Monthly Archives: January 2018

Circling Closer: The Magnificent Frigate Bird

When the pelicans stayed away for the past few weeks, the frigate birds were out in full force. Usually, it seems to me that these birds soar high above, swooping down only to steal other birds’ prizes, but two days ago, when the pelicans and fish came back as well, they appeared by the dozens, swooping down on the beach to claim bait left on the beach after the fishermen cleared their nets. It was an amazing display. Here are some of the hundreds of  photos that I took of them that capture their numbers and antics to a small degree. Please click on the first photo and then the right arrows to proceed through the enlarged photos and to read the captions that tell the story of their visit to civilization:

Circling Closer:


The Magnificent Frigate Bird

They polonaise up higher,
far above the rest.
Not once dipping to the land.
Do they ever nest?

I never see them fishing,
foraging or chewing.
As though their wings are made for art
but are not made for doing.

A gentle crease within their wings
looks folded and unfolded,
but keeps its shape no matter what,
as though it has been molded.

This rhyme is not so fragile
nor so graceful as these birds.
I guess such elegance as theirs
cannot be caught in words.


(I wrote this poem a few years ago and published it in a series of poems about La Manzanilla. It seemed appropriate to publish it again with these photos.)

The Conveyor of the Moon

The moon, a rabbit, a bottle of tequila and a simple Mayan figure of a woman convey to us many of  the legends of Mexico as well as one theory about her naming.  Eight years ago I created a retablo that conveyed this message, both visually and in a story that resides in a chamber within the box the retablo sits upon.  I sold that retablo years ago, but luckily I have this photo and these words that describe it. In case you missed it last time, here it is again:


The prompt today was conveyor.

How Not to Walk a Crocodile


How Not to Walk a Crocodile

I’ll admit, it’s been a while
since I walked a crocodile,
so my technique is rather rusty
and my memory is dusty.
Still, I’ll tell you if you sit awhile
how not to walk a crocodile!

Don’t walk him through the butcher shop.
The butcher will just call a cop.
Don’t visit bakeries at all.
His roar will cause the cakes to fall.
That store where Mother bought her dress?
No place to walk your croc, I’d guess.

And though your pet may need some air,
it’s best that you don’t take him where
small dogs are left out for our viewing
just right for crocodile chewing.
Dog parks do not work for crocs
Find a new place for your walks.

Don’t walk him on your grandma’s floor.
She’ll sweep you both right out the door.
Don’t take him to your Sunday School.
He’s sure to break the Golden Rule.
And if you take him to the deli,
no saying what ends in his belly.

I’ll share a secret with you now.
It is, I really don’t know how
to take a crocodile for a walk.
All of this has just been talk.
And can I guess by your big smile,
you do not have a crocodile?

I guess it was the recent sighting of a croc on the beach at night that sent this little ditty rushing into my head this morning. I would love to have someone illustrate this.  Anyone want to try? Send a sketch of your vision of the croc in one of the given situations. You can either email it to me or put it on your blog and send me a link!
Here’s a photo of the croc that was on the beach near the house I rent. You could see my house in the background if it were light! Photo by Susana Vijaya. (She estimated the croc to be 3 meters long!)

Update: If you’re not ready to leave croc world yet, here’s an oldie but goodie. (Thanks to Marilyn for the memory jog.)

It Was a Tiny Cavity

It was a tiny cavity squeezed under the stair,

and when she chose to hide in it, nobody found her there.
Her mother didn’t know of it. Nor did her dad or brother.
This space was hers entirely. It belonged to no other.
It’s good for girls to have a space for dreams and privacy
to seal away the princess from towers and piracy.
A special place to wonder in. A sequestered place to think—
a place that isn’t ruffled or gingham, laced or pink.
A quiet place for only her to deal with the gestation
of all those massive ponderings that lead to maturation.
In a year or two she’ll grow too large for such small spaces
and she’ll be off to treehouses and other private places.
Until then, do not bother her. Leave that girl alone.
As her imagination she scrapes down to the bone,
a soup of creativity will simmer out of it
and carry her along with it once she doesn’t fit
into that tiny womb your house hid beneath the stair
in case a curious little girl needed a place back there.

The prompt today is cavity.

Return of the Pelicans

I’ve been at the beach for three weeks now and seen nary a pelican.  Magnificent frigate birds we’ve seen in abundance, but no pelicans.  Then, when I finished writing my blog early this morning, a mysterious unsigned message appeared as a comment: 
“The peligans are back.”  Spelling aside, I ran out to see the scene shown below—banks of pelicans soaring in, others resting on the waves, others on the offshore rock and moored boats and floats.  You might guess that a poem evolved.  You’d be right. Photos follow.

Return of the Pelicans

The pelicans come soaring in, completely at their ease
to settle on the empty waves wherever they may please.
They do not ask permission after being gone so long.
They don’t amuse with antics. They do not offer song.
We do not know where pelicans have kept themselves for weeks
when we were looking for them, taking furtive peeks
outside our doors, off terraces, and from our cafe chairs.
We missed their stretched-out funny bills. We missed their derrieres.

We have missed their diving prowess and their flying in a chain.
We missed their grumpy countenances. Missed their bland disdain.
So now that they are back with us, perching on our boats,
messing up our launches, defiling our floats,
we’d like to issue them a welcome, but they do not like the fuss.
It puzzles them, because they feel ambivalent towards us!

Click on any photo to enlarge all.

Smile and say NO!!!!

Smile and say NO!

We stifle our laughter and stifle our sighs.
Flutter our palms to dry out our eyes.
All of these feelings caught up inside,
go back inside us to fester and hide.
What if we simply allowed them to flow
wherever emotions wanted to go?
Let out our laughter whenever it wanted–
in church or in meetings—released it undaunted.

Wherever stupid men try to persuade,
why not use laughter to try to dissuade?
Use it instead of whip, grenades, rifle.
Simply  refuse to stuff down or stifle
our true response to those situations
where stupid men face us with their machinations
for combat and sorties and bombings and war.
What if we simply asked what is this for

really and truly and laughed when they said
it’s to save democracy? What if instead
we faced up to their lies that further their aims
at moving their toys around in their games.
Their tin soldiers turned real and their weapons much bigger,
their fingers are itching to get on the trigger.
How loud the bang, boys? How many lives lost
so all of you big boys can prove you are boss?

It’s laughable, really—your struts and your strides,
your uniforms stiff around empty insides.
Your cronies sell armaments and hire out
to run your war games. That’s what it’s about.
You have your fun and your pockets are padded
once all the kickbacks are sorted and added.
Our founding fathers would pillory you
if they could see what you’ve sunken to.

And since nothing has worked—not writing or talking,
marching or picketing, sitting-in, walking.
Since petitions and phone calls have done not a thing
to put our bald eagle back on the wing,
why not pursue the sane thought we are after
by pure sense of humor? By facing with laughter
this ridiculous posturing new status quo
and, then when we vote, firmly stating NO!!!!!

Within the tribe, much of the censure and punishment in the Native American culture was done via joking and humor. It was a way to censure. Even their war methods included “counting coup” by touching the enemy and riding away in glory, having won points by bravely going into combat without a weapon and without taking out the enemy.  This poem is of course hyperbole, but I do think that humor is certainly a weapon we already us.  Would that more of our leaders would use it when meeting their illogical porkbarrel comrades face-to-face. No doubt it would lead to the reinstitution of duels, and they could shoot at each other instead of recruiting young men to play their war games for them.


The prompt today was stifle.

The Inkling


The Inkling

I haven’t an inkling what I ought to do
about that weird spot on the tongue of my shoe.
Don’t know how it got there, don’t know what its made of.
And such a strange color! I don’t know the shade of
odd pigment that it might be properly called—
somewhere between baby pig and grandpa-bald?

What color is pink to end up on your shoe?
With pink on his toe, what’s a fellow to do?
If there were a shoe wash, I’d go in a blink,
but since there is no sort of place, then the sink
is the place I will go to to wash off this matter—
this slimy soft substance that looks like a batter.

You may think I’m silly to make such a fuss,
to blather and worry and mumble and cuss,
but these shoes are brand new and my favorites, at that—
undeserving of refuse left by the cat.
Now the cat’s in the barn and the shoe is restored.
Almost. Must that shadow just be ignored?

I’ve dined out on this story ’till friends are all bored.
As they approach me, I hear them say, “Lord,
protect us from more boring talk of his shoe.
Please let him not mention that gloppy pink goo.”
They may call me a heel, these folks I’m among
as I tell them once more how the cat got my tongue.

But I can’t abandon those images that
that mess on my shoe was left by the cat.
On what innocent creature might she have dined—
its tiny pink corpse so sadly reclined
on the tongue of my perfectly saddle-soaped shoe?
My friends will not listen, so I’m telling you!!


The prompt today was inkling.