Raised with roaches,
I warmed to the tropics,
its trellis tendrils and sleepy
plants, its hosts of species
from boyhood’s lush biota.

The stench of sweet coffee
blossoms evoked the gardenia
of the past, june bugs thwacking
against the rusted screen
mesh, praying mantes.

What grew there grows
along the Gulf. You get hook
worms through your feet, keep
eyes peeled for scorpions
and venomous snakes,
live with with ubiquitous
itch, scratch, bite.

Torpid after morning rain,
you draw in spores, as
from a lover’s yawning
mouth, the familiar dank waft
of seeds sprouting into rot.


“Biota” expresses my wonderment when I found myself in Africa in 1967 and discovered that the flora and fauna of my semi-tropical boyhood along the Texas Gulf Coast merged into that of the tropics proper.