for M.V.

Which looms wider, its sky or water? The birds, here, too,
reconvene in greater streaks. This morning I stomped around
Paisano, examining the grasses and soil, the rocks and various
configurations of clouds, and listened to experts discuss
prescribed burns and how the land’s contours can determine
sequence and efficacy. The mockingbird whose territory
we occupy has disappeared. Perhaps he’s just moved on.
I heard a red-bellied woodpecker yesterday, but never saw it,
and of course the rattlers at the ranch are still underfoot, just
less apparent this time of year. I looked closely, as always,
but never spied one. What else did I miss? The rich people
on the bluffs bulldoze habitat, poison creeks and erect their
Italianate villas, caring not a whit for the breeding warblers
or the landscape, although they might pony up a few bucks
for an environmental charity if sucked-up to properly. Given
a choice between the two, I’d pick the snakes every time;
they don’t smile or offer spiked drinks and stories of their
conquests, and usually warn before striking. Even a minor
deity might take offense and crack open a new fault in the
earth between this place and theirs, widening it by inches
with each presumption, every falsehood, whether shaded
in unrelated facts or illogic, until that shifting space could
be spanned solely by a bridge planked with truth and good
manners, and, yes, by mutual consent. Looking back, I
find many examples of these bridges collapsing in utero,
but we keep trying. Your story of the gulf coast storm
reminded me of weeks spent on calm water, and seeing,
no matter where I turned, blue meeting blue, from horizon
to horizon, the sky never broken by bird or cloud, born
anew each day, always looking between, never down.



“Gulf” was published in West Texas Literary Review in March 2017.


12 thoughts on “Gulf

  1. Though NOT for cuddling, I favor those rattle snakes. All they want from me (us) is space, and I grant that. I’d certainly choose rattle snake over most any politician … most overtly pursuing me (us) spewing their poison unprovoked!

    Liked by 2 people

    • This particular “neighbor” was a snake of the worst kind. He purposely trespassed and bulldozed acres of trees and other native flora, in part to improve the drainage on his property, and said that he did it “for the good” of the ranch. He was very Trumpian – had the reputation of taking every dispute to the courts. But this time he relented and forked over a few bucks to mitigate the damage. Of course the trees were destroyed…

      Liked by 3 people

  2. And yes Robert, the gulf is becoming wider … we are the drowned …
    “although they might pony up a few bucks
    for an environmental charity if sucked-up to properly. Given
    a choice between the two, I’d pick the snakes every time;”

    Liked by 3 people

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