The Lofty Wishes of Lofty Fishes

When the Prodigal Cod had delusions of grandeur
This failed to astonish the sea creature girls
Who had seen their pal Cod try to conquer the oysters
Intending to give all his lady friends pearls

And the least in surprise (though in mass the most splendid):
The Prodigal’s closest of chums, Jenny Whale
Who was blue by descent, but in temperament sunny
Watched wryly as Cod began building his sail

With this wing, shouted Cod, I shall leave this wet prison
And fly through the air with the greatest of ease!
My dear friend, Jenny whispered, you already jump
And besides, you’re a fish. Tell me, how would you breathe?

When the Cod’s work was done and the time came to test it
The Whale soon admitted: how wrong could she be?
As the Prodigal soared every day through the sky
(In the part of the sky very close to the sea)

Why We Roam

This was late July, you know?
So what I’m saying is:
Damn hot outside. I mean
Just really flippin’ hot outside
Ridiculously hot outside
You know? The air so thick and humid
Burning on my skin like fever sweat
And blackening my mood

OK, I’m pushing this old mower
And I’m wearing shorts and flip-flops
‘Cause it’s hot outside
(I mentioned that, I’m pretty sure)
And so I get to this back corner
Of our yard, this one dark corner
Back between the shed and fence
That’s almost always in the shade

I kinda shove the mower back there
Really quick, because
That gloomy corner sort of
Creeps me out. You know?
The weeds grow extra thick there
Even though the sun can barely
Shine. And so I shove, and feel the first
Hot stinger pierce my tender foot

And then it’s like the flippin’ blitzkrieg
Man, they’re coming fast as lightning
Goddamn yellow-jackets
Jamming fiery toxic daggers
In my feet and toes and ankles
Even underneath my sandal straps
I did what any normal man would do
You know? I turned and ran like hell

Now roughly two or three hours after this
My wife comes home from work
She finds me sitting in the living room
With ice packs wrapped around my feet
Of course she wonders why, and also
Why the lawn’s half-done. So I
Explain, and say there ain’t no way
I’m going back to get that mower

So, she rolls her eyes and goes
To get the mower, then two minutes later
She comes running back and says
I didn’t see your yellow-jackets
But there must have been
Eight copperheads! The one
Coiled on the mower struck at me
And I’m not going back out there, uh-uh

I figured she was mocking me
(Despite my glaring stinger-wounds!)
So I got up, and winced
(My poor feet called me dirty names)
I went back out there to that corner
And I wish I didn’t have to get
So close before I trusted my own eyes
Were seeing crocodiles

I turned and went back to the house
My wife and I grabbed weapons
We approached the corner carefully
I can’t remember which I noticed first
The smell of sulfur or the smoke
But when the reddish purple demon-thingies
Flexed their wings and turned our way
We ran, and we will NOT go back, uh-uh

A New Commandment

This poem was a response to the following Bible passage:

John 13:31-35 (CEB)

31 When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Human One has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify the Human One in himself and will glorify him immediately. 33 Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer. You will look for me—but, just as I told the Jewish leaders, I also tell you now—‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’

34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

A New Commandment

“Love each other”, Jesus told us
First I thought, that’s not so hard
Just look at us: a band of brothers
Sisters too! United by
Our love for him…and for each other
What could ever break us up?

All this despite our differences
We’re fishermen and tax collectors
Benefactresses and zealots
Even several heathen gentiles!
All of us of one accord
(I wonder where good Judas went?)

But just now I’m reminded, when
That teacher of the law asked Jesus
“What’s the most important precept?”
Jesus answered, “Love your God,
And also: love your neighbor as
Yourself. This is the greatest law.”

Now granted, that was in a different
Gospel, so it may not be
Quite kosher to invoke it; still
It seems to me that loving every
Neighbor is a higher bar than
Loving just this Jesus-tribe

And then there was that time he said
We had to love our enemies
(A bunch of us laughed nervously –
We thought he must be poking fun)
But no, turns out he meant it, and
That’s definitely much, much harder

So I wonder why he’s saying
“Love each other” now, as if
He hadn’t given us much stricter
Orders many times before
He says it’s how they’ll know we’re his
That it will be our brand and trademark

Maybe in the end (Is this
The end? He’s said some things that worry…)
Maybe now he’s thinking that
Those other laws were just too tough
Or else he’s just observing that
They’re practiced both by us and “them”

And either way, he seems concerned
For us, his friends. He says he’s leaving
And that we can’t hope to follow
In his eyes, such tender care
I guess…he thinks we’ll need each other
Guys, we’re going to need each other…


The little smoke-gray cat uncurled
Luxuriously, gradually
Arising from her napping-spot
No longer bathed in sunny warmth
She yawned and blinked her eyes

The high-strung puggle’s ears pricked up
His beagle-lertness heard a sound
Which normally would beg response
In kind: staccato storm of barks
But something stayed his throat this time

The kitty, stretching, looked around
And saw her world, arranged aright
She started walking slowly
From the kitchen t’ward the living room

The doggy, having chosen
To keep silent (based on grounds unknown)
Jumped off the sofa and proceeded
Kitchenward, deliberately

Quite suddenly, the cat received
A psychic feline summons:
To the living room at once!

The puggle, sensing quickening
Accelerated his advance
His short legs moving needfully

The cat hit top speed just in time
To spot the rushing dog’s approach

The puggle’s breakneck dash was not
Arrested by the cat’s advance

Inevitably, crash ensued!

I heard a muffled “blumpf”