In a cloud, horseplay rising
from a two-year drought—
time to feed to breathe.



WPC(4) — “Refraction”




Horse short of wet at dawn,
cattle get the crop of green—
we mow the lawn.



WPC(3) — “Refraction”


So bare, this pasture, you can
see a ground squirrel running
at 300 yards, just ahead

of his light-brown dust trail
streaming to join the dirty air.
Much fewer now with no grass

since their bumper crop last spring,
no place to hide but in a hole
from coyotes, bobcats and hawks.

So bare, these hillsides rising
in dawn’s first light, silhouettes
of cows and calves in clouds

walking off the tops of ridges,
ambling from the high stubble
towards the only water

for a mile along the creekbed
of dry sand and cobbles, sycamores
dressing early for Halloween.

Sixty years ago, an old man
with dirty hands and hat,
bib overalls and grease

whittled a willow-fork
to show me how and where
he was going to drill.





Blessed at first light
with the radiance of hope
for one prolonged moment.



WPC(2) — “Refraction”




Tracks stirred early
to rise and settle slowly
color the way to work.



WPC(1) — “Refraction”




Writing poetry in the dark
before moving cows
and fresh calves
to better pasture,
I ask about the weather
on TV I’ve missed
over a weekend of
making more from less water
while you’ve planted seeds
for a fall garden—more
hopeful than ever before.

You say, ‘More of the same
for the next few days, cooler.’
Two years of dust and drought
have worn us down to basic stuff—
and we like what we see
in one another.



Floral Friday



Despite all the bad news,
let’s live life richly,
one petal at a time.




Under split nails and ground into our hides,
we wear our work—we carry it in our lungs
without shame or regret like grazing beasts

of the field, harvesting hillsides, plodding
from water to shade—ever-trusting in change:
the miracle of clouds packing oceans of rain.

Circles with hay, ruts of dust deep in tracks
up mountains and through brittle canyons—
it boils, rising behind us in trailing clouds,

each particle prepared for a new beginning.
We leave the gates open to any water, any
collection seeping from the cracked granite

heart of these hills, our flesh, for a drink.
The unabashed, dusty gazette of soft trails
leading to each distant water trough

prints last night’s news, distributed far
and wide, but much the same—yet we cling
to fuzzy dreams of green without detail.





WPC(3) — “Dreamy”





tears of joy
no USACE dam can
constrict, nor EIR

predict as if
acronyms save breath
and litigation.

The heavens in my mind
will open up
to consume me

like a leaf rising
upon wild waters come
to cleanup the mess.



WPC(2) — “Dreamy”


Down at the County Seat they have believed
big is better, in growth before maintenance
to attain full-employment and prosperity,

hoping for crumbs from corporate plates—
our wide-eyed chiefs hypnotized
by shiny beads and synthetic blankets.

The colonial model has arrived
for one last, lasting extraction from the land
leaving it useless, ripped naked—its precious,

fresh water exposed for fifty years
of the same reasoning and excuses
for following the wrong dream.

Few people learn from their own mistakes,
and fewer yet from the mistakes of others—
but not admitting them is just plain ignorance.



Valley Voice: Cemex Lemon Cove

Valley Voice: Cemex McKay’s Point