Monthly Archives: August 2012

Almost Gray

Almost Blue

8:15 p.m. – August 30, 2012


Midday August, we are disturbing
cows in brush shade rising from soft
hollows pawed in the live oak draws

to welcome brothers into their home
and leave the contemplation of life,
knocking in their bellies, behind

in the trees—to forget the inevitable
dreams of rain. Curious, they recognize
a new face, comfortably ignoring it

as we do one another visiting the familiar
over a quick count and a few flakes of hay.
Old men now looking over brittle ground

strewn with burnt, Blue Oak leaves and
early dark acorns, fractured yellow grasses
with each passing of hoof and wheel.

Good water here—this is his legacy,
his hold to the rock, his ready escape
from the urgencies of the valley

where cows come easily to greet us.
I need not see through his eyes beyond
this dry and brittle season, we feel it.

                                                    for Todd


Not much different than cows
who think they pick their way
grazing where they want, we

welcome the visiting gods
with wagon loads of plans
to improve our farm ground,

shopping centers in alfalfa fields,
foothill cities where only leftovers
trickle down. We surrender

to the hard and lean times,
let them have their way
like the natives before us.



The long-awaited General Plan Update 2:00 p.m. today,
Tulare County Board of Supervisors.


Wagyu Calves continued…

Robbin and I fed and checked the first-calf heifers this morning to find three new calves, and unfortunately, a 4th born dead to what would have been a nice cow. The heifers are beginning to set up nurseries and segregate themselves from those that are farther off. Despite thinning the coyote population, we always feel better once the nurseries begin to develop.


I keep all my shafts of light loosely wrapped
in tissue paper, dust motes swirling perpetually
in beams through cracked shingles on the shed

roof as we took turns urging invisible steeds
to new adventures, towards friends in town,
exchanging reins behind the empty tongue

of the manure spreader parked for decades,
just in case, beyond the barn and vineyard
canes waving at all time gone by before us.

Or through the stained glass high above
the carved oak pulpit in the adobe chapel
where I heard the call as a tiny particle

washed and floating in God’s eye, yet soon
forsaken once outside perfection. Or just before
she died, the pastel heavens streaking through

February clouds gathered before the dawn
upon the whole Kaweah watershed as folds
in her bedclothes—loosely wrapped and close

for times like this, saved to stave the hateful
rhetoric of prejudice and fears—as my ambiguous
solace from the obvious on election years.


Too often, I start with the conclusion
and walk backwards to make sure
I don’t lose sight of it, check

perspective with each sliding, baby step
to peer through holes in the rocks and trees
for dark movement, like cattle grazing

in the brush across the canyon. Sometimes
just parking, letting your horse stand as your
combined eyes and ears inhale the hillside

while the world’s clock ticks, skipping a few
beats to fall out of sync with the perfect
perjuries, can be enough in your quest.

But beware of slogans and sure sounds
that stir the blood without warning, bait
traps and ensure a life of hating enemies.

Robbin and I got out early yesterday to check our 1st-calf heifers on both sides of the road: four calves on each side with quite a few heifers close-up. Then moved the water on the pasture before putting-out some molasses tubs on the way up to Greasy. We were delighted to see this little bunch of turkeys—the same bunch of hens banded together with their offspring that we saw while gathering and weaning last June. They made it!


I might as well be naked, shoeless
in the brambles, useless as the clear
blue sky than to leave without a knife

folded in my pocket, its smooth bone
wearing new denim thin for decades
pressed against my left thigh, still

ready for work. So long ago, you
can’t remember your Christmas gift,
our any excuse to swap cutlery, a Case

Copperhead, four-inch lock-back blade
of surgical stainless steel that still glints
beneath my moustache, feeding hay—

old flatbed rocking on auto-pilot
across a blond oat flat, shiny black
heifers lined-out happy behind me.

Each time I reach to unfold it:
we are young men. Yet,
so much depends upon its edge.

                                                            for Gary

August Sunrise

August 18, 2012

Our days noticeably shorter, we’ve lost about an hour’s daylight in the morning since the Summer Solstice. This photo @ 6:24 a.m. Our high temperatures, still above 100°, but we’ve enjoyed the break from 110°.