You felt; I felt

Sometimes it’s silly little things; thoughtful things done unthinkingly and unselfishly that tell us, unmistakably that we’re loved unconditionally. This is one of those things.


We’d not run out of bottled water

— liquid refreshment I fear running out of –

but without checking, you panicked,

ran to the store close to bedtime,

picked me up a two-day supply.


And you called me to tell me,

also telling me you hadn’t checked

to see if we’d really run out.


I knew we had a few days’ supply,

but was very grateful nonetheless.


You told me you felt a little bit foolish,

but I felt a whole lot loved.



Place your bets; place your bets

One guesses there is a breaking point for every non-believer, a point at which betting with the House makes more sense than betting against it. Here’s a probing try at finding where that point lies for someone who sits in the dark contemplating the Light.


No atheists on take off or landing.

Foxholes, of course, everyone knows about that one.

What about those swinging seats

when the Ferris wheel stalls?

Bet there are none there.

Skydivers — none.

Scuba divers low on air, too far from the surface — none.


So what does it take

to get you to take Pascal’s gamble?

A chute that won’t open?

Or simply the realization

that every beating heart




No matter what other advice the writing sages offer, they always offer this one piece: If you want to write a lot of good writing, you need to read a lot of good writing. And so it is. One person’s take on the events of their life is often the spur to see your own life experience differently — or even at all.


Poetry is useless to me,

a silent GPS for a blind man,

a tire tool in a canoe.


Then I open my Billy Collins,

read a couple of poems,

and suddenly poetry is

water to a man dying of thirst;

a breeze for a becalmed sailor;

salt and pepper for an unseasoned steak.



I am a poetic foot.

I am trochaic.



The crunch generation rodeo

The plight of millions who are raising families while taking care of aging parents has created a genuine crunch generation who must fight to stay in the saddle — a form of stasis — never really winning or losing, just staying afloat, bearing in mind that all such binds are time limited. They can’t last forever. Thank God!


Her hand must be wired

into the reins

in violation of all

sound rodeo rules,

and she rides astride

not one, but two

unruly mounts.


One threatens death,

collapse beneath her,

despite best efforts

to keep her moving,

head up in the chute.


The other writhes, jumps,

bucks, and climbs the walls,

heedless of calming words,

maternal clucking noises

and admonitions to calm.


But the chute gate never opens;

the rider tires, but perseveres,

and the announcer

seems to be reading

the 23rd Psalm

in the booming, amplified,

twangy, West Texas voice

so typical of rodeo announcers.


Will the buzzer razz,

signaling the end of the ride,

or will this noble cowgirl

get thrown under one ride

or the other.


Maybe that’s what

the announcer means

by that “shadow of death” line.


Maybe that’s the promise

of that last phrase —

“And I will dwell in the House of the Lord, forever.”



Small coppery snake — but powerful

Though ultimately destined to be crushed under the foot of a fearless, virtue-filled woman, like spiders, these creatures, all wiggly and limbless, exercise an amazing power to create backwards movement among most of the females I’m acquainted with — though of course, not all…


The tiny snake

moved rapidly

within the palm of my hand,

his constant, rapid motion

making “writhing”

seem an inadequate verb.


The school’s assistant

who had pointed him out

jumped back reflexively

when I rose from

scooping the tiny reptile

into my palm.


But the uniformed school girls

in their blue and green plaid

outfits moved closer

for a look

before replicating

the same leaping backstep,

so typical

since that first

historic encounter.


Brashly crashing

If I’ve learned anything about anger, it’s that expressing it to people without restraint, whether they’re people I love or people I only have functional dealings with — like folks at the post office — there is almost always a huge downside that renders that action harmful. Often it even requires apologies, requests for forgiveness. So my bottom line is usually that such anger is without value; does no good at all, in fact does harm. But nonetheless anger happens. What follows is about rhyme and internal rhyme and noise. Noise significant of nothing.


I crash and clang about.

I brashly bang,

my armor dinged.


I all but shout,

but keep it all within,

corrosive acids race without

a chance of release, but doubt

that spewing all this pressure out


would release me from the pain,

my unfocused anger and my pout,

would then produce these flaring spouts

like oil wells flaming out.



Mid-day eclipse under an arbor and through quails’ eyes

These two happened during the same eclipse. Crescents formed from dappled sunlight in the shade of trumpet vines on a trellis, while the quail mom and her brood first emerged and then sought protection under bushes when the sun began to set, then chose to rise again.


Eclipse under an arbor of trellised vines


Crescents of pure light

cluster under the trumpet vines.


Magic circles with bites in their sides,

bitten fruit of the passing eclipse.


A garden of three-quarter-moon lights

appearing here for a few minutes

before resuming their roundness.


Starfish suns

with marvelous powers of regeneration.


Quail note the eclipse and its passing


Thinking it dusk

in the middle of the day,

a family of quail,


emerge, single file,

from the small circle of bushes


to run, in rushing quail fashion,

out across the lawn,

only to be surprised

when the seeming dusk gives way to dawn


and afternoon light pushes

the mother and her brood

back into the shade, confused.




My wife and I were in a store just yesterday chatting with a young man from Liberia who said he’d not seen lions until coming to this country and seeing them in a zoo. Probably lots of folks think going to Africa means seeing lions, like lots of people think coming to Texas means seeing cowboys on horseback.


“Oh, yes, ma’am, of course,”

came my wife’s student’s reply,

so unexpected,


even from someone

recently of Burundi,

when he was asked


the simple question,

had he known anyone

eaten by lions?




O.K., the bride and groom graduated from TCU, hence the significance of the purple Blenko  hand-crafted glass pitcher, which magically made ours an emblem of the Mean Green of UNT, from which both Susan and I graduated.

Magic? Perhaps so….


Like quantum physics

with its logic-defying

sets of principles


and relationships,

when we bought the Blenko glass

purple-hued pitcher,


significant of

bride and groom’s alma mater,

suddenly transformed


was the green pitcher

we’ve had for decades, that’s now

a bumper sticker


for the place from which

I earned my two degrees,

and my dear wife hers.



Ecstatic play for Stan

No explanation needed for this one: cats love playing with shoelaces more than just about anything. Is there a video? If not, there should be.


I tie my athletic shoes

sitting on the edge of the bed

while Stan, the Abyssinian,

with his golden

world-emptying eyes

sees in the dangling

swinging laces

the unfolding of

a jungle gym,

the construction of

a ferris wheel,

the erection of

a tether ball.

Eyes darting to

loose ends and twirling loops

as they move

toward, for me,

the familiar configuration,

for Stan, the State Fair Midway,

recreated right here

in the bedroom.