Indian Peafowl

Where on earth do things come from?

Everything is introduced to its environment, like the Indian Peafowl was to its range in North America. They are native to the Indian continent but no one talks about where they were before that. They have been introduced to many locales around the globe, where they form semidomestic or feral colonies. Here, they ignore their domestic heritage and roam free, yet they are not wild. Two of the females walked right up to me, in the manner of domestic pets. About a dozen there that I could see, on a rural stretch of the near-west end of the island.

I’d heard about them, and I had seen several in a ditch a couple of years ago. On this day I stopped and we visited for a while. The females are described as drab but up close they look striking. Big beautiful eyes with a dress of delicate pompoms on the head, bright turquoise and green on the breast.

The males are haughty and spectacular, familiar to almost everyone on the planet. They kept their distance across the road from where I stood.

There are stories but there are no true stories, everything is based upon something. Collections of fact are called nonfiction, a term in denial about the relationship between fact and what we imagine to be absolute truth.

We are ever where we find ourselves. Relative things abide in the complete absence of non-relative conditions, established as things only in relation to other such things. The contemplation of such truths does not seem to have a payoff so they remain, mostly unexamined.

There is no absolute peahen, though there she is, if appearance is taken as true-penny.


they express to us often
our customers, that their relationship
to books is sacred

and I don’t push my view
that it is the right to publish
and read freely that is sacred

it’s their business
if they want to practice idolatry
or view their shelves as altars

the books themselves are
no more durable than the
knuckle skin

of a man heaving soaking
wet books by the boxfull
into a dumpster

but, we do understand
these bound signatures are
in fact the medium

of something more potent
than mere talk, or knowledge
that has never been shared

and not just objects
to be bought and sold
by jaded, heartless merchants

I work at the used book store in Galveston, Texas, where our neighbors on the mainland to the North have been flooded catastrophically by a week of unrelenting, unimaginable rain. We got enough water in the store to ruin some of our used stock, and were back up and running a day later. Can’t stop thinking about our big sister Houston, and her suffering right now.

Hurricane Harvey, 2017

Sunday Brunch

Last Sunday, at the east end of Galveston Island, a diverse gathering of waders convene in one of the Apffel flats retention ponds, enjoying brunch, feeding casually like at a banquet where you’ve rented the hall and are in no hurry to leave. The egret appears to be the leader but I’m guessing she would just as soon be fishing on her own. The stilts and the ibis do seem a bit cliquish but it is heartening, isn’t it, to see different varieties commingling and at peace. The brown ibis are immatures, ready to molt into adult plumage in a few months. Continue reading “Sunday Brunch”

swimming trunks

hotcake foreheads
the beads on my brow
sweat lodge under arms

salt lick of a sky
counting gulls to sleep
on a colorful towel

the sand on that fat man’s ass
blows free as he stands
getting into our eyes

sprinkling our sandwiches
the fat man’s name
is probably Sanders, I mutter

no, you shut up
the gulls are laughing
they think it’s funny

she rolls her eyes
then squints them tight
fat man ass-sand

is everywhere now
the scent of his suntan oil
in our noses

the grit crunches as we chew
it was your idea to
have lunch in the dirt

your idea of the ocean
replenishing some essential
minerals in this maladapted

asthma-ward nurse uniform
of a relationship long ago fallen
ill watching late night TV

oh fuck all, give Sanders
the rest of this chicken salad
and let’s just go

she’s getting angry
why must we always fight
at the beach?


among the driftwood, bits of plastic
a length of rope, a desiccated flip-flop
a tiny plastic shovel, a bottle cap
an age of unbridled thing-mongering
leaves a death bed confession on
a beach strewn with the corpses of
the defectors who threatened to talk

Wood Thrush

The kitchen windows are tall, light celebrating, and sometimes deadly. Inside, the rusty old icebox is bright and cheery, illuminated by natural skylight. It’s a pretty cruddy old kitchen, but man, those windows.

From outside, the windows reflect leafy green pecan backed by blue and white sky, and a Wood Thrush, who was beguiled completely by the illusion, flew smack into them. I heard the thump from the other side of the apartment and thought that someone had chucked a small log at the side of the house.

I checked outside and there she was, stunned, perched in a crouch on the deck. Her mouth open, as if to emit cries, but no sound came out. She closed and opened her eyes slowly. I sat down about two meters away and offered some Medicine Buddha mantrum, loud enough for her to hear.

In about ten minutes she shuddered and shook, perked up and looked around. Still stunned, I imagine, she finally notices me. I am now fighting back tears as I ponder the pain of having slammed full speed into something so hard and unyielding. I really though she might just die right then and there, but she began to exhibit movement and awareness.

I am still reciting prayer as she regards me with suspicion and begins to hop away, tentatively at first, pausing after each move to re-assess, and finally hopping up to the lowest deck railing. A flutter of wing and she flies up to a branch on the pecan, a safe distance from the murmuring weirdo.

I curse myself for not thinking to defeat the mirror-like quality of the windows by lowering the blinds, and get up to do so immediately.

This is the rear deck view at my apartment on the residential East end of Galveston Island, TX. The birding is pretty good here right out the back door. It’s Spring migration time on the Gulf Coast and we’ve seen many migrant songbirds in the last week or so.



you’d already gone
when I found your signature
in feathers, hollow bones

I found this Clapper Rail the other morning, dead on the side walk in front of the book store where I work in downtown Galveston, Texas. I am a bit perplexed at the implications of this strange event, as this is one of my favorite local birds and I feel a kind of kinship or affinity with them. They are somewhat secretive marsh inhabitants, virtually never seen away from the reedy wetlands where they live. I wonder what connection I may have with this creature, that it strayed so far from it’s natural digs only to expire in a place I was sure to find it?

Some Clapper Rails I have photographed over the last few years:







four coyote crossed my path
one hundred yards up the oyster shell drive
on Pelican Island early one day

all five of us took pause
for just a few civilized moments
to size up the situation

these were not the birds I was after
but I aimed the lens and took my captures
before they continued off the trail

we call such animals wild
but who can claim to keep the peace
breathing the air under such a sky