HOMEMAKING

 

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                        Perhaps man has a hundred senses, and when he dies
                        only the five senses that we know perish with him,
                        and the other ninety-five remain alive.

                              – Anton Chekhov (“The Cherry Orchard”)

The past walks here, all the dead
horses and livestock men grazing
a hundred and fifty springs—

all the promises and passion spilled
upon this wild mat of grass and flowers,
naked lovers idly pinching petals

along the creek for centuries
within the mottled shade
these same trees have cast, yet see

to keep alive. We have had
our moments here, left ourselves
so wholly that we rise and rest

among them, add our song
to the canyon, our cries to the sky
to forever make our home.

 

COWGIRLS AT WORK

 

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Crossing into spring
to move the low cattle up
to let the grass grow.

 

HOMECOMING

 

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On the low, rocky ridge,
a Roadrunner moans for a mate
in declining octaves—first awake

February mornings, ever hopeful
for a better day of circumnavigating
barn and garden. Then returns

to hear his song carry to the creek
that has found the river now
for the first time in years, tying

dry ground, this canyon together—
breathing easier, whole again,
it spreads coolly through us

as Wood Ducks skip upstream
to feed beneath the canopies
of old oaks and sycamores.

We have learned the call,
draw him closer with an answer
only more rain can bring.

 

BABY BLUE EYES

 

Nemophila menziesii - February, 24, 2015

Nemophila menziesii – February, 24, 2015

 

Delicate patches
along the creek, they flourish—
mother’s favorite.

 

NEVER ALONE

 

Easter 2013

Easter 2013

 

I made a joke of it:
attending funerals
as the price of survival—

saying goodbye, adios
as their souls ascended
to meet eternity, look

down occasionally
on our plight
of being human

and whisper in our ears.
With no wants,
they must envy

the depth of our passion
and its sensitive
entanglements, our pride

erected and dedicated
for their inspection.
We are never alone.

 

 

WPC(3) — “Rule of Thirds”

 

REAL LIFE

 

Whitetip Clover (Trifolium variegatum) - March 24, 2013

Whitetip Clover (Trifolium variegatum) – March 24, 2013

 

In the dark I hear the heartbeat
of another world on this planet
the newscasts miss, we overlook

amid conflicting calculations
with new angles on the numbers
to chart a course to reverse them—

eyes spinning within a slot machine.
Light applause on the roof
answers with one more encore

wrenched from early morning’s
black sky, each green blade,
thick as dog hair in these hills

puddled with brightly colored petals
already reaching for first light.
In the dark I hear the heartbeat

of wet ground growing stronger,
inhale its sweet breath
all-around me releasing life.

 

 

WPC(2) — “Rule of Thirds”

 

TOWARDS TONOPAH

 

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Left 100 miles
towards Tonopah, dry hay
for California.

 

 

WPC(1) — “Rule of Thirds”

ALMOST MARCH

 

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Thin veil of snow on the Kaweahs—
granite shows on peaks undressing.
The creek slows and disappears

as the thirsty earth drinks miles
from the river, puddled behind a dam
that will not fill the Valley’s furrows.

Tan medallions, last spring’s leaves
quiver from brittle fingers of oak trees
sprinkling green hills, giving centuries

of rainfall back as decomposing homes
for smaller survivors. It is not over
despite a forecast chance of rain—

dry seasons last, leave evidence only
years of floods can erase. Almost March,
the buzzards have returned early

circling an easy harmony of generations
gone—each clear voice rising,
we hear assurance and good advice.

 

LIKE CATTLE

February 15, 2015

February 15, 2015

 

                         the green growth the mind takes
                         from the pastures in March;

                              – Wendell Berry (“Goods”)

Like cattle filling bellies
becoming whole to bloom,
resting early in the shade of limbs
awaiting leaves, the pastures pulse
with goodness for as far as I can see.

How spring seemed so much longer
when I was a boy, the world wider
as the hills came alive, breathing
easily as apparitions danced
upon the green between rains.

And it becomes us to overwhelm
all else—renewed proof and hope
for mankind—pattern and possibility
yet on this earth that we absorb
like grass. And we feed upon it.

 

SMALL TOWNS

 

There is no hiding within
rural communities, the gossip hubs
of small towns team with news

at the doughnut shop, the feed store
trading in common tragedies:
DUIs, divorces, suicides.

We learn to live with guilt, grab
hold to stand beside the twisted
truth of being human, wear

the shame of each unpolished flaw
to endure self-inflicted tortures
until we escape this flesh.

No one is anonymous, no passing
face on the street. But sometimes
all the imperfections bloom

beyond the anguish, each petal
turned skyward to drink up the sun
and rain—and we are whole

for moments that no one has words
to describe, or time to take
to indulge in such nonsense.