Lemonade stand

Our first summer in Dallas

In mid-afternoon heat

We had a lemonade stand


Put up signs

Squeezed lemons

Made sugar syrup

Followed a recipe

The lemonade was just right.


We sat on the lawn


Wondered where all the people were.

If a lemonade stand wouldn’t work

In this heat

With our signs by busy roads

(and free ice water!)

What hope was there?


We sweated.

The little boys were bright boiled pink

Collectively we acquired 40 new mosquito bites

Most of them on sweet Lenora


Finally two women from down the street

Walked over with their little dog

They bought lemonade with quarters

They stayed to chat

They let the little boys feed sticks to their dog.


They were so nice

We were able to write the whole thing off

As a success.

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There are fossils

In these giant sandstone blocks

Shelled swimming creatures

Peering millions of years

Through the golden grit


Somewhere some seaside cliff

Was hewn

Giant brick by giant brick

And somehow found itself inland


To house these clear blue waters

That would make them recoil

Choking, shells peeling with the poison


But taking the long view

Which they must

Water and wind will blast each fragment away

The dust and sand

Will cover the earth

And at last

They will be all knowing


Looking through the glass

Doing eighty on the interstate

I saw an alligator


It was exactly where it should have been

Absorbing warmth

In diffuse gray light

At the edge of dark water

Mottled by duckweed

It’s back was a smooth black tilework



For the road

To sink back into the black sucking earth

For the cars

With their troublesome cargo

To wash away

Into piles of rusty debris

For molten rock

To pour freely

And the sky to darken with ash

The house

The house sits, empty-eyed

There are daffodils, improbably coming up along the walk

Planted in some livelier time


Behind the tall metal gate

There used to be a dog

Whose coat was like quicksilver

with harvest moon eyes

That didn’t invite trust

Inside, living also in the twilight tones

Was the owner

Who kept no regular hours

But was visited by SUVs

For brief transactions only

The windshield of his own

Gleaming safari car

Was spidered by what certainly looked

Like a bullet hole


The house sits blank and tidy

Sometimes mail sticks, wedged in the slot

But it always disappears

Inhaled, perhaps

By the house itself

As it waits to see

What is next


It was unclear whether the boys saw him

When they heaved the rock

Into the muddy water

Timed just so that

The water splashed through the chain link fence

And onto his dry khaki pants


Their skin nut brown and their hair smooth black

One all curves and one all angles

Their eyes grew big

As they saw the rage gathering

On his heavy red face


The skinny one hid behind his cousin

As if behind a tree

Peeking his head around to watch

And both danced with light feet

Like pups

Ready to run if chased


It only took a second or two

For everyone to realize

The man was too old to jump the fence

And would stand only to lose his dignity

Trying and failing to catch the prancing boys


They expected, at the very least, a dressing down

That they could mimic later

In the safe shade of the crepe myrtles

But his earphones

Still playing a lengthy discussion of the aluminum tariff

Seemed to render him speechless

And then with his collie

Tugging on the leash

He had to settle for mustering

A Fearsome Glare


He stopped a few more times along the fence

To stare at his pants

And to fire off further Glares

But the boys were long gone

Laughing and chasing

And they passed right by

Bike thief

He was only trying to do a good deed

Picking up the yellow bike

From where it lay in a ditch


In the jungle

The kids call it

There are vines twisting around the trees

Caressing and half-choking them

Hanging down in curtains

Thorns that snag

Pairs of hawks swooping limb to limb

And even, once, a snake

So that it’s easy to forget

Not a half-mile away

There’s a gas station, a liquor store

And tacos


You must unlock me to ride me

Or I’ll call the police

The bike was suddenly a she

And the deed took on a more sinister cast

As he held her over his shoulder

Carrying her over logs

And through clots of ivy

Breathing with the effort


You must unlock me to ride me

Or I’ll call the police

Why must all our passive voices

Even electronic

Be female

Someone tell the bros out in California

That I’d like to ride a bike

That is male

And I’d like to order James

Or Evan or Derek

To add coffee to my grocery list

To play some music

Not that music

To tell me a joke

And the weather


He set her down by the road

Where she could be collected

And finally

She was quiet


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