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Gray Tree Frog


Our surprisingly small but favorite Martian,

The gray tree frog—

That Peeping Tom Thumb

You may have exposed on a window one night

Ogling your mom by the moon,

Or looking very hung-over in the morning—

A spongy little gnome

With a sly and sleepy gaze

And suction pad on every toe,

Who must have fell from outer space—

But no, he just crept down from the trees.


The gray tree frog,

Who made the move up from the original pad,

Who wasn’t content on a lateral log,

Squatting in mud like a down-and-out cad,

Or up to his eyeballs in simmering slime,

Viewing nothing but swamp all the time.

And that’s where he sprang from his bath

With Eureka! and all his new math:

He’ll acquire some alpinist gear

And hang with the birds in the trees!

Take in the sights and the breeze

And sing for the whole world to hear!

So he mastered the tree-climbing arts.

He’s come to top all but the charts—

What warbler would say he can sing?

And yet near the heart of the spring

When he drops to his homies to spawn,

He’s not received like a long-lost Mallory.

No, here’s Gray, they affirm with a yawn,

The frog from up in the peanut gallery.


But gray?  That’s like calling a starlet blonde.

He’s only gray when gray’s the most.


True, there he is on your window

In his gray flannel suit.


But now he’s composed on a leaf

And as green as our dreams of Eden.


Look at the tree-hugger, squeezing an oak:

He’s the spitting image of a mottled lichen!


He’s down on bare earth: clay brown.

On forest floor: olive stippled black.


A very moony night:

He’s as sheet-white as a bullfrog ghost!


But by dawn he’s back on your pane

Like a brooch made of pearl.


No frog dresses smarter

Or keeps his tailor as busy—


And all to be his own iconoclast.


After all,

He’s only ever invited to dinner

To be on the menu.


His two inspiring idols

Are Lady Gaga and the Invisible Man.



Every day’s end is the End

For the gray tree frog.

You’ve heard him past sundown, haven’t you?

The horror! The horror! is what he bleats

In his schoolmarm soprano hysterics,

Making the homiest woods seem haunted.

And if daybreak briefly consoles him,

He's barely forgiven the risen sun

For its reckless departure

When it’s sinking in the west once again.

Now, if some have heard in those shivering cries

A latent fear of heights,

Wait for the sequel to his great leap upward,

When at the nearest pass of his branch

He vaults to our favorite wanderer

And becomes the moon frog, the gray moon frog,

The very first frog on the moon.



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