Tag Archives: tree frogs




I’ve got no complaints,
but with all the details
the gods must attend to,

it’s not surprising that
some get overlooked.
Too good to be true,

the gods may be lazing
in a Max Parrish painting,
our fate more accident

than meant, but
still good to think
they’re paying attention.






I regret to report the creek
is still too high to cross,
running muddy with white caps

                    where summer cobbles baked
                    beneath bleached moss
                    housing aquatic bugs—little
                    towns anticipating rain—

a month’s work on the other side:
clearing roads of trees, fences
under limbs, slick black calves
waiting to be stretched for an iron

and I’m inside polishing poetry
instead of oiling my saddle
I’m almost too old to ride.

No one behind your desk
to report to for twenty years,
no one to argue how to spend
time and money improving
how to get the work done
when the creek subsides.

                    I’ve yet to learn
                    where the tree frogs go,
                    four years drought
                    between symphonies.

I regret to report I’m tired
of the world beyond our fences
where there is no truth,
no beauty left in the storm
of news I’m addicted to
waiting for my daily fix,
each outrageous episode
is drama enough

                    to keep from thinking,
                    to keep from working
                    to keep from wanting
                    anything more than
                    where the tree frogs go.






Their song has survived hard ground,
the dry and dusty years, the dead and dying
trees without moisture, brittle broken roots—

sopranos, altos and baritones, a gleeful
impromptu chorus praising a month of rain,
they have survived sixty-six million years,

the asteroid’s collision, climate change
to serenade outside my window—symphonies
all this time before we walked this earth.






                                                                                                         and holy
                              days asleep in the calendar wake up and chime.

                                             – William Stafford (“How You Know”)

Tree frogs awake in the dark,
in the rain, a steady wave of chorusing
croaks upon croak—thousands

clear the air in their throats
again and again, prolong moments
no one else seems to want.

I pause in my tracks listening
deep into the wet blackness to a holy
tradition begun before man.








It’s not about you—
and not about to change
the weather or politics.

You are helpless,
at the mercy of the swirl
of elements colliding,

ricochets and explosions,
occasional clear views
of space and landscape

that keep you leaning forward
into the sun, your shadow cast
upon a fading track of small

accomplishment. After a rain
every tree frog sings
as if spring depended on it.






We grow wild beneath
the Red Tail’s cry
for company, beside

the dragging sound
of snake bellies
on well-drained dirt.

We fold our petals, sleep
to insistent tree frog songs
as the moon dances

upon the rippling creek,
mumbling constantly
of where it comes from.

And when we bloom,
we draw bugs as lovers
to inspire seed, clusters

of small town colors
beneath the Red Tail’s cry
for company.






One hundred ten degrees,
a kestrel lights where water sprays
the onion bed and bathes—

then soon its mate,
or so it seems at a distance
in the fuzzy heat.

Now in the morning black
my desk lamp brings
gnats to the window glass,

and tree frogs on a slick,
perpendicular hunt, vying
for positioning, carefully

lifting one foot at a time.
I imagine now the herd
of tree frogs seeking cover

at the kestrels’ landing,
great hops into the thick
onion stems and berry vines

dripping with wonder:
new habits on a timer
every summer evening at six.






Checking water, hillside springs
plumbed to troughs, a coyote pup,
on the lope and looking back

as if heading home, is common.
Beyond the den, this is his home,
this is his water—we are

unknown intruders, enigmas
making rounds in these hills,
following trails to waterholes

where wild waits
and congregates
as it shrinks into August.

With our eye, we measure
flow at the end of rusty pipe—
with our lungs, blow water

backwards to the spring box
to clear debris and sediment,
seldom clean. Yesterday,

I got to be giant
with two tree frogs dancing
on my tongue.






My brother, the old farmer, says
that it’s about over, that out
in the Valley where I seldom stray,

brand new drilling rigs rise
every two miles above the orchards,
out of corn fields reaching past

underground rivers that have lost
their way—like locusts, like aliens
descended to pound and perforate

the earth with steel, pneumatic
proboscises, they shine
through sun and starlight.

In the garden, the damp earth
moves, as if alive, with tree frogs
and toads traveling the shade

from flower leaf to vegetable
like a plague, like a sign
at the end of farming

or this drought, or for El Niño rains?
All the wishing at the wellhead
doesn’t matter to a tree frog.



Very strong El Niño likely during autumn/winter 2015-2016; significant impacts possible in California