Lil Bastards


lil bastards

by G. K. Brannen

There come the lil bastards. The air is cool – spring is upon the land.

The gardens are growing – vines along the fence – pod and bloom.

The azalea’s color has gone; the Dogwood takes its place.

The sun warms – Box turtles mate.


I stand in my back door looking over the menagerie of color working to be brilliant. I step outside on the deck, my little fat-dog close behind. Little fat-dog is part Beagle, part Basset, and full-time pain in the ass. He’s a foster-child; a no-body-wants-me-castoff; and, if I may add: that-dog-won’t-hunt-kinda-guy. We, he and I, stand there true wannabe rulers of our domain. And, then, there’s them – the lil bastards. Marauders of the realm; the holy terrors of gardens and flower pots everywhere. Squirrels – the little tree-rats from Hell. Every year, I think about pop’n a few with my pellet gun; that is, if I had a pellet gun. I could go buy one. But no, I’d rather piss and moan about the whole damn thing, and remind my full-time-fat-dog and part-time-cat that neither one of them are holding up their end of the bargain and fighting off the poachers of flower petals and pods.

I remember last spring Fat-Dog and me were headed to my foraging shed one day. I opened the door and all over the floor – pine-cone scales – all over the concrete pad, work table, shelves, and other assorted surfaces. Well, the only thing that eats pine cone scales in my neighborhood is, of course, the lil bastards.  I said a few minor profanes, looked around, and sure-nough, a couple had done broke in and made themselves to home inside my fertilizer spreader that hangs on the far wall. They had a collection of cardboard, oil-rags, straw, leaves and other such all mashed down and comfy right there under our very noses. As usual, my fat-dog claimed ignorance. And, part-time-cat, well, she was nowhere to be seen. How, I pondered, did they manage to get in? Then, I looked up at the air vent. Sure enough, they had managed to bend the metal flanges, chew through the mesh wire and gain squatting rights.  Fat-dog looked at me, I at him, and we agreed – something must be done. I promptly got out a roll of chicken wire, a hand full of sheet metal screws, my ladder, and my brand new Craftsman handy-dandy speed drill complete with assorted bits. After about ten minutes or so, we knew success. The metal frame was returned to its near original shape and it now had a new chicken wire “stay-the-hell-outa-here” screen. Fully satisfied with our constructive prowess, fat-dog and I returned to the house. Part-time-cat sat licking her paws with that smart-ass “Garfield” smirk on her face indicating: “you two are pathetic.”

The next morning, fat-dog and me went to survey our property. We, of course, felt pretty good and looked forward to returning to our veranda and enjoying a virgin bloody-Mary with a stalk of celery – “the breakfast of gardeners everywhere.”  I checked the outside of the vent. What? – Violated! – Again! I opened the door and entered. The second thing I saw – that little face, and his eyes were screaming, ALARM! ALARM! The lil bastard jumped from the spreader, to the shelf, to the rafter, and charged for the impaired chicken wire to initiate a fast escape. He would have made it too except for one, small, tiny, weeny problem. On his flight through the wire, he forgot to consider his male appendage – yep, his little member got caught in the wire. His little head was half out the vent. His little legs were just ago’n a hundred to noth’n. His tail just do’n a fat Tuesday dance. And, his little member stuck: Stuck! – Stuck! – Stuck; like an aircraft landing on an aircraft carrier at sea: wire caught, clamped, halted, maintaining an abrupt stoppage in forward movement … he and his little member were at a dead halt. Damned funniest thing I’d seen since my Box turtles were mating in my front yard – you ever seen Box turtles mate? Well, if you have, you’ll know how funny that lil bastard looked with his little member hung fast in that wire. He did finally manage to put everything in a reverse gear, get unhung, and resume his getaway. I know you want to feel sorry for the lil bastard and his soon to be sore little member. But, …

It’s the lil bastards in this world that unknowingly brings joy to me, my fat-dog, and my part-time cat. What, I ask you, would our world be like without the mating box turtles, lil bastards, and such?


Gators on the Half-Shell



The seasons of youth were upon us – bullet proof and rambunctious. We ran around chasing gators on the half-shell.

We use to hunt alligators, at night, with a flash light, and our bear hands. We were just boys then, testosterone filled, invaders of the galaxy – masters of our universe.

South Georgia in the sixties; we had Jim Crow, Jim Beam, the “Friday night lights,” and girlfriends that were a bother. We wanted more!

Saturday nights were the drive-in: the “Hitch’n Post to Shoney’s cruis’n circle, the river and campfires. And, we had gator hunt’n.

We’d go gator hunt’n, and there were rules: no girls allowed, only after dark, only close friends, had to be in the back-ponds with plenty of trees and stumps,  everybody in the water – no chickens – no shoes, we needed at least one flashlight – that worked, and, of course – no emergency plan.

Now that I look back, what the hell would we have done if we did catch a gator, get snake-bit, or get attacked by the ogre from hell. NONE OF THAT was in the game plan. Yet, we wanted more, we wanted MUCH more!

The seasons of youth were upon us – bullet proof and rambunctious. We ran around with erections and didn’t know what to do with’m. Gators on the half-shell.

We wanted more!


Lament at Poor Robin



Sing a Lament at Poor Robin

by G.K. Brannen


Ah, Poor Robin – what beholds this trek? As we pass,

do we sing a song of joy;       an ode to mourn;

perhaps a dirge would better suite our needs?

This road of dust        winding between the pine,

the scrub oak              seeking the river’s edge,

the weeping song of willow   trailing the current.


There!                          Just about the bend,

where angle’s wings drag the dust

two lives met their end.

The liquor too strong,

the time too fast,

the sturdy oak            too unforgiving.


The Mocking Bird,     the Wren,        the occasional squirrel,

to the beloved, and the unknowns

allowed are their respects.     Crosses and flowers mark the glen;

“An unweeded garden;” reminders to all things left unsaid.

Steadfast the survivors.

Lasting is their love   passions not easily forgotten.


Now, winter’s sleep shrouds the trail.

Trees are bare             tangled webs,

all stand in stark contrast to the dead.

When spring comes forth and the earth awakes,

the children will continue their sleep.

Sing a lament at Poor Robin.






Sonoran Wind


The traveler comes – leads the horse to the well – “drink and refresh amigo.”

Dust lays thick upon the man’s serape. The way is hard, the sun hot.

Birds of death keep watch.

Astride the splintered fence, bastard crows scream and heckle.

The Zuni ghosts laugh and taunt.

“Hombre, no mescal or women here,” the winds whisper; dust devils dance, mirages shimmer.

The shadow of the owl glides so near. A snake spirit whips among the prickly pear.


Man flesh doesn’t sweat in the Sonoran.

The scavengers forever vigilant         air currents provide lift.

The rock mesas echo the puckish bark of the unfed.

Rock Pocket mouse is prey for the fox when the sun goes dark.

The deer fawn falls to the mountain lion if caution is lax.

White-throated rat springs – missed by the diamondback –

life goes on.


The man shares existance through balance.

Only the well breathes life.

The horse retreats from the giving source – sated.

The wind’s breath kicks grit as termites dip and yawn.

A scorpion’s pincers extend and point          defying intrusion.

The Zuni ghosts dance among the tumble weed.


The traveler mounts and turns.


Blowing dust will guide the way.


by G. K. Brannen



Drifting the Delta

Fishes draw the man to water: the spider to the fly, the bee to the pollen, the bird to the Huckle-berry, the dog to the scent. The man is searching for fish secrets. The man wonders at the frog, the minnow, the slippery eel …the water moccasin. The alligator swims as he has swum for a millennium; an iceberg made of flesh and teeth in the savannah. Stealth – unapproachable – an omen! Consume or be consumed. The man stumbles about providing chaos. The man wants to trap time: the current moves on. He wants to catch an evolution, a vertebrate of the inherent. The Fish Hawk screeches at the man to look overboard – a reflection from that watery grave. The sturgeon jumps: a misguided missile from the depths. The log floats downstream: two turtles astride like tourists baking in the sun. The schooled shad make their way up river. The man floats down. Kingfishers skim the water in harmonious ballet.

Time drifting the delta.


by G. K. Brannen

“Scarred Flesh” ….

Scarred Flesh

by G. K. Brannen


Scarred Flesh

Grease is everywhere:

on the chassis, on the floor,

the broken drive-line lying at an awkward angle beneath the tranny.

Split skin on the knuckles      grease is everywhere.

Dirt, grim, and an endless stream of cuss words all come into play when a rebuild is ordered on a Dodge Super-Bee Hemi; the muscle car: big,  bad,    and fast as hell. The big Hurst V-Gate In-line 2: a High Pistol Grip speed shifter for a perfect hookup.

PURE             RAW               POWER

It’s a bastard to stitch together: lotsa scarred flesh, lotsa greasy-grim        lotsa cuss’n. All power goes to the ground; the four/eleven positive traction rear-end is outa the hole like greased lightning – the G-force                     incredible. You fire this puppy up and you’re atop a gated two-year old at Church-Hill Downs.

All you have to do is hang on for five point 7 seconds.

PURE               RAW                POWER


dig … dig hard;

You’re outa control.