Unrelated: compass needles,cartwheels, and Merton

This is about as unrelated as it gets: a great blue heron’s head floating like a compass needle as his eyes and head follow me, a mockingbird tumbling after an insect, and the way Thomas Merton seems to cut to the chase of the human condition, obviating any thoughtful writing I might pursue myself…

Think of me as magnetic north.

Heron’s slender beak

floats like compass needle

as I pass to East.


Lowlands Texan

Mockingbird cartwheels,

its white-banded wings flashing

just above the grass


like a Dutch windmill,

as he scrambles for a bug,

catches it, and lands.


Thomas Merton Reads My Mind, and I Find My Mind Universal

When I read Merton

it causes me to wonder

why I lift a pen.


He speaks the core

of the human condition

and wastes not a word.



Close Bison Encounters of Three Kinds

Close Bison Encounters of Three Kinds

April 9, 2013


Buffalo crossing boardwalk-Yellowstone

Flying through the Tetons at 11 p.m.,

the flat dry road inviting us to drive faster than we should,

the shaggy shape in the left lane flashed by us so fast

we didn’t have time to break into a cold sweat.

We’d narrowly avoided crashing into its 1,500 pounds

and were only vaguely aware

that it must have been looking down its drooping muzzle at us

as we sped past.

It had towered over us, close to six feet tall,

and only a handful of deadly inches away.

It had only become visible

as we turned our still breathing heads

to catch a sideways glance.


Our next encounter came inside Yellowstone

where a male buffalo wandered over the

tourist convenience boardwalk near

one of the newly formed attractions here

as seismic activity – and steaming fumaroles and mineral water pools

migrated from the north end of the park to its southern reaches.

The buffalo clearly had the right of way

in this newly gentrified neighborhood,

as he slowly moved his beefy bulk

grazing his way across the gray plank walkway,

seeming not to regard whether he stood

on the sparsely vegetated limestone

or the newly laid boardwalk,

tempting my wife to move ever closer

to get that longed for closeup

of one of our unofficial national symbols.

Too close for my comfort,

but not causing the furry mantle that covered his shaggy shoulders

to stand on end

nor stimulating him enough to have the word “charge” enter his shaggy head.


The next day we were caught in a one-lane traffic jam

on one of the roads that cut through and encircle

the interior of Yellowstone’s two million acres.

Stoppages along its roads were both common and inevitable,

given the large numbers of vehicles.

Rangers had turned into traffic cops,

spending much of their time untying knots of vehicles

accumulating where a pronghorn or buffalo herd or elk

could be easily seen from the roadside, backing up traffic

for  a quarter mile or more.

But this was a one-lane jam. It was curious.

We inched along, bumper to bumper,

while the left lane remained oddly unencumbered.

We’d been doing this a while

when the 4 p.m. express buffalo approached from the opposite direction

at a full canter –unimpeded, I might add — in the left lane

zipping past us, leaving us still unenlightened

about the reason for our own blockage,

but thoroughly entertained and vastly relieved

to be having this “inches away” close encounter

in the daylight, with plenty of steel clad company

fore and aft.

buffalo, highway, yellowstone