Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Buck Stops For No One

A big visiting orange cat
making himself at home
lies in the windowsill
looking out through the screen
surveying serenely the latest woodscape
of his newest personal domain
then quickly stands up

backs carefully onto the shelves
staring intently with respect
at a tall full-grown buck

with impressive autumn antlers
picking his way slowly and quietly
with ballet delicacy
as only a giant can
as if tip-toeing on hard hooves
through the gravel and this year's leaves
passing within ten feet from the cottage.

With his magnificent brawny presence
and inextinguishable will
if he had chosen to he could have
easily ripped through the screen
with two or three shakes
of pointed bone antlers
inserting himself violently
into my indoor mundanity
but instead moves forward
into the late morning 
probably one-half to two days
ahead of the loose band of coyotes
tracing his scent.

His instinct is to lead them by the nose
into an extended improvised maze
of trees, hills, creeks, flood plains, and roads
until they become frustrated or distracted.

Within the next few days
maybe today
I will take a leisurely walk
in the direction he was heading
watch the dirt for cloven divots
and scan for antler scuffs
on tree bark about chest high
till the signs reach the creek
at which point I will linger
on a limestone boulder
watch the shallow flow
and wonder what terrain I'd follow
if I were a magnificent buck

Pocketing a smooth bleached rock
I'd rise to return home
a slightly different route
than the way I had come
passing along the way
the rounded hump of ground
I'd built with a dozen nearby rocks
and covered with small fallen branches
that is the cairn that by now shelters
only the eroded bones, teeth, and hooves
of a beautiful long-dead doe
that my dogs had happily discovered
to my fascination and horror
one surprising Sunday morning


If orange cat walks with me
as he usually does
he will no doubt step up
to the top of the cairn dome
look up the tall white sycamores
and leaning long black willows
for suitable branches of safe repose
from which he could proudly survey
the verdant and versatile flood plain
this innocent killing ground
before padding down the mound
and returning home
lagging behind me
at his own sweet pace.



Larry Piltz
November 21, 2010
Indian Cove

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Sins of the Patriarchs,
The Spoils of the Sons

A harmful change in conditions
is brought about by the advantaged
taking advantage of the disadvantaged
who have no recourse from
and have no remedy for
what has befallen them
and no one to whom to turn.

What remains?
At what cost?

Meanwhile a father and son team
prominent brigands of the town
buy gold and silver jewelry
off the necks wrists fingers
tongues lips cheeks genitals
and right out of the mouths
and hutches of the disadvantaged
with dimes for their dinners
and encourage them
to strip copper for breakfast
and call it a good day.

My country
would not be
tis of them
if I had my whim


L. A. Piltz
Indian Cove
October 30, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Eva Bush
(More Braun Than Brains)

{Singing fun for the whole family, to the tune of "Peggy Sue"}


You used to be Laura

but you married that horror
your crime may be subliminable
but you married a war criminable

(Chorus)

Oh Eva, oh Eva Bush
you know we love that Bush
that pretty Eva Bush

She used to be a teacher

but now we can't reach her
she banned those peace poets
Eva we didn't think you'd ho' it
(Chorus)

Eva's known to love books

and high-powered Enron crooks
but you know she couldn't be that brainy
since she loved the wrong Cheney
(Chorus)

We knew that George is without sin

and should've known that he would win
when Eva came up with the plan
for naked pyramids of man
(Chorus)

Now would a paragon of morals

rest on Iraqi corpses' laurels
yes her outfits are tres slimming
but as befits a Stepford lemming
(Chorus)

Eva's big boy loves his bike

and there's no pantsuit she won't like
yes they were made for each other
cause she turned out like his mother
(Chorus)

Eva loves her cowpoke

and tells a great horse penis joke
though she wears those pantsuits like a burka
she's a Norman Rockwell berserker
(Chorus)

We know that Eva loves to wave

and that she'd never hurt her slave
but what I'd really like to know
is would our Eva keep it shaved
if it could make that man behave?

(Chorus)

Oh Eva, oh Eva Bush
you know we love that Bush
that pretty Eva Bush

By Anonymous Blogger,
who just happens to be posting
randomly on this particular blog
and who has absolutely no connection
to its proprietor, Larry Piltz,
none whatsoever, none at all,
and Piltz has no idea how
this poem
appeared on his blog
and
hasn't yet figured out
how to remove it.
He'll be going now.



Sunday, September 19, 2010



Hourglass Land
(Heads in the Sand, Again and Again)

Feel the ups and downs
as we make the rounds
cross our cities and towns
in ragged tux and gown
searching lost and founds
for our misplaced crowns
all our splendid renown

Now with ears to the ground
and with future unwound
do we stumble and drown
a well-armed tragic clown
in the desert quicksands
of the foreign lands
where we've armed the clans
and taken bloody last stands
so that American brands
make billions of grands
always fist over hand
from the captive demand

W
ith our heads in the sand
again and again
taking a stand
for Hourglass Land.

Tumbling through
the Land of the Hourglass
sucked down with the sands
of its moral morass
sifting and sinking
sympathetic to the last
not immune to the grit
of the constant sandblast

unaware of the Hand
that will soon turn the glass
upside down reset
to an unrecognized past
to start all over
with the same old cast
who'll wonder how it all
went downhill so fast.

It's the fall rise and fall
of a perpetual wall
temporary amnesia
in minds wise and small
going back and forth
in a dead-end hall
and we're all invited
to that Sandman's Ball
inside the glass
that has us enthralled
we'll try to hold on
for ourselves and for all
but can anything change
that we're in for a fall

With our heads in the sand

again and again
taking a stand
for Hourglass Land
to start all over
with the same old cast
who'll wonder how it all
went downhill so fast.

It's never too late

to break free at last
but be careful while picking up
pieces of glass

Larry Piltz
Indian Cove
Austin, Texas

Artwork by Larry Ray at http://theihandbill.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 3, 2010


Have A Life

Then you realize
it couldn't have been any other way
and that's why things
are like they are
that this is how things
are supposed to be after all
and you still don't know why
but it doesn't matter why
so now you can just move on
like you were meant to
in the first place.

L. A. Piltz
Indian Cove
Austin, Texas

Sunday, August 15, 2010



Winter's Beetle in Summer

The pincered beetle is dead
desiccated and fully transparent
empty and upside down
facing the sky
its shell delicate
entirely intact
a shimmering golden amber
leg joints wrapped around
the underside
of a wispish acacia sapling branchlet
and hanging on for dear life
in defiance of
the Wind
the Sun
the Rain
the Cold
the Birds
Hunger
Exhaustion
forewings locked into place
at its sides
protecting the flight wings
beneath
its last air long since taken
its little triangular face
closed mouth
and eye holes
all cocked slightly to one side
as if curious
its legs like fingers
grasping tightly
around live wood
in prayer pose
not a supplicant
but in quest
pincers bearing down
and not going anywhere
if it had its way.

Larry Piltz
Indian Cove
Austin, Texas
August 15, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Poverty Point, Louisiana

You know how it is
when you're feeling weightless
and know you're ageless
and are running freely
across a shining grassy field
on a mysterious 3,500-year-old
Native American mounds site
with two big middle-aged dogs
who have adored you
and known you very well
for more dog years
than you've been alive
and a familiar breeze helps
carry you buoyantly along
until you begin outrunning it
and you begin carrying
the wind with you
skimming the shrubby banks
of a curving muddy bayou
mostly content with its course
and the mother dog drops
down suddenly into
a hidden eroded spot
landing on matted mud straw
at deep water's flowing edge
and is safe but needs you
to drop down with her
quickly in case of soft mud
and lift her thick body
up over your head
back onto the bank
while daughter dog
peers down excitedly
encouraging you
with her devotion
and neutralizes gravity
in the sudden hole
for a moment
with her will
concerned for
her loved ones
and before you know it
all three of you
are running again
now across a broad field
through horizontal sun waves
that make you happy
with no end in sight
having caught up with
the wind and daring it
to outrace you
because your dogs
are carrying you
far faster than
any wind
could ever blow
and swear you've
been there before
and aren't kidding
when the giant
bird mound comes
into view

Larry Piltz
Indian Cove
July 24, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010


Oil is the Salt in the Wound of The Gulf

By Houma Cayenne

We have saltwater in our veins
and when it pours it biblically rains
God knows we've had our losses and gains
had lots of Abels and our share of Cains
but we're open and we're warm
and we let our love be our charm
and believe in the power of first do no harm
we believe in the power of first do no harm

There's a Gulf within
and a Gulf out there
there's the Gulf my friend
and a Gulf of care
a Gulf between
what we say and do
the silent Gulf we don't mean
between me and you
the Gulf between
suffering and ease
a wide Gulf that's bridged
like the old Rigolets

Is ours a Gulf of childhood innocence
or a Gulf of lost dream penitence
or a Gulf of ambiguity
to suffer in perpetuity

A mullet slaps the waves
in the land of the wet and the brave
in a land that cannot be paved
in a land that can still be saved

A black water snake is sunning
and a shrimper's engine's gunning
as the tides just keep on running
watch us run on kindness and cunning
in a land where nothing is wanting

Along a backwater mirror glass
a nursery for life from its source to the pass
where fresh and salt make fertile mishmash
the rare conditions for life in a clash
runs a rabbit through the cordgrass
with the hope this day won't be its last
as osprey circles the marsh
with an appetite that's harsh
but the rabbit is hungrier still
for life with her genius stubborn will
and today there'll be no kill
but for neither will time be standing still
and tomorrow will have its fill
from the rarest cougar to clouds of krill
for all with lung and sifting gill
with claw and longing and vital quill
in this land without a rock or hill
digesting petroleum's poison pill
because of a violently negligent spill

Oil is the salt in the wound of the ocean
the salt in the womb of The Gulf in motion
the Womb of Creation not some vague notion
The Gulf a womb of sacred devotion
pierced in its side its bleeding quotient
oil is the salt in the wound of the ocean
the salt in the womb of The Gulf in motion

- Transcribed by L. A. Piltz

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Psalm For The South

Thou truly has been blessed to be
alive in the time of liberty,
with My fruitful plains and bountiful sea
and My mountains and forests I made for thee.
With love and hope and true faith in Me,
thou will make it last an eternity.

May thine days be spent in happiness
while remembering what's at stake,
when thou rises up with thine destiny
and chooses which path to take.

Then, dear South, you'll truly rise again
and your time will truly be worth living,
when thou has purged thine hatred sin
and turned thine heart to true forgiving

Oh, South, thou will rise when thine hatred dies,
with thine heads held high and turned toward My skies.
Oh, South, thou will rise when thine hatred dies.
It's time to let thine compassion rise,
to let thine resentment and envy die,
so that thou may touch My heavenly skies.
Oh, dear South, thou will rise when thine hatred dies.

L. A. Piltz
Indian Cove
Austin, Texas

Thursday, May 27, 2010


New Atlantis and Banglateche

By Houma Cayenne

Here beside my breathing Bayou Teche
true lifeblood of our Acadian creche
my second sight so easily stretches
oer the realm of the fishermen's catch
and the damage caused by greed and its wretches
I mourn for the view that's meant us
for the floating early grave that's sent us
the oncoming waters of New Atlantis

I see our sea birds' desperate flailing
overwhelmed, hopes frail and lean
and our skimmers' regretful sailing
while retching toxins oer the railing
dreading more each year's new gale e'en
as I ponder night and daily
the meaning of the mighty pirates failing
as mon amis must keep on bailing

To the inland coast of Banglateche
come the lapping waves of New Atlantis
through the heaving booms of helpless mesh
by the isles of decaying detritus
carrying bodies of beings you'd have to guess
tides of mayhem, murder, and mindless mess
witnessed by your humble Cajun Cervantes
tilting seaward like a mantis
raging with a sacred wailing
for a time of great white whaling
a catch of mighty pirates failing
their lies and sad excuses trailing
all the way to their righteous jailing
as mon amis still keep on bailing

New Atlantis and Banglateche
our refuge now becomes the depths
our solid ground eternally wet
yet wonder where to throw our nets
and how we'll throw each jour de fete
Oh Evangeline you dear coquette
we thought we'd somehow save you yet
your marshes and heron, chenier and egret
the sheltering cypress, the saltgrass carpet
the oyster and crab and shrimp we've met
Oh all of life, we are in your debt
as heart to heart and tete to tete
we grieve for the diet of poison you'll get
for your suffering we've more than our share of regret
as the years roll by a la morte de roulette
le bon temps au revoir et allons Banglateche
we pray that somehow we can all start afresh
as out in New Atlantis the pirates keep failing
and mon amis must keep on bailing

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm a Little Teabagger

I'm a little teabagger
short and stout
hear me fly off the handle
hear me whine and pout

When I get all steamed up
hear me shout
"Tip me over
I'm poor-me'd out".* **

*PG-rated ending:
"Tip me over
and whore me out".

**R-rated ending:
"Tip me over
and hush my mouth".

---Traditional

Saturday, May 15, 2010




The #1 Poem In America

I've got the #1 poem in America
and it's brought to you by Prozac and Lyrica
it's got an edgy non sequitur staccata maraca
and it's known to cause ritual hysterica
it's the #1 poem in America
It's botox, bobby sox, shock jocks, and electroshocks
space walks, detox, 9-ml Glocks, and triple locks
DNA building blocks, doomsday clocks, one big black box
it's the #1 poem in America
and it's brought to you by a rollercoaster pharmica
and it may cause or prevent the next Guernica
it's the #1 poem in America

Larry Piltz
Auschtin, Texas


Tuesday, May 4, 2010


The Gulf

"The water was fouled at once,
but they drank it none the less,
a mess of mud and blood"
- Thucydides

Oil on the water
blood on the sands
cruel and unusual
big business plans
eleven souls dying
then countless more
fellow live beings
damn big business whores
crude in their veins
greedy slick hearts
their making a killing
rips lives apart
big oil at the table
pounds on its chest
keeps us addicted
kills all the rest
what becomes of our world
what becomes of our pride
what becomes of our lives
when death comes with the tide

Larry Piltz
Austin, TX
(from Back Bay,
Biloxi, MS)

- Use of the above photo is an act
of conscious civil disobedience in protest
of British Petroleum, et al, malfeasance.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Who Me
(Ballad of the Hoot Owls)

10:40
Soundlessly
dark has settled
drenched the earth
waking the nocturne
suddenly from on high
an emphatic cry

Voice 1:
I who am here am here who
I am who is here
Is there a you here who
I who am here am here who
I am who is here
Listening for you here who

5:40
Faintest glow
barely preceding
premonition of dawn
stills night's last
suddenly from on high
again an emphatic cry

Voice 1:
I who am here am here who
I am who is here
Is there a you here who
I who am here am here who
I am who is here
Listening for you here who

Voice 2:
I who too am here now am here who
I too am who is here
Is that you here too who
I who too am here now am here who
I too am who is here
Is that you here too who

Voice 1:
I who am here now am glad who
Am happy that you are here too
Am happy there is a you who
Is happy that I am here too who

Voice 2:
I who too am here now am glad who
Am happy there's now a happy you who
Listens at night for my who too
As I listen at night for your who who

Larry Piltz
Indian Cove

Saturday, May 1, 2010



The Wave

Wherever there's a wave, there's a way, and a wave.
Wherever there's a wave, there's a way,
Forever is the day of the wave and the way.
Wherever there's a wave, there's a way.

Life is like a beach, there's a wave, and a way.
When love is within reach, there's a way.
The pain is there to teach us a way of the wave
and that within the wave there's more than one way

When you're on your own, there's a wave, and a way.
If your heart begins to groan, there's a way.
There is kindness you'll be shown by the wave, by the way,
and sharing kindness, if you will, is the way.

As we sail the stars, there's a wave, and a way.
If our Earth becomes like Mars, there's a way.
As we move out of our cars, out of the way of that wave,
we'll no longer be like slaves all our days.

As you live and breathe, there's a wave, and a way.
When your laughter turns to grief, there's a way.
It will cleanse all your beliefs and will show you the way,
the way to laugh and to believe every day.

Wherever there's a wave, there's a way, and a wave.
Wherever there's a wave, there's a way.
Forever is the day of the wave and the way.
Wherever there's a wave, there's a way.

Larry Piltz
Indian Cove

Friday, April 30, 2010



Loving Our Very Existence

I'm the beginning of life
I am the end
I'm the mystery's wife
I am godsend
I am a guest of life
who cannot die
and I enjoy all of this
without knowing why

I'm the illusion of time
I'm in full bloom
I'm a river in rhyme
I flow from the womb
I have a path to climb
yet I am enough
and I'm truly amazed
that I'm all of this stuff

Here are the answers you seek
here is the soul
here there is hope for the weak
here you are whole
here is where you can now speak
here you'll be heard
here's the presence of prayer
without even a word

Where can I go from here
why would I try
where is the tender and dear
where is the sky
when is the moment most near
when is it not
how can what I want most
seem at some other spot

Now's the time for life's kiss
now is a sign
now is a season of bliss
now's a deep mine
now is a time that I'd miss
now is a pearl
now is patience and grit
in this best of all worlds

I'm the beginning of love
for which there's no end
I'm a singing sweet dove
I am your friend
it's from love I am made
as sweet as a child
I'm the hope you embrace
and I yearn to go wild

I'm the meaning of life
I let my heart rend
I abandon all strife
I'm on the mend
I'm the truth about life
that's hidden from view
I'm free now today
I know what to do
it's the beginning of life
beginning with you

For Flo Piltz, from Larry
(I flow from the womb)


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We're Focused In Going Forward {a song}

We're focused in going forward
hoping we're not moving backward
that our dreams are not shattered
and we're doing things that matter

We have a laser-eye view
of what we surgically need to do
but first we positivize our attitude
to increase the odds we're not so screwed

We'll strategize our paradigm
to turn this tanker on a dime
then magnetize our money bomb
and incentivize remaining calm

calm, calm, calm, calm
take a buyout, take a balm
read a psalm, must remain calm

I yearn to actionize my sweetheart deal
get skin in the game and watch it peel
then hybridize across the board
take a flier and pull the cord

I'll morally hazard deep cramdowns
soak the plunge team till it drowns
creatively destroy the ranks
of dualistic zombie banks

I'll deconstruct bank stewardship
and ride risk-free the double dip
then drain the Treasury like a well
my soul outsourced and priced to sell

soul, sell, soul, sell
I salivate at the first bell
much later I will go to hell

We're focused in going forward
hoping we're not ass backward
that our dreams were not hackered
by some spoiled rich cracker
we're focused in going forward

Larry Piltz
Indian Cove
Austin, Texas



Friday, March 26, 2010

We All Come Alive Again {a song}

Larry Piltz

We all come alive again
each and every one a friend
we all come alive again
no matter what will be
or what has been
we all come alive again
we all come alive my friend

The Earth is a little ball
rolling down a Giant's hall
the Earth is a little ball
rolling summer winter
spring and fall
the Earth is our little ball
the world is a miracle

How is your heart today
sometimes I want to cry the day away
how is your heart today
what will make you smile
what do you say
how is your heart today
what does your kind heart say

We all come alive again
each and every one a friend
we all come alive again
no matter what will be
or what has been
we all come alive again
we all come alive again
we all come alive
my friend

Friday, March 19, 2010

Now In The Time Of When {to be further edited}

My 28-Hour Road Trip From Lake Charles To Austin
or How Hurricane Rita Brought Me Up To Speed

Larry Piltz

The world as I knew it didn’t suddenly come to an end, but it did come to a stop.

That’s because underway was the second evacuation ever of any modern major American city, in this case Houston, with the first ever having been New Orleans only weeks before, if by underway you mean going nowhere slowly, if at all, and then excruciatingly so, and the size of Houston's evacuation outpaced even New Orleans'.

How slow was it? So slow that it was unfathomable by any normal or practiced means of comprehension. So slow that time not only stood still but seemed to run in reverse, with Hurricane Rita bearing down and pulling us seemingly backwards into its sprawling punchdrunk watery grave path, as if the entire region had been tilted upward at one corner and everything on wheels was sliding inexorably backward toward the gaping maw of some fascinating new, though vaguely familiar, kind of oblivion.

So slow, and terrifying, that to truly understand the evacuation, you had to be in it, and to be in it was to truly be nowhere at all,  It was a void in a time warp where you seemed to lose two seconds for every one second gained.  It was brazen unreality, a giant flypaper dream from which there was no waking, the ultimate Oil Age end-game purgatory. Nine hours to drive 20 miles. Seven hours to travel 30, if you were one of the luckier ones. Running out of gas but first obsessing for hours over the needle flirting with empty.  Broiling under a too-near flaring sun. Stuck in inescapable wheeled gypsy encampments, parallel, parked and parched, praying for the tanker truck, water or gas, the daytime temperature 100-degrees of separation from your disbelieving senses.

To merely see the multitudinous gridlock you were first entering withered your hope and made you question your sanity and that of our whole carbon-based life form’s social order and priorities. Actually, questioning the sanity of the authority that would send millions out onto the byways, not only without a backup plan but without even a workable initial plan, is not a bad idea, considering that nothing is preventing the same stop-motion inanimation from occurring all over and over again, anywhere. To think, you could be in it next time, coming to a city near you, with those dear to you.

When might that happen? Say, how about right now?

The Unbelievable Stuckness Of Being

You are now marooned in my maroon Subaru wagon with me and with my dear, sweet dog companion, Mir, 13 years and wagging. We’re heading west at 3:30 a.m. from Sulphur, Louisiana, a gritty refinery mechanic’s town on the west side of Lake Charles, and we’re aiming for Austin, maybe five hours away. It’s the very same morning that upper Texas Gulf Coasters are trying to dodge Hurricane Katrina’s karmic sister, Rita, by emptying out onto all available roads at nearly the same exact time, about two million vehicles.  My personal master plan is to drive west on I-10 just past Beaumont and then take the first paved route north as far as necessary to bypass all that nightmarish Houston gridlock I’d seen by satellite an hour earlier. I really thought I could outsmart my motoring fate.

You see, I’d spent the better part of my 50-something years desperately trying to avoid urban traffic congestion, even going so far as to neglect to have a more serious career because, among lesser reasons, it would have likely stuck me on a freeway somewhere, when everyone knows, or at least I thought they did, that humans weren’t cut out for such things. We’re supposed to be more clever than that, or at least I thought I was. I had even taken to driving from Austin, my home for 26 years, through Houston in the middle of the night only, on my many drives to Biloxi, my hometown, just to miss the daylight Houston traffic snarl, which reminds me of nothing so much as lemming Nascar.

However, after passing Beaumont heading west, one I-10 exit after another was closed. Barricaded. Blocked. Sometimes with sheriff’s deputies and constables and sometimes concrete barriers. No! Gasp! My air supply of strategic superiority was quickly diminishing, the pinprick certainty of my personal exceptionalism hissing from my thought balloon of optimism. I am doomed, and you and Mir with me. I could feel it. But we couldn’t turn around and go back. The I-10 eastbound lanes were already bumper-to-bumper and stalled, fifty miles from Houston. Radio was warning travelers to avoid the Astro City at all costs.

Abandon all hope. Ye are now at the mercy of the unknown. There is good reason we are one of the extremely few cars heading toward Houston. A carmageddon (more likely karmageddon) was underway that even the unhonored new urban planning prophets had only vaguely forecast. Mainly, though, for me, I now believe, I was caught in the gravity of the situation because it was my personal fate, something in which I had never before believed.

Now it all made sense. The thing you try most to avoid is always working to lure you toward it. To draw you in. You give it so much energy with your unconscious attention, with your dread, that it becomes more real and powerful than you ever dared fear. Such that there’s no getting around it, as there was certainly no getting around Houston that mid September day of 2005.

The best way to irrevocably seal your fate – and you with it - is to ignore that you might have one, and the surest guarantee you’ll be blindsided when it pops up in your path, as it did to me, when I first saw the endless lines of stalled metal autosaurs held fast in the tar pit traffic "going" north on Highway 146 toward Liberty east of Houston, the whole area still basting in summer-hot bayous, rivers and canals. Just what the hurricane ordered, flat coastal plain at sea level cut through with water courses and lined by tall breakable trees. Forget about water seeking its own level. It’s seeking your level.

That is exactly what we in the Subaru face after finally finding an open exit near San Jacinto (it was quite a battle) and winding our way toward what would hopefully be the nearest major open road north. Until we saw that first rigomortified vanishing-point traffic jam, we had still retained hope that we had found the way out. The truth is that we had found our way in, to a mass and chaotic and tragic exodus that by all appearances had been subject to no plan whatsoever, except maybe Plan 9 from Outer Space. Houston……problem!

A bigger truth, though, is that the evacuation of Houston and the upper Texas Gulf Coast was not unplanned. There actually was a plan in place. It’s just that the plan was hopeless. Because Houston had tried to deal with its traffic problems only by building roads, its evacuation fate naturally was massive early road blockage, a coronary-inducing clot that trapped people in a negative feedback loop with no escape, next exit Godot. Houston had stubbornly long avoided its traffic problem only to run smack into it.

So here we are, poised to fully realize our marriage to the fleeing mob, and resistance is futile, so when someone is eventually kind enough (or maybe misery loves company) to let us enter their lane, the sinking feeling of my own particular fate hits with full force, launching me downward into new depths of despondence, and taking you and Mir along with me.

Obviously, my plan for my whole life had failed. I was now an acutely, even keenly superfluous part of the worst traffic jam in the history of the city of hyper-congested Houston if not the history of the world. Where had I gone wrong? And what are you doing riding with the likes of me? You poor wretch!

To ask my wife, Grace, where I had gone wrong might have obviously been during our call the night before, when she’d said to stay away from Houston at all costs (you fool – my words, not hers), because the gridlock had already started, and I didn’t seriously enough weigh the very specific gravity of her warning. In retrospect, I could hear in her voice that she already sensed what would happen and that she was already in equal parts upset with me for what I was about to commit and concerned about its consequences.

Ignoring History Made Easy
However, I place the origins of my misguidedness decades earlier, at the not random date of August 17, 1969, my 18th birthday, celebrated in hometown Biloxi by the gross onslaught of Hurricane Camille, which grievously wrecked the area I’d lived in since soon after birth, and since then I have been strangely drawn to such tempestuous emergencies and similarly adrenal urges for the unknown, predictable or not, rational or not.

For instance, I drove once to the Texas coast at Port Aransas to experience a lesser hurricane that, to me, unfortunately weakened to the south somewhere. Other times have found me variously living not that far from Mount St. Helens during its eruption, squatting a house alone for a summer in Austin, hitching cross-country with abandon and severe lack of caution, and casually debating an aggressive and proselytizing young neo-Nazi on a dark Greyhound bus gliding across a moonless southern Colorado, as well as certain other escapades that I feel could be unkind to share with you, seeing as you’re stuck sharing an escape pod with me at the moment.

And given the choice between those and what lies ahead, I'd choose the hurricanes and volcano - because I survived those.  What awaits on Highway 146 between Mont Belvieu and Liberty and beyond is an unfinished story, with the moral being that my risk-taking has caught up with me. I can’t outrun it or drive, drive away. I am caught like a rat in a trap of my own making.  I am past my limit, and I am the designated driver.  It is the unknown, out of my control, and way larger than life, and I am finally forced to really contemplate it, face to face.

Will the hurricane overtake us all out here as we idle our engines and at times literally push our cars to save gas, haggardly straggling inland bound? Will the waters of far southeast Texas, that mammoth sponge of sopping sediment, rise up, grab us, and baptize the whole gear-happy flock in the name of the U.S. Weather Service? Will my car cellphone charger wear out and we’ll never be heard from again? Will we never again see an open gas station? Would my tight grasp of Mir, holding her up over the flood, be undone, and could I even continue to live if I have to watch her torn away to disappear under the unfeeling torrent?

What I realized during that eternity-a-minute waiting was that I am both patient and terrified, both hardy and absolutely non-steadfast. That life has been good to me but not as good as I wish I had allowed it to be. That I, yes, am not an island nor would I ever again wish that I could be one, even if it were okay after all to be such a thing. That I am mortal and not a particularly brave one. And that I love my Mir and wife and son and family and friends, and even strangers, including you, in ways that are too profound and too personal to discuss further here or maybe anywhere.

What I didn’t realize until well after the evacuation was that I have a specific kinship with the unknown, that the unknown and I share traceable lineage. That the unknown is really my twin. That all I have to do at any given time to directly face the unknown is to honestly look at my reflection. In a mirror, in a window, in water. Because I am the unknown.

What I know about myself is in flux. It never stays the same. The subtleties never end. I hadn’t realized before that morphosis is so extremely meta. I am not only a collection of infinitesimal particles with more space within me than solidity. I am also a collection of things that I believe, about myself and the world, that are true for me at that moment but are shifting before I can really assimilate what the beliefs really mean. I know that I am the unknown, but I really truly honestly don’t know what I’m going to do next. What I’ll think next. Especially what I’ll feel next. That much I know, for now.

When, while in transit, I get a callback from my sister, who, out of state and using the internet and a coffee cup, found a pending tanker truck full of gas, a gleaming silver sight too welcome for words, about to arrive at a station about a mile or two ahead of me, just when I was at about the end of my gauge, I don’t realize that it is just my kindred unknown revealing itself to me in a different way than it had the past seven hours, three-quarters of a tank ago, and 30 miles back, when we initially joined the herd in earnest. I had abandoned all hope. It wasn’t hard. After all, even local law enforcement folks had no idea if their roads would clear in time to outrun the storm.

It was all skin of the teeth and hair of the bear. Speaking of which, a convoy of state troopers was just arriving in the area, the first police presence, after driving all night (!) from the Valley. They had no idea what was going on. They had no orders. They just made it all up and did a commendable, even graceful job, conjuring it out of the steamy humid air. And Houston radio simply wished us luck, saying we were in an unauthorized evacuation route and that we were on our own, and sounded annoyed, frustrated, and overwhelmed that they had to bother with us out here in an erroneous zone.

Never mind that punctuating the roads were official State of Texas hurricane evacuation route signs. We were written off. Still, it had to be better than being on one of those Houston freeways, the aerial shots of which none of us will ever get out of our heads, the same live satellite feed I could see even before leaving Louisiana. Those poor bastards, stuck out there! There but for fortune. Or is it better them than me?

Nothing Is Better For Me Than Thee
Later, after sunset had mercifully arrived, some 18 hours after we had left Sulphur (you napped a lot; Mir licked your face for the salty sweat), and fleets of hyperstressed slightly less miserable campers - people now camping in their vehicles - had moved 40 and 50 miles inland, still bogging down for two to three hours here and there when it came time to try to move again, and we had had a midnight rest and fitfully deep nap along with a hundred others at some middle of the night anywhere rural intersection (146 at 105), with a closed empty gas station on one corner and a big church on about ten open acres caddy corner, and we had made our way westward by 105 through sleeping timber lands, never alone on the road for long, and we came upon Highway 59 at Cleveland and Interstate 45 at Conroe, with Houstonians still paralyzed on elevated roadways, broken down, at the untimely end of their line, sitting on the overpasses, staring vacantly into the unknown, I realized how lucky we had actually been.

A compact car. Good mileage when actually moving at highway speeds faster then 10 m.p.h. The unlikely tanker of gas had actually arrived. Each vehicle was allotted 10 gallons of gas, though all the power in the station blew out just before it was our turn to get some. A power crew seemingly teleported in and fixed the thing in a mere 50 minutes (a mere instant In The Eye of the Evacuation).

We rejoined the throng with nearly a full tank, moving slightly more quickly this time, and we pulled off the road at turquoise dusk and rested alone at an empty teacher’s credit union parking lot, with cars rolling by on the two-lane beside us. Here I got revelationary route information and encouragement from my dear wife, who’d googled and canvassed various hotlines in a mustered, motivated attempt to help pull my croutons out of the fondue before it was too late. I’d also talked with my loving and supportive family, scattered from Quebec to the U.S. Gulf and East coasts, who shared love and encouragement while being gentle with me in my good plight.

Then back on the road in the still early evening, ours the only car in sight, a completely clear road ahead of us, tall trees lining the stretching two-lane pavement. Driving unencumbered, with enough gas for Austin, the now deepening blue dusk glowing under heaven – no, it is heaven. Flying we were, really, going and going and going, not an impediment in sight, the evening cooling sweetly.

Never before had such exhilaration existed. So this is what nirvana feels like. The beckoning 'deep in the heart' stars flashing above, miles gathering a couple at a time behind us. Mir less stressed, starting to relax, having been heroically poised enough to have lapped water repeatedly at my urging throughout the day, keeping herself in loyal good spirits despite an old dog’s debilitating exhaustion, sore hips (and standing almost the entire journey), and the perpetual confusion of the situation. She had wanted simply to go for a ride. “Do you want to go for a ride, huh! Wanta go for a ride?”

Then, no! What’s that? It can’t be! Tiny points of unmistakable red light way in the distance directly ahead. It is. The unknown strikes again. Another several-hour backup, though slowly rolling forward more often than we had early on, and night had chilled just enough, and exhausted people were acting more leisurely, knowing we’d all gotten through the riskiest part.

By then, oh, the sights we’d all seen. Hundreds of darkened and empty gas stations, deserted fast food joints, strip malls, and public buildings, all with parking lots filled at all angles with thousands of cars and trucks, in town after town, rural intersection after rural intersection, people waiting for gas, food, and water that may not come for days if at all, because they have none anyway and can’t go anywhere without, and choosing the safety of others. The civilizing instinct, the genius of the tribal, where we do have each other, whoever we are, unknown or not.

By day you could see this instinct honing and holding on, in the fatigued and persevering faces of people in cars next to you, always with the windows down, in those pausing on the side of the road in pre-storm swelter. These working people, farmers, ranchers, mechanics, clerks, in an array of well-kept newish to older and dilapidated vehicles of various vintage. Professionals and business owners scattered throughout in some of the newest and fancier vehicles. Electricians, plumbers, and carpenters, and roofers by the half-dozen, in their work vans with ladders. Homesteading families with livestock haulers and flatbed trailers, carrying a horse or two, chickens, goats, the kids in the truck, supplies protruding here and there.

Dogs in their hard plastic carriers in steel pickup beds that burned like radiators, no room left in the cab, wondering in their utterly logical dog minds how much of this punishment they can take. Sometimes, tenderly, a two-legged pack member, concerned, rides in the back with them out of friendship and love and holds a tarp over the carriers to ward off some of the sun.

One car interior is subdivided by chicken wire with subsections for birds in their cages, cats in back windows, and dogs everywhere else, with a hardware store Noah behind the wheel. People waiting and often creeping forward with their car doors open to lose a few degrees. Local people meeting in school parking lots as they begin to join the fray. People with their pets, forming their own caravan, meeting in the parking lot of their vet, who distributes what supplies he can, knowing he can restock when it’s all over and he’s hopefully back safe and sound, and wondering when and if he’d see his patients and clinic again.

Still Not Crazy After All These Hours
Our evacuation was full of human beings, people keeping it together while facing their fears and apprehensions, their frustrations and dreads. Waiting. Worrying. Resting. Hoping. Strangers sometimes barely tolerating, doggedly, an awful situation and each other, and more often than not finding a reserve of compassion to reach out in little ways, to crack a joke, to offer words of encouragement, to ask if there is anything anyone needs, if someone needs some water or food, or someone to watch their stuff while they go offroad on foot for a little relief. (the animals led by way of example, having much more experience in this regard; yea, and a little dog shall lead them.).

Here was the major unknown, being played out in real time, now, unrehearsed, without a script, unless you count a genetic one: How would we react to these nearly intolerable conditions? What was our fate as neighbors, as a species? Sure, there were a few confrontational moments here and there, widely publicized and repeated on the news. After all, we were reacting to practically supernatural circumstances far beyond our control, the hurricane, as well as to circumstances that were at the moment likewise beyond our control, the social and technological infrastructure. Yet almost unanimously, anonymously, people were tolerant, understanding, patient, and generous. There was universal suffering, and yet people almost universally extended their patience to encompass others, and chose to be decent.

People shared their precious water and food, often let the more needful cut in line for gas, such as one exhausted and fraying woman who’d just dropped off her soldier son at George Bush International Airport to catch a return flight to Iraq (Remember? She was right behind us at the pump and had run out of gas, clutching her steering wheel, looking dazed and beset from all directions; people including a state trooper pushed her car to the pump.). Others freely, even excitedly, gave directions or tips where gas might be gotten, bestowed maps, gave out phone numbers for shelters and emergency services, gleaned from the radio or a car next door, lent a hand to the pregnant, comforted the oldest and the youngest. Smiled though it definitely was harder than frowning.

We planned routes together, kept an eye out for each other, our children, and our animal companions the best we could, adopted passengers when someone’s car would roll empty to a stop, and lived and let live when we needed to most. All the while needing to doze like the dead. And all the while not knowing what might become of us that night or the next day.

While the unknown was revealing itself to us in the threatening form of a hurricane, we calmed the storm within ourselves to weather the evacuation as the intelligent, resourceful, gutsy, and compassionate people we are. If the future holds more such disorganized encounters with nature, and each other, or other calamity (asteroid, anybody?), we’ll be ready. We’ll respond with the same store of good will and integrity that has seen us through the eons, though hopefully a more reasonable, sustainable plan, if not society, will have been implemented by then.

Meanwhile, our fear has receded. Fate has been faced. We have come home. We may unfasten our seatbelts. You, fellow passenger, are no longer a stranger. I bring you to your front door. Invite you to mine. We touch the ground before our homes. We are at the mercy of no one and no thing. We are at least equal partners in our own destinies, if not actually conjoined family.

We had a greatly interesting unforgettable evacuation. Let’s remember dearly and enduringly the suffering, especially the fallen, and the depth of filial relationship that was forever unbound. And please, let’s never have to do any of it again. Home never, ever - ever - looked so beautiful, seemed so right, or felt so sweet. And, finally, Mir can relax and lie down for a long exhausted peaceful sleep, knowing that she'd done her duty well in getting me home safely. Yes, humans had learned better than she might have thought from the better angels of the pack.

HE'S   EVERYWHERE    EVERYWHERE He's everywhere    everywhere try not to stare    not to stare get him a chair    him a chair...