Thursday, December 20, 2012


JH says "two thousand twelve gets closer every year"
this was two thousand four
Los Incas on the turntable and
really dinosaurs stalking annelids in the wet grass
and the San Pedro stew setting in

JB says "don't wear out that jacket"
or, "don't wear that jacket out"
or maybe, "don't out wear that jacket"
the meaning melting off the words and
I'm dumbly out wearing a brown suit coat with green paisley lining

BE says, not much really
On Land wooming out the open windows
of the Volvo wagon as we roll up
Hi Mountain Road and
unnamed Cretaceous sandstones are budding across the ridge

AK also quiet in aviator glasses
when we get to the peak and stroll to the lookout
a woman, a volunteer, a docent, a wildlife biologist
I'm not exactly sure
is wanding a radio antenna left and right in long slow arcs

CL says "we had number 22 fly over last weekend, I could see the wing tag"
we all look up
"She's not there now"
Rufous Hummingbirds are zipping and flitting
and later the sky busts open into Paracas tapestry

stop me if you've heard this one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A parable:

Coming home from Bells Bend, on a failed jaunt to see the Whooping Cranes.

Drove past this fellow once. Heroically midway in the oncoming lane. I am aware, thanks to the internet, that people regularly intervene in chelonian road-crossing events. It is a thing. It is done.

"Flipped a bitch" with the help of a gated drive. Now (then) I've got a Lexus behind me with the box turtle square in the left tire kill zone. Pointedly I ease over onto the shoulder and around the little man with a wide berth. I hope the Lexus is watching.

Now past the turtle, Lexus is rapidly approaching with no sign of deviance from its luxury path. Rotten phytoplankton from Tethys, Caricao, Gulf, Central American Seaway, North Slope (ichthyosaurs flipping about the Otuk/Shublik seas) who knows, sparked by artificial lightning cast by fingers of metal and clay, fed by atmospheric oxygen spewed from the cells of the lineal descendants of the same dead plants, exploding in the cylinder, pushing the piston, cam, camshaft, torque, drive line, axle, hub, rubber tire, strange alchemy of atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere.

And I'm all, "nah dude, turn, turn, turn, turn,"

And the Lexus veers.

And I continue on past the road crew that's eyeing me with suspicion now for too many passes (but there will be one more!)

And onto the sod farm road. Three point turn, and around again. Past the Osage Oranges and Hickory Trees, up onto shoulder. Hazards on. Now approaching the reptile who is just to the double yellow.

Who sees me, and hunkers down, sealed with a hiss.

I like the way this turtle feels. In my hand. Heavy for its size. This is how the experts suggest you select a cantaloupe. The anterior marginals are dinged. Maybe a past very lucky run-in with the terror machines or who knows what. And I walk it to the far side of the road, hoping we can read a turtle's intention by the vector orientation. Anyway. What else can I do?

On finishing things:
feeling doomed
and not halfway done
passed by fate
shielded by fate
ferried by fate

it's enough to make you worship beardy dudes in Subarus.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

forced poem

brevity is the soul of suck

Saturday, September 29, 2012

word problem

Q54. One bird weighing 7 g departs Pelee Island, Ontario travelling southwest at an average rate of 43 km per hour on September 13th experiencing an average westerly cross wind of 10 km per hour. A second bird weighing 11 g departs East Fork State Park on September 17th travelling due west for 134 km at an average rate of 21km per hour with an average headwind of 6 km per hour before turning south and continuing at the same rate, experiencing the same 10 km per hour westerly crosswind as bird number 1. Assuming that daily foraging time for each bird is inversely proportional to mass divided by average daily energy expenditure and each mile travelled requires 4122 calories.

On what day will each bird arrive in Nashville?

There are several approaches to solve this problem:

Start with
the right-hand-rule,
I = S cos Z
where Z =
cos^-1(sin 36.1658º
sin [{23.4º*2
23.4º}]+cos 36.1658
cos [{23.4º*2
*266}+{11.5[23.4º*2/(365.242/2)]+-23.4º}]cos 15º(Time-12)
and the ever slanting 
dance of light filtered
through the understory;
the lingering chill 
in the dew
,and the lightning bugs
snuffed out like 
a subtle twist in the
seat of the soul
and the
call of

the heuristic approach:
watch the 12-day forecast
read the bird listservs daily
note the field marks
and check Sibley repeatedly

Or, for extra credit
integrate the obliquity,
precessional terms

Thuban drifts and winks over Gizeh
ice swells in the valleys 
and pours down across the continents
blitzkrieg by the millimeter-per-year
the little refugee camps 
adrift among the
playing the
Hardy Weinberg game
to pass the time

and the continent itself creaking out
and aft and up
like fingernails 
(everyone is always saying)

and even before that
the ripple through the Flora Family
the Devil's Tick
like a thumbprint pressed into wet clay
and later South America creeping up
to kiss the scar
down where the bugs never disappear
and the leaves never turn

and anyway all of these approaches converging
on the same results

olive and yellow 
    from the sky 
and into our garden

on the crisp, unseasonably cool days
around the autumnal equinox
of 2012

and it's almost enough to make you think
the Mayan Long Count had it right
all along

Friday, July 27, 2012

The thing about

The thing about Stinkeye
and his family
and Büblè 
and his family
is you move
to a new city
and these guys
and their families
are some of your first

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Poem for the posthuman commensals

the fields lie all fallow
the harvest is done
the cats are all feral
the mice breed and run

the barns tilt and bow
filled with swallows and owls
the chimneys are crumbling
swifts flood through the cowls

the cellars are sodden
now spiders hold court
the carpets are rotting 
and beetles make sport

the beds are unmade
the pantries are bare
the bug and the moth
must now seek other fare

with Germans, Norwegians, 
Americans expired
the rats and roaches
chart brand new empires

ghost fleets in the harbours 
list, founder and rust
the seal and porpoise
do not find it unjust

though lost in the shuffle
some lice a few mites
few lose any sleep
over parasite rights

the house is still home
for the finch and the sparrow
but no more will be built now
for time is an arrow

Monday, May 7, 2012

Stegner's Last Towhee

Somewhere past 
La Panza
roadrunner runs across the

and freezes 
with wings half-outstretched 
(a gesture shared with the
mockingbirds outside my window,
flushing up bugs across the
street and waging endless running battles
with the noisy robins
a perpetual avian gang war 
raging in 
this new old Nashville neighborhood)
perhaps to stun some torpid reptile
into fatal ectothermic hesitation,
or maybe as a futile bluff against the car,
this dead machine so brutally indifferent to
the subtle body languages of animals,
no way to tell
the great ground cuckoo
 (whose >< -shaped
zygodactyl footprints 
point forward and backward likea pair of antithetical logical operatorslocked in mutual nullification ormaybe reflected angles diverging toward infinite horizons 
past and future)
is already disappearing in the 
rearview as I silently name each bird
we pass as we wind down the 
entirety of
highway 58
red-tail, turkey condor, scrub jay, towhee, red-tail, quail
from my natal grounds about
the foggy upper reaches of the 

and out across the sodic wastes 

and proto-solar scars of the 
red-tail, kestrel, meadowlark

and over the gentle
earthly undulations of the 
San Andreas 
magpie, meadowlark, goldfinch, red-tail

and down the surprisingly 
short sharp scarp of the 
scrub jay, acorn woodpecker, crow, red-tail

and into the mostly motionless 
pumpjack forests 
of the McKittrick oil patch
starling, blackbird, rock doves

and out onto the not quite
completely-drained marshes
along the southern shore of
old gone 
Tulare Lake
littered with cotton and plastic

and great piles of Russian thistle 
stacked against the barbed-wire
egrets, harrier, gulls, starlings, blackbirds
through gritty 
fast food and cheap fuel

and up, way up,
past the great cursive loop
that carries trains over the
where my good old gone dog 
Moose first puppy-frollicked 
in the snow

and Clyde now
in the back is 
nervous going 
up and over 
for the first time ever
(here where Laura Cunningham 
says imperial woodpeckers and thick-billed parrots
once, maybe, flew!)
and past the giant cement factory of 
turkey condors, ravens, kestrel, red-tail

and down, down, down
between the giant white 
turbines slicing deadly huge
scythe-arcs through the sky

and the weird experimental
egg-beatery ones that must
have been a failure since
I never see them in any
other windfarm

and into clear 

and, even on this January day,
somehow blistering
past the glittering jet junkyard 
where the great
old yuccas have
replaced the oaks and pines

and junipers of the morning,
grackles on the move 
reserves for the vanguard 
wave pushing north toward 
Oregon already,

and then past
where great sweating teams eighteen mules

and two horses
dragged minerals out of the deserts 

and into the factories and wash basins
of the world 

and now I have either forgotten my game
or the birds are hiding 
in the hard, bright shadows
of the late afternoon desert in winter

and now a bathroom break
in Barstow 

and then onto the flat
black ribbon of interstate 
that will carry us to Arizona
with a choking radiator
into snowy Flagstaff,
Gallup, Alburquerque,
Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas,
Missouri, Illinois, Indiana,

and finally
down into Tennessee
right into this house

and this chair. 

But sitting here I still think about
that fat, spice-colored bird
–the one who once walked in through the open 
kitchen door, picking up errant quinoa 
from the floor, 

and I looked up from this computer,
2000 miles away,

and I said, "hey! what are YOU doing in here?" 
–way back in California.