In the morning, when it was raining                                                                                  Then the birds were hectic and loudy;

——Delmore Schwartz, from “Poem (In the morning, when it was raining)”

The dust replaced in hoisted roads,                                                                                           The birds jocoser sung.                                                                                                                      ——–Emily Dickinson, from “Summer Shower”

Here we are at the tail end of another dry month in the rainy season, and I can’t help but wonder what it will take to stir the goddess-girl into action. Flattery? Been there, she says. Tell me something I haven’t heard. Awards? What could be more rewarding than lush green hillsides? I ask. I’m thinking that birds might know the secret words that can stir her jaded heart. The first thing next week I am getting a feeder and filling it with the most delicious of seeds. We must stay creative.

I confess, I may be somewhat culpable for our rainlessness. Right before our one big storm hit in December, when the weatherfolk were beside themselves with reports of immanent catastrophe, I went up on the roof to clear the leaves and with the wind blowing preliminary to a gale saw that the 40 foot tall Eugenia looming overhead had seven or eight huge limbs any one of which if it fell would eviscerate my shack. That night I didn’t sleep in my bedroom. The next day I wrote a letter to the landlord of the property in which it grew asking him to prune it.

The hurricane did not materialize; and no limbs fell, but two weeks later a couple of talented tree trimmers took the tree down to a stump. It hasn’t rained since. Is there a connection? Am I now am a tainted emissary? That’s what I wonder, and so am putting bets on birds and their jocoser singing.

When the rooster goes crowing to bed, he will rise with a watery head                      ———an unproven proverb

Maybe a poem with rain on the horizon…


 It’s the last game. Agreed.

I pick up my cards all at once.

“He lets his grow,” says Joe the Wise (guy).

I winnow for face cards, too few,

and once again, “I pass.”


Bits of grit, bugs in fact,

pepper the bowls of pretzels.

“I pass, too,” Mom says.

“Shut the window, the bugs are awful.”

The overhead fan lugs buckets of air.


“What’s bid?” ask Pete who’s deafer.

Whatever it is, he’ll up it one.

Mom’s first cousin, he’s Aunt Pauline’s suitor.

Remarry? No sir. She’d “be crazy.”

She gets dizzy, her legs ache.


Next year she’ll have the terrible stroke.

She gave me a photo last fall,

her face in a smoky oval

(caused by Uncle Vic’s cigars?)

smiling as if good days were endless.


Crickets chirr, we all think rain.

“There’s a bank in the West,” says lucky Joe

but everyone knows it’s only hope,

the sunset shows red beneath it, banns

of cloudlessness and more heat tomorrow.


Pete goes set, taking Dad along.

“Who’s ahead?” asks Joe, knowing he is.

“Well, I’ll be damned, the rookie.”

He knows how far to rub it in.

Almost. “Let’s get Joe,” Dad says.


Another night, another summer

waning. With how many hands

we’ve passed it, dealing, dealt to.

The dark beyond the yardlight?

In God’s hands, presumably. Play.


“Is it my turn?” Aunt Pauline asks.

The sheen on my fingers is talc,

the blood in my veins mercury.

I forfeit the king to set the trap,

holding the sly jack back.


“I never figured you for the jack!”

cries Joe. A gust of pleasure

fans my temples. I open the window

despite the bugs. Scents unfurl.

A vial of lightning spills in the west.





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