Four miles up the hill, on the other side of
Greasy Creek cut deep and narrow enough
to hang an empty gooseneck up, hide bat
and board shack and poor corrals to sort
and ship two sections of poison oak rising
into granite domes and fractured rocks
the size of pickups stacked and resting
to greet gravity, Leroy Chico and his band
let their horses from the reservation blow
part-way up the steep north slope, leaking
streams, thatched with live oak, manzanita
amid the deadfall, for a final circle, one
last pass through the boulder grooves
and cow trails tunneled by high heads
of Brahma mamas and slick calves, their
native four year-old sires that know the
‘Falling-Off-Place’, where escape is easy –
and that peckerwood posts, broken boards,
rusty panels bowed below, twisted-in and
overgrown among eternal China Berries
beside their light replacements wired
for looks, optimistically to new T-posts, will
forever be the anti-magnetic, wrong direction –
has sold again, educated and out-lasted
half-a-dozen men in forty years with no impact
other than, as I thought back then, a young
man may die broke if he got it for nothing.

Leroy Chico

John & Awbrey Riddle

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