Two Poems by Paul Belz

Point Reyes Remains

Imagine limousines slicing through Pacific winds.
What if putting greens sprawled on coastal scrub?

This never occurred. No cul de sacs now.
Thirty pelicans rise, dip, bounce over waves,
turn and wheel above sandstone cliffs.
No Mercedes-Benz, just brown and gray quail
shaking tassels, herding young into coyote bush,
away from fox. Praise us a little, why don’t you?

Some dreamt of asphalt here. Split levels,
Chandeliers, saunas, dry bars,
picture windows facing the sea. They lost.

No wine bars or chateaubriand
with weekend jazz. Just osprey
flashing white from their wings, sticks in beaks
for nests in Douglas firs. Sometimes we got foresight!

No hair salons, just great egrets, tall white birds
strolling through marshes, beaks poised for frogs.
No cars – just sparrows singing in pines.
No cigar shops, only wildflowers and elk.
Houses don’t thrive here. Whales rise,
spray the sea, flash tails and flukes to the fog,
dive deeper than light can reach for a feast.
Sing our praises just this once.

The Lizard Catcher

Ten years old, she named the lizard Jim,
held him gently by his neck,
that blue belly she caught without my permission.
He twisted his head, nipped her with tiny teeth.
“Stop, Jim!” she giggled, and shared him with the class.
“Let him go!” I told the uncontrolled girl
of deep voice, shoulder length hair,
demim shorts, paintless nails. She grinned.
All the kids longed to touch his scales,
this bit of bumpy wildness in their friend’s hand.
“Set him free!” Contented by his rough touch,
she placed him on an oak’s root. Her friends sighed.
Reptile scampered over crunching leaves, dusty soil,
to darkness and safety in a log’s crack.
“Bye, Jim,” she whispered. “I’ll join you there.”



Paul Belz is an environmental educator and writer, currently based in Chico, California. He teaches natural history for preschool and elementary students, their parents, and teachers. Paul has published articles in Terrain Magazine, the East Bay Monthly, Childcare Exchange Magazine, the website Boots’n’All, and the blogs Wild Oakland and Green Adventures Travel. He’s co-editing a book on bioregional education with Judy Goldhaft of San Francisco’s Planet Drum Foundation. His poetry appears in a number of publications, including Canary, Living in the Land of the Dead (an anthology on homelessness by San Francisco’s Faithful Fools Ministry), Poetalk Quarterly, Just Like Cabbage, Only Different, The Poeming Pigeon, Blueline, the anthology What’s Nature Got to Do With Me? and others. His other joys include hiking and camping, world travel, vegetarian cooking, and long walks around San Francisco and his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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