There is no urgency,
no destination worthy
ignorance along the way—

even on the familiar
road, nothing stays
as it was—and probing

eyes never quite the same.
All the assumptions,
short-cuts to conclusions

we claimed as instinct
that never were:
laziness and wishful

thinking, yet
we blaze away,
unload both barrels

trying to eliminate
our smoky confusion.
We will get there

soon enough. Make
each moment rich
as a Chinese poet.

                    I venture no more than a low whisper,
                    afraid I’ll startle the people of heaven.

                         – Li Po (“Inscribed on a Wall at Summit-Top Temple”)




Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Shine’




December 10, 2015

December 10, 2015


Small at first, rivers spill
High Sierra snowmelt,
water pure as it will ever be

falling to the call of gravity
and time’s relentless roar
over granite smooth, worn

by cataracts and cascades
dressed in rainbow mists
ascending to the whispers

among a million pines—
a timbered mat of arrows
headed to the sky.

We have been there
in our perfect innocence
before our courses

changed the world
as it changed us.
I think it was the waiting

for the war I never served
that made me see that
spilling the blood of boys

could not kill ideas
or forever eliminate
a differing philosophy.

Like water pooled
I am damned again
in someone else’s business

at the whims of men
I’ll never understand
beyond their lust for power

and their addiction to greed
while dancing to the tune
of men and women working

with their heads and hands.
I stay the slope and cling
to the sound of the river

chasing lyrics on paper
since the war—poor poetry
released like mist ascending

to the muse that must
report my plodding progress
to goddesses and gods.






                            another heaven and earth, nowhere people know.
                                   – Li Po (“Mountain Dialogue”)

We are the nowhere people blessed
in nameless places where waves of gold
glint off grasses beyond long shadows

that stream downhill at dawn and dusk,
beyond the instant politic of greed
that lusts for more power over

humanity: all the great hearts secreted
away, shared in private moments as if
outlaws. We are the nowhere people

living an ever-changing dream
of the old ways practiced season
after season, as easily forgotten

as fading chimney smoke—
our ascension from this earth
that flesh cannot escape.


Wordless Wednesday


Neal Lett Photo

Neal Lett Photo


Welcome Back, Lee




Down from the Cedar Grove Pack Station, we’re glad to have Lee Loverin back on the ranch. To have her spell my knees and back bucking bales and feeding hay is a godsend. Light since August, we’ve gradually increased the amount of hay to our first-calf heifers to help them raise month-old calves with growing appetites, and to our replacement heifers to insure they are in shape and cycling when the Wagyu bulls arrive in December. Trying to stay ahead of the game, our philosophy has always been that it’s cheaper to keep the weight on cattle than it is to put it back on after they get thin.

The huge Pacific storm that targeted the Northwest left only a trace of moisture here, not quite enough to even settle the dust. Nothing much in the extended forecast, meanwhile we’ll be feeding hay to our younger girls.






                                        and what’s the work?
                                                            To ease the pain of living.
                                        Everything else, drunken

                                                                      – Allen Ginsberg

I have no appetite for news, yet addicted
to reason less obvious
than the Emperor’s latest haberdashery.

Coffee conversation stops
to the quiet glide of a Cooper’s Hawk
beneath the roof overhead, limp legs

dangling, quail warm before breakfast.
She has chosen the four of us
to interrupt, to remind of naked grace

in a profane world—to ease the taloned
hold of the drunken dumbshow
before we hay the cows

and we feel blessed
for prolonged moments of wonder unwound
to remember who we are.









Into thirsty flesh,
we inhale the smell of rain
upon dry grasses.




Weekly Photo Challenge 2: ‘local’






Out of the southwest, wind
down the dry draw damp—
dust devils dance across
ground grown bare by cows

meeting near the water trough
with the run and buck of calves
finding all four legs to stir
hope for nothing certain:

this first chance of rain.
Time may seem to fly
now that we are older,
or plodding slower shade

to shade with less idleness
to fill with complaint—summer
long and hot, but shorter than
our partnership with drought.



Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘local’






I would like to say that thinking
like cattle is preferable to humans
who need immediate answers

and science to prove them right,
whose urgency demands action
and reaction until the herd’s

thundering hooves stampede
the earth into atomic dust.
Cattle would not press any matter

enough to destroy themselves,
but rather play domestic than wild
given time to weigh your wishes.

Making sense of them you must
be cordial, shed your fear and anger—
try to remember the Golden Rule.


2157 – Twins ( 3 Pix)