Friday, September 6, 2019

Seven Thin Amphibians Flat on the Road from There to Here

1. Frog Peak in August

A few weeks ago
Now, we were leaving BC,
The cat, my baggage, and me.

“Traditional Novelties 
And Hardwood Floors” read one sign 
In the wayside woods.

We wondered where that could lead
A cat with baggage like me.
In the car, we drove on south.

In my mind, we turned aside,
Ditched our plans and risked our lives.
In my mind, if not my life,

Weird woods hid rich novelties.
Cat’s out of the bag for me.

2. Gonzaga Exists 

Gag t-shirts said on a rack
Behind the clerk’s back. The clerk
Had no idea what it meant,
Said she never thought of it.

A shopper explained the gag,
Involving a talk-show host,
A basketball tournament
And a school whose fans fought back.

Something like that. Another
Customer wanted to buy
Some lottery quick-pick tix.

“If I win, I’ll know,” he said,
With a deep, froggy laugh,
“Gonzaga indeed exists.”

3. Beware the Eyes of Marks

Someone sang a song
Involving a dozing frog.
That made it a children’s song.

Never trust an easy mark
To keep food from a lizard.
Was this an amphibian,

This lizard? Did he have wings?
Could he breathe fire? Did he look
Like a Yangtze crocodile?

Dragons are amphibious.
Dragons are known to steal things.
I’d rather be the dragon,

That hoe-cake taking lizard,
Long-tailed nanny-oh!

4. I-15 of the Grasslands from a Motel Window
“A messenger, or thief, or liar . . . a great deal to do with language.”

The cat sat at the window,
Watching trucks pass through long grass,
Chattering at a song bird

Singing, mockingly,
It seemed, at the cat,
From a branch beyond the screen.

Between rumble and chatter,
A thin, faint peeping threaded.
What was that again?

The grass was hosting crickets
And, somewhere, hiding a pond?
Was that the sound of small frogs?

No, not in dry Montana,
No messengers in summer.

5. Be a Stranger 

We each have our own sweet spot 
Between the novel 
And the familiar,

The comforting and the strange,
Where experience feels most
Richly exquisite,
And who knows whose is better?

Diversity, however,
Certainly favors
Those with a high tolerance,
Not to say love, for the strange.

I dreamed Buddha was a frog,
Floating on his lily pad,
Blissed to be reborn again.

6. The Rig

Strange binding term.
“I’d know that rig anywhere,”
Said a friend after a year.

I think of the Rig Veda.
He’s thinking of vehicles
With wheels, trucks and such.

My little car’s a tadpole 
With a cat inside, too small
To be called a rig.

I imagine it with sails.
I imagine my life rigged.
I can rig anything up

Once I get started like this.
There’s a frog in my rigging.

7. Something Other Than a Self
“where we raise the dust today / long ago was endless sea”

Never mind being a bat,
What’s it like to be a frog?
Because it needs memories,
Imagination fails us.

The hard problem is trying
To recall what we don’t have,
To recall what we are not,
To recall what we can’t be,

No such consciousness in me.
Late summer dropped its hammer
In the Utah dust.

Everywhere here used to be
Undersea. What first found shore
Was common to frogs and me.

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