A man in a filthy ballcap
sits the curb in front of the Circle K.
The hat reads MUDKATS in red letters so raveled
they sway busily in the random breeze.
go Mudkats, he mutters to himself.

Beside him sits a yellow dog,
an old girl by anyone's account.
The man screams at it, a chorus of names.
"You don't wanna piss me off! Goddamned dog!"
The dog sits very still.
She doesn't want to piss him off.

The man has a rucksack that was blue once;
but now is as faded as his eyes.
It's stuffed with something enough to burst its seams
in several strategic places, but nothing spills out.
Its smell rivals the dumpster parked on a slant
in the back lot.

Later, he pulls a bottle from his sack
and slugs himself sleepy.
He takes off his cap and rests his head on the dog's haunch-
a sleep so deep that someone might steal his cap
if it wasn't for the goddamned dog.


God and the Jayhawke

I found God
holed up with a jayhawke in my corn crib.
They were quietly discussing Cain and knocking back mescal
like nobody's business; certainly not mine.
"He thought I was a vegetarian," said God, "brought me
three sheaves of corn then got pissed because I rejected them;
but I made his parents in my image and everyone knows
that you eat the world or the world eats you-
I ask you, friend hawke, how simple a truth is that?"

Seems Cain rose right on up, iced Abel's ass with a sharp slate;
then offered up a ribroast to granddad in an effort to keep the peace,
because of the corn. " I of course had to send him packing;
Abel was a tough old bird, too tough to tenderize."
The hawke nodded in commiseration while wiping mescal
from his blue breast with one wing.

But Cain prospered anyway; built a city on corn and babble-
"But what can you do," said God, "they are only grandkids after all.
Played too much with the ravens when they were kids;
nasty birds with evil dispositions" The hawke seemed to agree,
his head tilted slightly to the left, the better to hear by.

I walked away then, never an interloper, wondering why
silence can be so goddamned loud; loud enough to wake the dead-
send them slope-footed up my back stairs to sit at my kitchen table,
we, the oldest of friends, comfortable in the weight of our skins,
listening as the stilted truth pushes through a rusty sieve.
You eat the world or the world eats you said somebody in some long ago.
And everyone knows, as God and the hawke will tell you if you ask;
We lie best when we lie to ourselves.