Already we prepare for war, hang
Irish Spring in orchard trees, clear
the battlefield of weeds before

their green turns brown as the latest
batch of baby ground squirrels
watch from the granite outcrops, little

heads peering from our uphill bleachers.
We cheer the appetites of hawks,
eagles and crows, their hungry, noisy

and nested young waiting on a thatch
of twigs, open-mouthed—even
the rattlesnakes these easy swallows.

We clean the .22 and pellet gun.
There is no talk of peace, sagging
hog-wire a poor border to defend,

to hold when we’re away at work
to satisfy the costs of living where
we will always be the intruders.


San Francisco Revisited



The blog has taken a back seat to springtime, repairing watergaps crossing the creek before we gather to start processing our Wagyu X calves, blading firebreaks along the road and various other maintenance chores as we try to stay ahead of trouble with San Francisco still on our minds. Robbin and the birthday boys at AT&T Park in the Audi Legendary Suite above with all the wine and ballpark food we could eat or drink provided by Trefethen Family Vineyards.



Native of the Bay Area, Dave Wilke was our tour guide. We caught the cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf and walked to Scoma’s for another superb seafood meal. Then off to the Buena Vista for the best Irish coffee imaginable.



The next day, nothing would do but to take us to the Tadich Grill, California’s oldest restaurant. Near the financial district, we went afoot from Union Square for excellent Bloody Marys and Cioppino. Then walked to Chinatown and on to North Beach to meet Gordon and Judith Stevens for dinner. A mile and a half one day, followed by two miles the next up and down San Francisco’s hills, I gained new confidence in my replacement knee, knowing that if I broke down somewhere on the ranch that I could make it home.



One last breakfast at Lori’s Diner with Dave and Denise, Robbin and I said good-by to our dear friends. A short trip we’ll never forget.





The untamed, the cultured and civilized
gone wild, hungry for power, rise
out of the cornfields and the canyons

of big city streets, from behind camo
curtains to poach another prize beyond
the reach of more common men and

women if they can—stars on their own sets
that upset the rest of us. That we envy wealth
and freedom, independence—the quick buck

gained by deceit as standard practice
for capitalists and politicians. Take down
the statues of Robert E. Lee, a horseback,

we have models of our own to cast
and enshrine in every city square
for our poor youth to look up to.





Short spring, the grass wants to turn
in the sand and shallow ground, a sunburned
tan, and the birds have turned to serious

nesting, feeding and breeding on the branch,
on the ground or on the redwood railing.
Immigrants, interlopers, the ring-neck doves

cry like babies before landing overhead.
One white female parades the rail
to her drab gray mate’s dance and croon

as we welcome evening with a glass of wine.
Flutter too quick to get a camera, they whine
together, ecstatic as coyotes across the canyon.


San Francisco



Towards the end of a delightful day in San Francisco at Fisherman’s Wharf outside Scoma’s.  The Giants lost to the Dodgers by one run in the 10th.

Who knows what our tour guide has planned for today, but Robbin and I are ready, albeit leg weary, as soon as Dave and Denise check in this a.m.

Though the traffic may seem hectic for country bumpkins, all the varied ethnicities and languages orchestrate a fine example for humanity.




A galaxy apart from pastoral green,

clack and bell of cable cars,

from the granite bench

of  Victoria Secret’s windowed underwear

as I exhale a cigarette

into a metropolitan herd

of expressionless humans

headed somewhere– white

knuckled drive into one-way streets

persistent Siri suggests wrongly.

I wonder what I’m doing here.





My Happy Birthday Song



From a generation that didn’t trust anyone over thirty, a reckless time during the Viet Nam War when few of us envisioned achieving thirty years, seventy is indeed an invigorating landmark, an open gate to new opportunities to make the most of life. I was pleasantly astounded when I received this audio file yesterday morning from our dear friends David Wilke and Denise Withnell, whom we will see in San Francisco to watch the Giants play the Dodgers at AT&T Park on Sunday as we celebrate Dave’s 70th as well.


A storm off the Hawaiian Islands has arrived in the Bay Area as it edges south with a half-inch predicted here for tomorrow. With grass high, calves growing, rain coming, we leave the ranch in good hands.





Trees and flowers
below clouds above the creek
never looked the same.





The eagles have displaced the crows
on the power pole, singly claimed
the overlook of rising feed saved back

for weaning calves, to fall from,
flap and glide close to the ground
squirrel towns submerged in green.

Short skirmish, the eagle fell with one
black wing outstretched beyond
its taloned grasp deep into the grass.

I think I understand wild politics,
its guiltless traits, its territories
and borders, our totems changing.

How humbled were we when
the golden birds chose us
to entertain at dawn and dusk,

but beak and claw I never saw,
just two sets of wings lifting off
in opposite directions. High

at the head of Ragle Canyon
in the granite outcrop, she waits
to be relieved to feed herself.





It’s Easter spring and the hills are green
as they should be, golden fiddleneck
and skiffs of popcorn flowers in between

and we go back to floating scraps
of wood down furrows, sixteen-penny nail,
a mast for leaves. You would retreat

to your throne and princess dreams
in the forks of the walnut tree beyond us all,
or we would drive a team to town

from the dusty seat of the steel-wheeled
manure spreader to visit friends, names
we both remember now after sixty years.

We were turned loose to entertain ourselves,
play with our imaginations before TV
and cell phone screens—more grateful now.

                                                    for my sister Ginni