We hold our breath
Memorial Day weekend
winds up, hear
the gears whine,
feel the speed
barbed wire either side—
listening for the abrupt,
the certain screech
as you fade up the canyon.
We pray for your mother.
This post begins the new category of ‘DECK POEMS': John & Robbin’s evening collaborations.
The wild of Japan
bloom with ranch vegetables
under a gray sky.
The creatures love it:
light April showers in May
Too young to be wise within
the great old barn Homer built
to hold dry-land hay before the bales—
pulleys and rail, tall mangers either side
for teams of horseflesh, wooden floor
tourist cameras never see.
From the rafters of rough-cut fir
the world is small, the only light
leaks under eaves.
Cost too great to restore my dreams
of slower days and longer nights,
I wonder—wherein wisdom reigns.
The boys are on vacation across the creek as we gather to wean our calves from their mothers. With each new bull added to their pasture, primal bellows ring up and down the canyon as they establish a new pecking order since they were last together.
The Mrnak Herefords have been the basis of our crossbreeding program, adding heterosis, or bybrid vigor, to our Angus cow herd. ‘119’, pictured above, has completed his third year of service with every cow in his pasture recently palpated bred, a remarkable accomplishment considering the steep terrain.
Two years ago he broke one his horns in a battle with an Angus bull, two years his senior, that ended tragically for the Angus. Fortunately, we were able to doctor and repair his broken horn. King of our bulls, he still has to prove himself as the recent raw spots between his horns attest.
Nothing today. No rain, but cool
for not blooming, producing fruit.
It’s how the seasons raise us
on the uneven ground within
the wild, small irrigated spaces
we inhabit with routine
worn smooth by calloused hands.
We have become domestic
after all these years
of shipping truckloads to town,
watching our harvest disappear
down the road—
nothing today, but good habits.
to outrageous misfortune:
puff up like a toad.
WPC(3) — “enveloped”
No day to gather
cattle in a sea of fog—
just wait by the fire.
WPC(2) — “enveloped”
In these hills, a man finds space that feels
familiar and friendly, and it must ask
in ways where we hang empty words
like ribbon just to find our way back – but
we stay a moment and let our horses blow.
They feel it – perhaps they feel it first
and do the asking of the place, or perhaps
it is the shards of light diffused at dawn
upon the many-legged oaks standing
knee-deep in grasses on the near ridge
that shield us from man’s square creations,
his cubic thinking. Perhaps the sensual grace
of limb or slope, or granite worn to look
inside our minds, but there are places
that ask nothing else of us but to breathe
and taste the air, inhale with our eyes
and drink with our flesh for just a moment.
Once dared, it becomes ever-easier to be
enveloped with the wild, an addictive peace
that embraces awe as eagerly as a child
might love – where a man can ride beyond
his time and station, beyond the tracks of those
before him: spaces that beg a moment’s notice
where both grand and simple revelations
are left and learned and lived in place.
“Poems from Dry Creek” (Starhaven 2008)
WPC(1) — “enveloped”
Gray overcast in May at dawn,
stillness separated from a slow
awakening downcanyon, not a breath
to shape the thin white cloud
hanging this side of Sulphur Peak
frozen in my mind. Time has stopped
to hold the finches and sparrows
closer to their nests, coyotes linger
curling in their dens as we drink
another cup in silence, inhaling
this fresh dampness with a cigarette.
Softened hillsides begin to breathe
and sigh refreshed—even the barn
comes clean and alive. Pleasantly
dumbfounded, we add occasional
adjectives, fail to complete
a thought out loud, but nothing
interrupts what our old eyes see.