Featherless freaks
thin skinned fur poachers
look what all we traded
to be brainy enough
to have worries.

Shivers are the hoarse song
poking in to the tune of life
where our molecules shudder
and shrink and malfunction
in the sluggish low frequencies
that will withdraw
the very beats from our hearts
should our adaptations fail.

Here in Texas we are maneuvering our way back to normal after a shock of extreme weather knocked things about. The agency here that governs power grid management is more aligned with Enron-style market games than it is with the public good, so wish us luck.

Photo: Northern Mockingbird on a cold morning, (CC-BY-SA) 2021, G. Paul Randall


in the end
the folds will close, and
nothing will you save

so tell me how
the resolute are pious
stout and brave

the end is nigh
but by and by, tomorrow
rise and shave

it’s better whistling
in the air, than turning
in your grave

Whistlers first appeared in The Poetry Bar, July 6, 2019.


(SciFi story treatment, 1150 words)

Many aeons ago, an advanced alien civilization began a vast and ambitious program to seed intelligent life across the universe. This noble project saw much success in the distant regions of the heavens, and had some setbacks here and there as well.

The program featured a two-prong approach to the seeding process. On lifeless planets that met the basic requirements, they initiated the new life forms with a protoplasm matrix called Betagen. In locales which featured animal life that met the much more stringent requirements, they inoculated the animals themselves with the matrix Alphagen. The two protogens were basically the same structurally, but each with a different establishing interface. Alphagen was rarely used, as the appropriate life form vessels were quite rare themselves, and the delivery system had to be custom designed for each species. Its overall design was accordingly much less well tested.

At some point, program scouts discovered a small, vibrant, blue-green planet they called M1 which featured a fairly advance animal form that much excited the engineers who oversaw the project. Among the vast variety of types, the planet featured some bipedal mammals with budding brain forms that very much fit the bill. The creatures were rather fragile and vulnerable to the many predators they shared the surface with, but they were bright and clever and were holding their own. Projections showed potential domination of the environment in a scant few hundred thousand solar cycles.

Continue reading “Alphagen-M1”

Craig’s List

So I recently listed an item on Craig’s List out of a desire to sell that item and within a day I got a response from someone who asked, and I quote, “what is the is the least you would be willing to sell this item for?”

I thought about this for a minute and realized I had not even considered what that figure might be. With this, all my anticipated haggling moves were thrown to the mat in one deft judo move. This put me on high alert. I’m dealing with a pro here, I must tread carefully.

It reminded me of that time I was playing Texas Hold’em and was considering going all in, but was doubtful about what the other players were holding and asked, “so what’s everybody got, because I have pocket kings and think this might be the moment I’ve been waiting for.”

Those who even bothered to respond denied holding anything. Well, sure. Poker is a game where liars go to hone their skills. And Craig’s List is a body of water so polluted with scammers that when you do hook a prospect, it is with the sinking realization that the envelope is destined to be light.

We met in a public place and she examined the ukulele, verbally producing a comprehensive list of its defects, many I myself had failed to note. The amount settled upon was 60% of my asking price, and I felt by that time lucky to get it. I was right about one thing. She was good.

As she drove off I noticed that her car was nicer than mine. A lot nicer. But that’s okay. I once raked a fat pot bluffing pocket kings. Win some, lose some.

Cloud Bank

So how much would you likely pay
to have yourself a sunny day?

We'd like to pay the bill in cloud
if that might somehow be allowed.

As currency a cloud is very
like the dollars that we carry.

All puffed up with value there
but marking what is actually air.

All pomp and cheer when we have money
but when it's gone it's not so funny.

We go to pay the tab that's due
what now? Your wallet's clear and blue.

Photo: close-up of an avocado, with effects. (CC) 2021, G. Paul Randall

OMG Shoes!

Money is to the celebration of life what bilge pumps are to leaky boats. Staying afloat is a calculation made in the abstract, dollars being nothing more than IOUs that get passed around from one climber to another in the strange belief that debts are actually being paid.

I’m working on my 2020 taxes and find a weird sense of satisfaction at having earned little in a year that was the proverbial drawing board where I had to tape down the schematics and rework my life. Circumstance maneuvered me into an early and underfunded retirement, a kind of rug yank that left me and a certain global pandemic both finding our footings at the same time. Now I’m a pensioner with a paltry monthly allowance, like some punk being taught a sense of responsibility by well-meaning parents.

Good luck with that, let’s get some shoes!

Bayou Birds

More bird action from Houston’s bayous and parks. (21 photos) Houston Heights Bird Sanctuary, Woodland Park Bird Sanctuary, Buffalo Bayou, Brays Bayou, and White Oak Bayou.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Buffalo Bayou is home to a large bat colony at the Waugh Street bridge and I got to watch a Red-shouldered Hawk trying repeatedly to snatch a bat from under there. It would swoop up to one of the narrow crevices where they nest, and then rebound as there is no perch. The hawk posed for me in a nearby tree in between attempts. It left empty-taloned as far as I could tell. I see red-shoulders here most every visit and believe this to be home territory for at least two.

Downy Woodpecker
Continue reading “Bayou Birds”