The Best Laid Plans

Pounder McGurrell was a very fine squirrel,
and he hoarded his nuts with a miserly zeal
in the stump by the dump
and the hole near the pole.
He had no fear of missing a meal.

Pounder McGurrell was a very fat squirrel,
and by any squirrel’s measure as rich as a king.
He would crash on his stash,
snooze and snore, dream of more!
And he wasn’t afraid of a thing.

Pounder McGurrell was a satisfied squirrel,
with a pride-swollen heart in his oversized breast,
but he woke with a croak
to sustained, pounding rain.
The typhoon liquidated his rest.

Now Pounder McGurrell is a dog-paddling squirrel,
as he watches his nuts float away.

And that’s all I’m going to say.

The Ballad of Bad Luck Joe (or) A Whale With Much to Bewail

Eels and seals, buddy Joe…oh, I think I might know
Yes, I think I might know why your tummy’s so sore
Oh for hairy Pete’s sake, good compadre, tough break
I’m afraid you just swallowed a human

What was that, cheerless chum? Yeah, well, where I come from
All the whales tell some tales about humanish folk
Maybe songs of hot doom when they come with harpoons
But a lot of the stories were comedy

And the one common thread that ran through all they said?
It’s that humans are smart, but they surely aren’t wise
They will make their bold plans to impress fellow man
Then they end up inside a whale’s belly

What does all of this mean for the one near your spleen?
Well, I wish I had sunnier news to convey
Here’s the positive part: he’ll most likely depart
But what damage will he leave behind?

Will he tickle your throat with an oar from his boat?
Or instead fill your head up with smoke from a fire?
Well, whatever he’ll do will be no good for you
That’s a thing that I sadly can promise

But the worst of the worst (if you don’t, in fact, burst)
Will be all of the garbage that he leaves behind
And for weeks, Joe, your breath will smell awful as death
Because men are smart, foolish…and dirty

A Vigil Song

Well the horse, she escaped nigh twenty days ago
But we’re told she’s been seen in these parts, and so
Now the bulldog and me, we are setting up a camp
With some apples as lures, a coil of rope, and a lamp

And we wait, and we wait, and we wait
For the coming of the horse

Saw a rustle in the bushes maybe half an hour past
Was a doe (turned out) and golly, she was going fast
‘Part from that it’s been nothing but squirrels and birds
Though the dog barked once at some noise that he heard

And we wait, and we wait, and we wait
For the coming of the horse

Then as sudden as a thunderclap the horse charged up
And she froze stock still on seeing me and the pup
I approached her with an apple held out in my left hand
She spied the rope in my right, spun and ran to beat the band

And we wait, and we wait, and we wait
For the coming of the horse

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)

at the mount of autonomy

at the mount of autonomy, jennifer grinned
it was clear that this summit was where she belonged
she had put in her time in the valley of innocence
listening upward, she swore she heard song

with vitality born of insatiable thirst
she put flatness behind her and started to climb
and she needed no rest, for her power was vast
as her altitude rose she made excellent time

it was only when she’d attained high elevation
she noticed her path was not solely her own
and her fellow adventurers tossed aside garbage
the mountain was covered in waste that they’d thrown

and the trail was now crowded with putative grownups
whose seeds (sowed in folly) would bloom very soon
so jennifer wept, then walked on with new urgency
picking up trash and composing a tune


at the rear of the hospital waiting room
stands a trio of vending machines
and each one’s equipped
with a credit card reader
that’s pretty convenient i guess

so the one on the left offered pepsi
(i mean diet of course)
so I swiped

and the vending machine called its captain
who decided my credit was good
and it gave me a bottle of zero-cal pop
which was roughly as warm
as some freshly-made pee

as i looked at my bottle
of summery soda
i thought of my poor wife’s
abdominal pain

(which was sudden
and awful
and why we were there)

and i said
this is nothing
this urine-like beverage
it’s not a thing
i should be bothered about

and besides
i could see
that machine number three

had coke zero

in the valley of innocence

in the valley of innocence, jennifer faltered
quite suddenly she was uncomfortable there
and she didn’t remember her reasons for coming
she couldn’t recall how to breathe such clean air

and the problem was not that she didn’t feel welcome
(the valley would throw wide its arms to us all)
while the land opened to her, benign and inviting
to jennifer’s eyes the place just looked so…small

could she really remember a time when the tips
of the trees in that wood rose above line of sight?
and the ramparts protecting the bounds of the glen
…now that she could step over them, didn’t seem right

so a half-smiling jennifer left that green land
in her eye was a look like a cat with a toy
that she’d just realized she’d completely dismembered
it wasn’t a sorrow nor fully a joy