Hummingbird

You would think by now they’d know
That one hole is like another.
The sugar-water will always flow
And they could take turns with each other.

Perhaps it is that they have spent
Too much time watching us;
Watched us push to make the rent,
Shove each other on the bus,

Parking at the mall, pushing for space,
Learned the best goes to the first.
So they buzz and dart and race;
Each wants first to slake their thirst.

Blue Fish Digest~May/June 2015

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High Seas

“Avast mate, show us your colors.
Bosun’ assemble a boarding party.
We’re going aboard.”

An old window shade
Precariously nailed
To a discarded mop handle
Makes the main mast
For the HMS Cardboard Box.

Sometimes we lower the standard
And raise the ‘jolly roger’
When goods and gold are scarce.

No matter what the cargo,
The quest is the thing,
That and the battle’s glory.
I sail again. I’d forgotten,
Till you reached five.

‘Treasure Island’ is alive for us both.
We each brought something to the game;
But I’m taking away most.

published in Blue Fish Digest ~ January/February 2015

A Christmas Memory

No matter where life had carried me I always tried to get home for Christmas and New years. If I managed it I always tried to spend some time with Uncle Dub. Uncle Dub was the family story teller. The last year I was with him was Christmas of 65 and I asked him to tell me a story about his memories of Christmas when he was a boy. I came home and wrote it down as well as I could.

“When I was a young’n coming up”, Uncle Dub said, “times was hard. Our old shack sat way on back in the cypress on about a ten acre hammock. We was dirt poor. We was so hard up we had to use a possum for a house-cat. Mama caught Puss when she was a leetle bitty thing about the size a her darning egg. She come in the kitchen holding her and stroking her, saying, “This baby must’ve got raked off her ma’s back and somehow ended up in the pantry. She’s way to leetle to be weened. I wonder if she would drink from a saucer.” 

She got a saucer of fresh cow’s milk. We had a old cow that had follered Pa home. Mama sot that milk saucer down in front of that critter and it took to it like a cracker to grits. Right then Ma said, “I’m gonna name her Puss just like the cat in that story and we’ll just use her till a real cat shows up.”
In no time Ma had taught that critter to cat. I mean it would play with a ball a yarn and foller Ma everywhere and even come rub on her legs when she were hanging out clothes. It was the beatin’est thing. She even taught her how to me-ow after a fashion though it come out as sort of a hiss-ow but it was perty good fer a possum. Old Puss was a fair stand-in. She done all the cat things exceptin’ kill rats and I’ve since learned lots of real cats ain’t ratters neither. I’ll tell you she served our family well.
“What ever happened to Puss, Uncle Dub?” I asked.
“Well, son when I was about twelve we moved from the hammock to town because Pa had found out a new lumber mill was coming and he had got on there. We rented our first house with running water and artificial lights. Before then we had to run after the water and light a knot.
Well, after we got electrified Ma seed one a them fancy three tiered stand pipe lamps and just had to have one. Pa got it for her on Christmas Eve Eve. That very night the topmost lamp burned out. Pa unscrewed the bulb to carry into town to make sure he got a exact replacement. 
Old puss still had some of her possum ways. She was all time climbing around and hangin’ by her tail. I expect she was one confused critter. She clumb up that pole and sorta wrapped her tail around the top most lamp when the tip went right in the socket and put us all in the dark. When Pa got home and figured out the why of it he put a penny in the fuse box. Once we could see again we realized poor Puss was a goner.
 Ever the practical provider Pa skinned her out and swinged her good with hot iron and we baked her up with a mess a sweet taters but Ma was mighty upsot and wouldn’t have none of it. In fact she never et possum agin and it sorta put a rift between the folks. That was the last Christmas they spent together.”
“You mean your parents divorced?” I asked.
“Lord no! Folks back then didn’t get divorced, nor separate much, but Pa started taking me and Jim and Rufus back to the swamp house for a hunting-fishing week at Christmas and Ma started going to spend it with her family. We was better off then and she could afford to travel some plus it served to sort of free them both of Christmas memories of how Puss died and what Pa had done. 
That was just a few years till the memory weren’t so fresh and they was fixing to have a big Christmas together the year Pa got killed by the load a logs, but that’s just too terrible to think on and cost Ma so much for that fancy coffin. See most folks back then didn’t spring for fancy but Ma said after that log load flattened Pa she some how couldn’t bring herself to bury him in a wood coffin and have him spend all that time till Gabriel trumps and then wake up to that sheet a wood over him again.”
 

HAVE A MERRY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR

Blue Fish Digest~November/December 2014

Dog in the Sun

I envy you your nonchalance.
You never worry in advance.
No future fears, forgotten past,
Attempts to make a moment last.
No willful plans about tomorrow.
No hind-sight causing present sorrow.
I wish that you could teach me how
To leave my past and future now.
To live each second till it’s done,
Just like you live, dog in the sun.
 
Blue Fish Digest~September/October  2014

Daddy

Talk to me a few minutes,
I’ll tell you about Daddy.
I won’t say he was a Christian, though he was.
I won’t say he read the bible daily, but he did.
I won’t talk about his wing shooting,
How he seldom missed, often doubled.
I won’t say he could make a dog
Do almost anything but talk,
Nor that he was kind, gentle,
Forgiving and courageous.
What I will tell you is
Not once in twenty-nine years
Did I ever hear him say,
“Not now, son. I’m too busy.”
Daddy ___ BlueFish Disgest ___ May / June 2014

The Kick Fairies

“The Kick Fairies gave me hell last night. I hurt in a dozen places.”
“Do I dare ask what you are talking about?”
“You never heard of a Kick Fairy?”
“Not till now.”
“Must come from your raising. Lotsa city folks don’t know about the natural nor unnatural world. My Aunt Pittsey Mae used to explain all that stuff to me when I was a lee little young’n. You have heard that when you wake up with knots in your hair the witches been riding. They knot your hair to use as stirrups.
“Heard it from you.”
“Mark Twain wrote about it. You don’t think old Mark would lie.”
“Oh no, certainly not.”
Well, never mind that. Aunt Pittsey Mae used to say, when you go to sleep at night there’s times you wake up refreshed, times you don’t, time you wake up with new aches and pains you can’t no wise explain.
That’s cause of the Kick Fairies. There’s Fatigue Fairies, Kick Fairies, just all kinds. Why when Aunt Pittsey Mae would see a boy that wasn’t all boy, or a girl that had the hots for another girl she used to swear it wasn’t their fault but that the Reverse Fairies had got a hold on ‘em.
She said the fairies were what made all sorts of critters act fool, even cars and tractors. She said fairies were to blame for all sorts of things, both good and bad. She said gremlins, gnomes and fairies had a whole nuther world or maybe it was nether world, and they come around when no one was looking. Some come to bless, some come to curse and some just try to worry and frustrate you no end. There was Drought Fairies, Curdle Fairies, and Souring Fairies. You could just about name it and there would be a fairy in it somewheres.
“You aren’t about to tell me you believe that?’
“Well, yes and no. It explains a lot that doesn’t make sense. We accept stuff we don’t understand all the time. I don’t see much difference in accepting fairies. Makes way more sense than believing politicians and God knows people still do that.
I remember one time reading how some girls in England had convinced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that they had seen Fairies in their garden and a whole bunch of folks was trying to prove it.  Don’t you think if a man that smart could believe in Fairies there must be something to it?
“Where do you get this stuff? ”
“I read a lot, always have. Mama used to subscribe to a bunch of magazines back when I was about ten years old and I read them all. Back then, they all had good stories, by folks with some imagination, fiction and true, but stories was the rule then and I started a habit I never stopped.”
“ How is it that a well read person like you can believe in things like Fairies?”
“ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did. How many folks you heard of believe in ghost? We don’t know everything.  All I know is last night I was laying there minding nobody’s business and suddenly it felt just like somebody kicked me in the calf a my leg and my muscles knotted up something fierce and if that ain’t a Kick Fairy I like to know what it is. I’m just glad I ain’t been troubled by the Drill Fairies.”
“Drill Fairies?”
“Yes, the ones that drill through your skull and steal some of your brains. Every time somebody told Aunt Pittsey Mae something stupid or did something stupid she swore the Drill Fairies had paid them a visit. 
See the bad fairies are sort of in league with Beelzebub but the good fairies hanker more after the old golden rule. 
How you live sort of depends on how serious it gets. The worst I’ve got yet is a now and then visit from the Kick Fairies but some of my family has been set upon by them Drill Fairies so bad and so long why they got hardly nothing left.”
Kick Fairies ____ PKA Advocate _____April / May  2014

What’s In A Name

Deep in a dime novel I bought for three ninety five,
Wondering if my hero would make it out alive.
A gringo from Texas known only as Tex 
Was chased by bad greasers with a leader named Mex.
My mind ricochets like a rocked rifle round.
Went off on a tangent on thoughts less profound.
If a gringo from west Texas was known as Tex
And a greaser from Mexico answered to Mex
Could my next hero be Min from Minnesota
Or could he sport a handle like Dak from Dakota.
Would dudes from the Dakotas be Sou or Nor
Nod, Sod, Nda or Sda. God what are names for?
To avoid confusion, a man needs a name
Or else to be numbered like sports in a game.
Could number eleven still ride for the brand?
Could sixteen and ten help fifteen take a stand?
Would it all get as dull as the old bunk house folk
Who told jokes so long they just numbered each joke?

 
What’s In A Name. ___ PKA Advocate  October / November 2013