Age brings hard burdens,
But at worst cools hot blood and sets men free
From the sexual compulsions that madden youth.
– Robinson Jeffers (“Oysters”)
In those days, it was important to be included—
all the Kaweah’s loud cowboy sons of pioneers
shaking hardened hands, raising glasses before plastic
deadened the rattle of ice and whiskey, before
two divorces and twenty years of my crazed youth—
one more young one pacing the barbed wire.
Homer’s summer nut feed after the calves were marked,
he on the third or fourth of eight wives wed, gold
teeth winking, right-up to his last breath bragging
how he horned the young bulls off—our legend
and proof of the power of oysters to intensify,
to get high and go clear blind on testosterone.
It doesn’t matter now that he is gone, damn-near all
of them grazing other dimensions to yet hear the hollers
up and down this old watershed without the biscuits,
without the gravy, without the frittered golden brown
warm and melting on the tongue. Pass the salt and pepper.
A pagan feast of cowmen come to beat their drums.
for Forrest Homer