California Thrasher

T is for thrasher


Except. . . . There’s no exceptions. He’s a bird

like every other bird. He’s just a bird

and even birders give this bird a pass.

He isn’t like a California Quail.

He’s not a star. And even though he walks

and runs along the ground like quail

he’s not a quail and so he might as well

be hidden in the chaparral. Who cares?

Who ever visited the Pinnacles

to see a California Thrasher when

there’s California Condors to be seen?

And yet, there’s something. There has got to be

a reason why I search the bushes for

this little mimic who pretends that he

is someone else. Perhaps the reason why

I watch for him is that he’s just like me.

It’s Been Four Days

I planted them almost a week ago

and nothing, not a single seed as grown.

It’s not as if I think there should be fruit

that’s ready to be eaten. After all

it’s only been a week, but shouldn’t there

be something poking out? A single leaf

from just one seed? Is that too much to ask?

I don’t expect a bean stalk overnight.

It’s not that I’m impatient but you see

it’s almost been a week. But nothing. Zilch.

I could have built the bloodyTaj Mahal

and flown to Mars or to Uzibeckistan

in half the time the seeds are taking. Grow!

I’ll never have tomatoes. Grow! Hello,

you only have one single thing to do,

so do it! Get your lazy butts in gear.

I am not asking for the moon you know.

I’m only asking for a single leaf.

It’s been almost a week so come on, grow!

Going in Style

The poor defenseless pillows. All are dead,

karate chopped by decorator Ted

who watches kung fu movies on the sly

when he is drunk or when he’s gotten high.

The couch is next and then the table lamp.

He’s in the groove, but then a sudden cramp

in his karate hand. The baby grand

is saved, but not for long. His other hand

descends. Its back is broken just like that.

He turns around. He’s looking for the cat

when the photographer arrives on scene.

“I’m speechless, what is there to say. It is

amazing. Magnifique ! What you have done

is sure to be repeated. Every one

will want their furniture destroyed as soon

as I have photographed this room.”

The praise is graciously accepted, Ted

has done his job again. The room is dead.

Never Satisfied

I have this etching press I want to sell.

It works. It does the job. It’s just too big.

It doesn’t fit. My studio’s too small.

I had this fantasy of making big,

gigantic prints. Prints two by three or four

and so I bought it. Bought this monstrous press

that’s capable of making monstrous prints

instead of prints a couple inches long.

But have I made these giant, monstrous prints?

My prints are just the size they always were,

And I am stuck with this gigantic press

and need to trade it for a smaller one.

For instance, in New Zeeland there’s a guy

who’s making presses that I’m sure will fit

just perfectly into my studio.

Besides, they’re beautiful. The one I have

is rugged, but it’s just industrial

and big. I should have kept my little press.


Imagine you are Alice when she’s small,

and there is a behemoth, a machine

malevolent, with giant cylinders,

that slowly grinds you till you’re paper thin’

Well that is me and that’s my giant press.


Finnegans Wake

It’s the last day of April and the last of thirty poems. So, staggering to the finish there is this:
Finnegans Wake
you notice how the ending dribbles out
to nothing? “a last, a loved, along the “
It’s out of gas. It can’t complete the thought
unless you start the cycle once again
at riverrun, but who would read the thing
a second time or even read it once?
The book is better if it’s not been read.
It’s like a lot of things that’s better left
to our imagination—like this poem.
Once this poem’s written down and read
it’s fixed. It’s formulated on a pin.
It’s dead. There isn’t any movement, life.
It’s static. Moribund. Deceased. And so
there isn’t any poem here today.
It’s left unwritten, left to gestate, and

Making a Book

I’m running out of pages. This book’s full,

so yesterday I took some paper scraps

I’d saved and made myself another book.

It isn’t fancy, only five by eight,

and certainly it isn’t perfect, but

the paper’s thick enough that I can paint

with watercolors, draw with pen and ink,

or sketch in pencil. I can even write

if I’ve a mind to write instead of draw.

It’s just a book, a journal, empty, plain,

and nothing special. Just a simple book,

an empty book but one I made myself.

The leather cover’s green but non-descript.

There isn’t any tooling. It is blank

and empty like the pages. Waiting. And

in time I’ll also fill those pages up.

Eventually. Eventually I will.

Eventually I’ll make another book.

A Lump of Coal

A lump is no big deal. A lump of coal

is not enough to heat a single room

much less an house. It’s insignificant

unless it’s in a stocking Christmas Eve.

And what about a lumpy gravy? It

will taste as good as one without the lumps.

A lump is really just a minor thing.

Unless you’re sleeping on a lumpy bed

a lump is really not that big a deal.

Until you find a lump. And then it is.

It doesn’t matter where it is. It’s there.

It shouldn’t be. How long has it been there

before you noticed it? A day? A year?

And is it just a lump or something else?

And has it grown since you first noticed it?

It’s just a lump you tell yourself. It’s just

a lump. It’s insignificant. A lump.

It’s no big deal. It’s just a lump.

It’s just a lump. It’s just a lump. It’s just . . . .