LUNCH

The pelican has remarkable patience. It doesn’t hurt that he knows how this will play out. It’s pretty much the same, day after day. That’s life on the jetty. Once the crusty old man is done fishing, once he packs up his cart to leave, he will dump his remaining bait fish on the jetty. Or, as the pelican prefers to think of it, the buffet table.

FOUR WETLAND HAIKU

Apple Snail shell
bleached by the sun, empty
happy Snail Kite

Great Egret sitting still
waiting, simply waiting
then flying off

Red-shouldered hawk
staring into the distance
endless patience

Pig frog croaking
but the moon will not answer
we fall asleep

CASSANDRA IN FLORIDA

She is large, and largely immobile
and occupies the bench by the road
that encircles the property like a noose.

She does this each day, a crust
or more of stale bread tucked away
in a pocket of her always floral

housedress that envelopes her
and the bench she occupies
as a monarch on her throne.

The ibis see her coming and gather
at her feet like acolytes awaiting
words from their sage and goddess.

She doesn’t disappoint them, telling
them a tidbit of the world, more often
who was taken sick overnight, who

died yesterday, always a shock
she says, then whispers conspiratorially,
but actually expected, of course,

for everyone here has numbered days,
and then tells them stories of her life,
real and imagined, the veil between

her truth and her fiction now diaphanous.
They grow impatient, but a good queen
reads her subjects and reaches

into the pocket pulling out the crusty
bread, smiles at her flock, says see, I bring
manna and together we cross the desert.

First Published in Chantarelle’s Notebook, March 2019
https://chantarellesnotebook.com/2019/03/22/

NO CLICHES HERE

The birds in this part of Florida
have found a way around the cliche
and we are thankful they have done so.

As we saw last week when
the neighbor’s yard was regraded,
and before the new sod arrived,
the “soil” was mostly sand
and there was not a worm
to be found anywhere.

Yet the birds, early and late
got all they wanted to eat,
for their meals are insects
so from now on I shall have
no alternative but to work
to death the phrase, “the early
bird catches a few insects.”

Do you think it will get any traction?

ODE TO PATIENCE

The jetty is replete today
with tourists, pale as the sun
bleached concrete, stopping
to gawk at the fishermen
who ignore them intent
on watching the sadly still line.

The pelicans sit on the rocks
grooming and posing, talking
loudly on occasion before
spreading wings and flying off.
Out on the jetty a pelican waits
patiently for the fisherman
to pack up for the day, knowing
he will dump his bait bucket
on the concrete and the pelican
will be rewarded for his patience.

PARADE

They strut across our lawn oblivious to our stares. The cat sits watching these large objects, birds perhaps she thinks, but nothing like those she once hunted for food when she was homeless and pregnant. She is content to sit and watch them, speaks a momentary hello, and realizing that they do not speak cat, settles down for her pre-dinner nap.

DUSK

There is nothing like, no
words to adequately describe,
that moment when a cloud-
hazed sun lingers wishfully
just above the horizon, grasping
the sky with brilliant talons
of light, fearing becoming
lost in a darkness that will,
on this night of the new moon,
engulf us all in its inky shroud.

We know, or pray, the sun
will return in hours, just
as the sun knows its work
is never done so long as it
has light to give, hoping
that final collapse is eons away.

As it finally settles beyond
sight, we smile, retreat
to the table and consume
our dinner and wine, our
daily companion forgotten
until its dawning return.

POP-UP BUFFET

The cranes walk together
as a pair, announcing
themselves loudly,
strolling across the lawn
headed for the one yard
where the sod has been
torn out to allow regrading.

The equipment has paused
and they take this
as an invitation, stopping
for a large meal
at the new buffet,
certain that this
was done just for them
and perhaps a few ibis,
should they happen along.

Tomorrow this will be
once again a lawn
and the cranes will
express their displeasure
before looking for a new
place to dine.

HAVOC

They took up shovels,
pickaxes, bare fingers
to pry up the seedlings,
the saplings just taking
root and the seeds
just planted still watered
by the sweat and tears
of those who lovingly
tilled the brittle soil.

They offered nothing
in return, barren ground
where only anger grew,
fertilized by fear, by
by greed, by blindness.

Will we sit by and watch
as promises wither under
an ever stronger, more
glaring sun, as hopes are
blown away by arid winds,
or will we again return
to the soil, start over,
our faith now perennial.

OR CUT BAIT

They sit or stand patiently
on the jetty, a concrete path
jutting out into the ocean.

The old timers have two
lines out, bait bucket
sitting in the bicycle-wheeled
cart parked on the edge
of the jetty’s bouldered margin.

You don’t ask what they’ve
caught, that would be obvious,
and you know they are here for
the act of fishing, and the catch
is that there never is
the expectation of one.