthin’ you can do but cry,
Gonna get myself a whiskey, drink till I’m bone dry.

So I head out to the bar, but somethin’ just ain’t right,
I said I get me on into that bar, but I know there’s somethin’ just ain’t right,
Ain’t no hard luck, stone broke, blind man singer in sight.

They got this big brass band there, playin’ up a pile o’ Strauss,
There’s this big ol’ honkin’ band there, playin’ oh you know it’s gotta be Strauss,
Johann, Josef, and Johann Junior in da house.

Well you ain’t gonna get me out there on that floor,
I said you ain’t never gonna get me out there on that dancin’ floor,
Ever since my woman left me, I ain’t gonna dance no more.

Oh I never saw what hit me, but now I’m spinnin’ round and round,
I said the very next thing I know this here waltz has got me dancin’ round,
And it’s got my bad mood just a-packin’ right outta town.

Well now, I can’t frown when I put on my dancin’ shoes,
Oh no, I just can’t frown at all when I put on them dancin’ shoes,
Well don’t blame me none—I got the waltzin’ Danube Blues,
Yessir, I got them everlovin’ fancy-turnin’ giddy-waltzin’
           Danu-u-u-u-u-u-ube… Blues.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Millipede

I saw a little millipede, a-going for a walk.
He waved and said “Good morning!” so I stopped a while to talk.
In admiration I remarked upon his jaunty stroll,
and marveled at those countless feet all under his control.
“How is it, little millipede,” I asked with great regard,
“that all your feet know where to step? It must be awfully hard!”
Cheerfully he opened up his mouth to make reply,
as gradually his many limbs drew up to rest nearby.
But then his face grew cloudy, and then puzzled, and then glum.
It seemed my simple question had struck him rather dumb.
The time ticked on in awkward silence, till I had to go,
apologizing as I left for having stumped him so.
I really do feel awful now, for causing him to fret—
but if he hasn’t worked it out, you’ll find he’s stuck there yet.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Lord’s Instructions to His Creation

Back when the world was new and souls were still
finding their way into their bodies, all
the creatures of earth and sea and sky approached
Lord Brahma, the Creator, for instruction.
“Teach us,” they pleaded, “how it is that we,
so new to these forms, new to this world,
can act in righteousness.”
                                          The Lord was pleased,
and beckoned each to come alone to Him.
To each He whispered—softly, so that none
but it could hear—that sweetly rumbling Word,
the cosmic AUM.
                              Contented, one by one,
they left Heaven, returned to their homes
in forest and field, in sea and sky,
and in devotion, took their Lord’s advice.

The snake, its nature sinuous and stretched,
heard in that Word a slithering, a sudden
bite. This it practiced.
                                     But the elephant,
thundering in its confidence, had known
in that same call a majesty of tusks
and trumpets, of tree trunk limbs. Boldly thus
it lived.
              And so it goes throughout creation.
The tiger prowls and kills its prey, the bird
hears melodies and sings them bright and clear,
fish swim, the deer, caught grazing, bounds away,
but all obey that inner voice they hear.
Thieves follow the sound to rich men’s purses,
sailors to the sea, soldiers to war,
and kings to Dharma.
                                   Every being finds
its nature in this sound, and honors it,
and in the honoring draws closer to
the source.
                   And after countless ages, then
at last, the sage, his spine held like a rod,
controls his senses, draws within, and finds
he hears again, complete, the Word of God.

Monday, April 11, 2016

On Choosing a Pet

I asked my mom to buy a horse.
She says that there’s no room, of course.

The thought of owning a giraffe
just makes her shake her head and laugh.

And as for a rhinoceros,
she told me that’s preposterous.

When I brought home a wild yak,
she called Tibet to take it back.

I thought she’d like a cute red fox.
She threw him out and changed the locks.

And then that poor tarantula,
she drove off with a spatula.

I said “How ’bout an ocelot?”
but she just yelled an awful lot.

And when I caught that rattlesnake…
I’m pretty sure those tears weren’t fake.

I just can’t make my mom agree—
I guess that means she’s stuck with ME!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Buzzard's Prayer

Come fly with me, Lord, in the bleak open sky,
as I hang around waitin’ for somethin’ to die.
Good pardners are scarce for a drifter like me
atwixt the hot sun and the barren prairie.
Some critter’ll cash in as we fly across—
like a jackrabbit or, if we’re lucky, a hoss.
But then when it does, I won’t rush to the trough.
I’ll circle politely, a little ways off.
You get first crack, Lord, ’cuz I ain’t averse
to showin’ some manners—and You saw it first.
So go have Your tuck out, and don’t mind me none,
when I smell that it’s ripe then it’s time for my run.
Then I’ll come down and sure be delighted to see
that You, in Your Grace, left the best part for me.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Manatee

Oh, I once was a mermaid, with skin like white gold,
and a siren’s clear call floating up from the sea—
more beauty, young man, than your vision could hold,
when I was a mermaid. But now I’ve grown old.

You’ll find my skin wrinkled, encrusted and gray,
my bright silken hair scrubbed away by the brine.
All stubbled with whiskers, my lips are like clay,
and that’s what you see, when you see me today.

My movements are awkward, ungainly, and slow,
though once I cavorted and skimmed through the waves.
Now I’m swollen and bulging, above and below,
and that’s all there is to me, as far as you know.

I’ll sing no more songs now, for captain or crew,
so cast off and sail your gazes away.
I know very well what I look like to you,
but what does that matter? I know what is true.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Zebra

Black or white? Good or bad?
How do I know if I’m happy or sad?
How can I tell, with the way that I’m clad?

When I want to be my evil twin,
I hide in shadows with a grin.
I really shouldn’t have let him in.

But later on when I want to be white,
then I stand in the Light.
There—just right.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Turtle Sonnet

The turtle in his shell is not afraid.
Although he seems to hide and shrink from sight,
his mind is open wide. This little monk
in solitary cell, his consciousness
a spacious citadel, would never say
that he had been denied anything, but
rather, the world inside is one, he finds,
that shines, expands and swells—no longer slow
he runs like a gazelle, and over countless
rich kingdoms he presides, while, silently,
he sits at his bedside, until his breath
resumes, and breaks the spell. He rises now,
and stretches, opens shining eyes and then—
comes forth, renewed, to greet the world again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Squid

Where’s the squid?
He went and hid.

Why?
He’s shy.

Was he embarrassed to run out of ink?
Yes, I think.

When his friends found him, what did they say?
It’s okay.

Did he feel better then, the squid?
He did.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Sloth's Lullaby

Good


night


little—


oh.



Where


did


the night


go?

The Three-Toed Sloth

I lounge in leafy luxury, atop my toothsome tree,
It’s luscious, yes, and languid, my arboreality.
For folivorous flavors I select amongst the best,
With suspended animation, I chew a bit, then rest.
Tri-dactylicly I clasp a branch, with bradypodal claws,
I lure the leaves down to my lips, then open wide, and… pause.

Monday, April 4, 2016

My Giraffe

My giraffe
will never laugh.
The jokes I tell
seem awfully swell
down here.
But once my voice has made it all the way up to his ear,
what was funny
on the floor
isn’t funny
anymore.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Honeybee's Lullaby

Hush, little honeybee, fold your little wings,
And dream of flowers yellow bright, and other petaled things.
There’s honey in the hexagons and pollen in the pot,
And you shall rest among the riches all your folk have brought.

Quiet, little honeybee, still, and listen well
To the thrumming rustling murmurs that surround your little cell.
Hear now in their whispering your kindred’s constant theme:
A hum of adoration, for one day you’ll be queen.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The King of Beasts

The lion paces ’round his lair,
with restless eyes and mournful air.
He pauses briefly here, then there,
but never settles anywhere.

He growls and rumbles in despair,
lamenting that his den is bare,
equipped with neither throne nor chair
to rest his royal derriere!

Friday, April 1, 2016

April

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
—Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Spring

For one purpose, April, do you return again.
Prose is not enough.
It can no longer quiet me with the flatness
Of countless pages turning steadily.
I write what I write.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The rhythms emerging.
The sound of the wind is rhymed.
It is apparent that all is life.
But what does that signify?
Not only in the heavens are the minds of men
Inspired by muses.
Desire in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a sheet of unmarked paper.
It is enough that yearly, down this hill,
I
Come like an idiot, babbling and strewing poems.