BORDERLINE BAD

 

 

We have fences places
no human’s been to since—
no bovine notices
grazing home

to friends and family
closer to good water and
the feed truck’s track
and us. To be understocked

makes good neighbors
best, barbed wire tangles
under fallen limbs
that will rot before

we ever remove them—
an old man’s economy
between energy and need
that native cows ensure.

 

FLEDGLING

 

 

Turned out of the nest
to make a fortune
on lizards, snakes

and bugs, he explores
the mossy troughs
and warm dirt tanks

for a dependable drink.
Cold clean drops
roll down his throat

as he tips his beak
to the mermaid bathing
motionless—much

to contemplate
and forget
at the ‘sip and dip’

for young eyes I envy
like kittens and puppies
yet to learn the truth.

 

THE CLIMATE OF CHANGE

 

 

On a cool day in hell
they’re sipping lemonade,
holding court, declaring
God to blame for their sins—

for imperfections of soul,
its hollow room filled
with mirrors of themselves
they took too seriously.

The angels rest uneasily
beside Max Parrish pools
looking down on the ground,
even the old cowmen on the ridge

look away from the wreck,
the collision of words, the cloud
of dust that obfuscates the truth
only time will settle.

How long can we be entertained
by delusion, the dissolution
of civility, of compassion
as the planet prepares

for the business of war—
already overstocked with corrals
of houses stacked upon
the fading fruited plains?

 

First-Calf Heifers

 

 

For regular followers accustomed to a short philosophical poem, I’ve been on a sabbatical from the blog for well-over a week, a vacation without one ounce of guilt for not writing or posting daily. All good. We’ve been busy on the ranch nevertheless, as we’ve begun to supplement our younger cows with hay and all our cows with protein licks as our first calves will be arriving in a couple of weeks.

We hauled the girls above to the pasture around our house yesterday, two-year old first-calf heifers due to calve in the middle of September. In years past, we would have driven them the two miles here through three different occupied pastures and across the road. We hauled 53 head instead, rather than risk any mix-ups with our neighbor’s steers. For whatever reason, the heifers were plumb silly, making yesterday one of my hardest loading experiences in fifty years.

Though we had hay laid out to the water trough to welcome them to their new digs, Robbin and I went out this morning to feed them again and to help them acclimate to the dry feed after having spent all summer on the irrigated pasture. Right now they’re lost, but have calmed down substantially since yesterday’s debacle.

I’m working on a longer poem for a documentary produced by the American Angus Association, having to change my style to fit what I perceive the film to be. Tough sledding as I keep adding notions and ideas to the piece. Meanwhile, I’ve been somewhat satisfied with shorter pieces scratched out in the evenings like:

 

                                             NAMES

                                             From kid
                                                  to boy
                                                  to son
                                                  to man
                                                  to pard
                                                  to dude
                                                  to bud
                                                  to boss
                                                  to SOB,
                                             I know my name.

 

Finally

 

 

Clear skies after three weeks of smoke trapped in the San Joaquin Valley from the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite, one of seventeen fires being fought in California in 100+ degree temperatures. Unfortunately, the winds that cleared the Valley also fed the fires. The Mendocino Complex, the Ranch Fire and the River Fire, nearly doubled in size over the weekend, 266,000 acres that is only 33% contained and has become the fourth largest in State history.

Overlooked by the pundits and politicians are the lasting impacts of our four-year drought (2013-2016) that will provide fuel for years to come. But for the moment, blue skies.

 

EASY EXITS

 

 

Names and faces visit in foggy times
pausing on the edge of placid dreams
where the Muses come to bathe

in the half-light—long lost characters
who’ve grown old or shed the weight of flesh
to move more freely now towards clarity,

ephemeral moments without words,
but with quiet wonderment instead
reflected in our eyes. There may be

another plane, another row of seats
above to watch the show with easy
exits when the drama gets too thick,

when hateful hearts want war. I hope so.
It would be hell to have to witness
the slow disambiguation of the future.

 

DREAMSCAPES

 

 

As Apollo heads to the barn
to feed his steeds, to hang
silver-studded harnesses

on their pegs to retire,
the black comes back
and darkness begs our dreams

to dance in another light
as mind and flesh run free.
The light within illuminates

what we crave and fear—
storylines for stage plays
directed in our sleep.

Some shake us awake
to write them down—and
some remain on our minds.

 

OBNOXIOUS DOWN PAT

 

 

Low blacks in sweats, a kid
finds the bench I watch people from
while smoking a cigarette away

from the ocean-view rooms—
sidles-up like an innocuous snake
or a squirrel from under the boardwalk

to share conversation with a man
three times his age. He wants to know
if I think the world is flat—

waves crashing, tide retreating,
blaze compressed in the haze—
he’s got obnoxious down pat.

Clutching a lighter in his tight fist,
I leave him a smoke on the bench
to watch it roll off the edge.

 

FORTY DEGREES

Moonstone Beach,
Sea Chest:
oysters on the half shell,

calamari, Eberle 
cab and crab legs
awaken to fog

two and a half hours
and forty degrees
from home.

A TIME TO EMULATE

 

 

Fat calves in the pipeline
to your plate, cows
vacationing on hollow dry

bronze feed, the scent of cuds
early to the shade
of sycamore and oak trees,

quiet gossiping telepathically—
it’s taken days to unwind,
coast to a more pensive pace.