The Grind

A stumpy old molar lives alone in the back of some mouth, like a tombstone at the grave site of all the missing teeth. He reaches up, searching for his mate above, to press against, eager for contact, ready to grind and mash together like crazy young lovers, but alas, she’s long gone. She got the rot and they came and took her.

He thinks they might as well come take him too. Lone molar, a widower with nothing much to do but keep that cheek from caving in. They give him a good flossing now and then, but really, he’s just biding his time, a mockery of function, like a gate with no fence. He can’t even go put in with the smile up there, back of the line his whole life. Front teeth were always so well cared for, weren’t they? Vain sons of bitches.

Well, at least he wasn’t a wisdom tooth. Butt of every dental joke he’d ever heard.


A refinement of the tastes is a projection of superiority orchestrated by the ego. Its cost/benefit boils down to a reduction in opportunities to experience sensory pleasure of the many things beneath one’s high standards vs the enhanced enjoyment of pride.

This axiom is countered by the argument that quality is an actual phenomenon, that some things really are better than others. But qualities are themselves projections of the mind, which in human beings tends to be dominated by the ego.

[slops a dab of gruel into a crude bowl]

Now eat your breakfast and quit complaining.

The Theory of Poetectonics

the theory goes
there’s poetry in everything
perhaps no more palpable
than a fragrance

but undeniably present
it points to its own essence
which, profound in its mute pause
stands on its own, until

the wide earthen plains open
their gaping hungry canyons
and swallow down all the poets
stanza by shrieking stanza,
punctuating this sudden evacuation
with a steamy, satisfied belch


look, here’s the finger bone
of a poet, so this is where
it must have happened

(grim looks are exchanged among
the survivors as they notice
the piercing silence enveloping
the space around them)

the finger bone still
bears its ring, a posy
inscribed in wedding script
around the inside of the band:

“It is astonishing
what it is we think
can be done with words.”


a tiny bronze flea
is set to leap on
a peeing bronze dog
as protest vs counter-protest
devolves into a
microscopic absurdity
about the love and
resentment we all feel
about money



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:





This Baby

He gunned the motor and glanced over at me thinking he looked more like James Dean than he did Burt Reynolds. I didn’t have the heart to tell him. “Let’s see what this baby will do,” he said. There was still some grease on his knuckles, from under the hood where he spent most of his time.

“What baby?” I said, looking around the car. I didn’t see a baby. He scoffed and lit a Camel with his Zippo and clicked it shut like a Shaolin pebble snatch. He dropped it in gear and floored it. As the second stop sign came racing past I raised my finger in point of fact. “We’re not so bad that we can’t die young,” I observed. “What?” he shouted and checked the rear view mirror for cop lights. He was too busy driving for this sort of chit-chat.

Past the city limits the road ahead drew to a point on the horizon. A metallic shudder shimmied through the car’s body as we slipped past the nineties and well into hundreds. The windows down, it was all furious air but with a stubborn silence at the heart of the roaring. The self calming effect of speed as it settles in and grows accustomed to itself. It was like a zone where the urge to cheat death feels as comfortable as a slice of pie.

Death may be hunting you but a fast car and a certain amount of attitude can make the chase a worthwhile distraction from the mundane routine of an hour hand stalking a circle of digits. A young buck’s got better things to do. We spotted a couple of skirts in a convertible at the Dairy Queen and pulled in. Sometimes you have to roll out your own welcome mat. He smiled at them and said, “hello girls.” You don’t have to look like James Dean, so long as you feel like him.

Respectable people call it a misspent youth, but we did our best to keep misspending it well into adulthood. We intended to give retrospect something worth pondering. You could see what was coming and the youthful resistance was naturally slow to come to heel. The first one to get married and wear a tie’s a rotten egg. But you can’t argue with the tides. Better to see your doctor in church than your priest in a hospital.

Seventy years later he disconnected the charger from the self-driving electric transport and said, “let’s see what this baby’s got.” I stowed my walker in the rear hatch and said, “what baby?” I didn’t see a baby. He took a deep breath through the oxygen tube at his nostrils and commanded, “take us to the pharmacy.” An electronic whirring shimmied through the robotic vehicle as it slowed to a halt at the stop sign. We were getting tired by now of cheating death. It was starting to feel the other way around.