Thursday, June 18, 2015

GET ME OUTTA HERE, BUD! (Pt. 2: Cactus Wren.)

I detected a shrill airborne commotion in the backyard, a dozen birds raising an “alarum” that someone with a short attention span might’ve characterized as a “peep show” but in reality involved an extended family of considerably distraught cactus wrens. A few beats later, my dog, The Reverend, appeared at my side, while I typed very important sentences into my computer. He stood there, breathing, which made me look. There, in his mouth, squirmed a cactus wren, bearing an electric expression like, “Get me outta here, Bud!” I produced a baseball cap, upside down, and asked The Reverend to deposit the cactus wren into the bowl of the cap, and he complied. Then, I took the cap outside where I repatriated the bird onto a low branch of the honey locust that grew across the fence from the property beside a neighbor’s shack. The cactus wren, still stunned, hopped around amid the great cacophony of his kind, no telling whether the chime of wrens still whistled over the initial loss of their mate or whether the chime of wrens whistled in identical hysterics upon his rejoining the herd, but he hopped around and the chime chimed wildly. (“Alarum” and “great relief” as equals.) At first, The Reverend cocked his head in disbelief, the same erect-ear, one-fang, misty face he’d made, once, when he encountered the cerebral music of a turtle flute, but eventually he drifted around, as aloof as possible, after I’d disappointed him once again in his gift-giving. When I’d had enough of his demonstration of aloofness, I sliced up some “training salami” and made him cycle through his tricks, including the irresistible trot around and be handsome as hell. I wondered if The Reverend and I were being too provincial in our navigation of the elements, such as cactus wrens, that governed our environment. I didn’t know anyone named Vince so I couldn’t profess to be pro-Vince, or for that matter, con-Vince, since I certainly didn’t know a Vince who might be kept under lock and key. I concluded that, if your shoe size is large, you will encounter a future of no small feats.

GET ME OUTTA HERE, BUD! (Pt. 1: Lizard.)

The lizard occupied a cupboard for a couple weeks. Every time I opened the door, I found him clinging to the wall, flicking his tongue above the dusty sack of green-and-yellow split peas. If he moved overnight, while I slept, he’d returned to his post before I groggily reached for honey nut cereal the next morning. His eyes rolled around googly but he wouldn’t dart off, perhaps thinking himself invisible. As far as lizards go, I wouldn’t have described him as gigantic, although big enough that I remarked to myself “Nah” when considering a shock move to eject him manually. My dog, The Reverend, had brought him to me, as a gift. I kept the back door ajar in summer as the swamp cooler wouldn’t function without a source of air; the door ajar enabled The Reverend to frequent the fenced-in yard, as a dog of his namesake saw fit. He arrived at my chair, while I typed very important sentences into my computer, with the lizard in his mouth. The lizard looked up at me with an electric expression like, “Get me outta here, Bud!” I asked The Reverend to drop him, a request that he honored, but when the lizard scampered away—first to the closet, then to the bathroom, then to the ceiling—The Reverend ignored me with enviable disassociation until I began to fry turkey burgers on the crumbling backyard grill. He and I sat together munching burgers, while hornworms (unbeknownst to us) munched the sweltering tomato plants in late afternoon shade. I un-bottle-capped a beer, one that The Reverend projected little interest in, before he laid his muzzle across my feet. The two of us, two men of the world, weltered in place. I experienced great wonderment at that juncture. People labor for decades before they re-tire, I noted; it seems like quite a long time before changing radials. The Direction of Man, I lectured The Reverend, in my philosopher-king voice, is either north-northwest or north-northeast, depending on whether he is left or right-handed: it has nothing to do with the Coriolis Effect. Time is both servant and oppressor, I added, damn its dispassionate reports!

Thursday, June 4, 2015


The word of your name returns as echo. It is my voice but watery, heavy with final syllable. The sound skips across the rain-dark plane of the afternoon.

An echo can originate anywhere: valley, wall, person, recollection, theory, guesswork. One must traverse-try; one must envision the striking-surface. Will I grow expert in the forlorn art?

The object receives the skill of the inquiry. The cleaner the return, the closer the object. But proximity may be a map, the coordinates where echo may originate, in minutes and seconds.  

Proximity might be painful but echo requires neighborhood. If I am to find you, I must suffer through the possibility of shape bent-against blurry color. (Imprecise, me.)

What is echolalia? Echo et alia? As if there were echo + echoes, which confounds the mission to discover. The inquiry at a remove; the jangle of clashing voices + directions.

If the echo never varies. The same stolid note, a clatter in place of language. An echo becomes a bird. An echo becomes a bird climbing through the echo of mistranslation.

A realtor might say: “Echolocation! Echolocation! Echolocation!” I imagine you finding this witty, whatever your state. Laughter, I realize, might disarray the apparatus that sustains you.

Lightning hacks through air toward a tree. The very same splintering noise, a limb separating from the tree. These two at once, lightning and the heavy wood tearing from its trunk. 

What I mean is, I am trying to locate you.

Many years ago, I concluded a poem by writing [that I] try to catch echoes with my hands. At last, I know what these words mean. I will persevere.


Voices acquit where clouds clot. Half-watery after-light 
amid the evening’s apron of bruised wind. Moon’s month, 
glassed-in. It begins to snow in the mind of a sycamore.