Monthly Archives: September 2013


I walked miles with myself
and a rifle shooting squirrels,
skinning rattlesnakes and listening
to sprawling oak trees speak,
often as a boy. Hawks and buzzards
eyed me suspiciously, gave me
space and a name that cut both ways
and waited while I made up my mind.

In those days, propaganda
was a dirty word—nowadays
it’s all we ever know.
With good advertising
employing every sense of being
someone, we sell planned obsolescence
like hotcakes—each bite
paid for with a little bit of soul.

                                             for David Wilke

Breakfast on the Pasture


While changing my water on the irrigated pasture this morning, I was met by last spring’s hatch of young turkeys coming out of the riparian of Dry Creek to have their breakfast of bugs on the pasture. Though I never saw a tom, I watched a couple of hens that seemed to be nesting last spring. This is the first successful hatch on this portion of Dry Creek to my knowledge. The thick riparian jungle should offer ample cover in the years to come.


Cool dark breeze
through the screen door,
mud grips whine upcanyon,
men’s faces lit by flames
exaggerate bucks in rut
before the hunt—like
headlights on narrow curves
slow to follow, scanning space
all the way up the mountain
where Cutlers ran cattle
for almost a century.

I have hungered
for venison, felt the tough
wild rush through my flesh
on the scent of it
cooked over fire—believe
to have absorbed his eye,
his stealth and stamina
as I inhale his grace—
just as I have hungered
for the company of certain men
and drink, for the camaraderie
of calloused hands and hearts
wide open to the stars.

Shadequarter Mountain


A welcome weather change with high temperatures dipping down to 78 degrees yesterday with a low this morning of 49. If you look closely or click to enlarge the photo, you may see the Shadequarter Fire lookout Station.


An interrupted dream, of course,
without the constraint of time—
the near and distant, live and dead

working as one generation bent
to a joyous harvest fresh
with obstacles to overcome

on a common landscape. The old
barn that burned is still standing,
still harboring Black Widows

we work around, laughing about
all we know now—our syndicate,
our union of attitude tangled

with busy arms and legs
into an efficient dance
on the same ground. As it tries

to escape, I hold a pastel
rural scene without the feeling
of machinery or electric lights

like an open door to reenter,
someday, to be among the voices
of those before and yet to come.


It should be easy to grow
old, day after day, buffeted
by the seasons like a barn

standing—like the tree it was—
with character, weathered veins
of roughcut 1 x 12s showing

in certain light. The storms
have names we have forgotten
now, but we are not afraid

of what we have survived,
not even the sounds of strain
that creak in our timbers.

We spend years preparing
for a simple life without
knowing it, stripping away

the weight of our ornaments
and obsessive diversions
to put a shoulder into the wind.

And braced with a stiff drink,
we grin again into the face
of the next storm coming.


Barn Nest


Weather Change


Not an insignificant weather change yesterday as we caught the tail-end of a northern storm, dropping temperatures ten degrees or more to clear the air with blustering breezes, clouds stacked along the foothills and a little rain in the Sierras. Typically too early for rain to help our country as the germinated grass seed won’t survive our warm fall days, but we’re tickled nonetheless for the change. I did see my first Bald Eagle this morning that apparently came south with the storm. I don’t recall Bald Eagles showing up so early, this one in the top of a Valley Oak watching some Teal on our irrigation pond. The heifers above were coming into the feed ground this morning, as a few clouds still trail the cold front. Beautiful day!


The sun hangs behind the ridge
to glow for a moment at the equinox,
take time to visit Nevada before climbing

the Sierras into our blinding daybreak. After
longer nights, the clay and granite slopes
of this canyon oven, cool now at dawn

prolonged—the urgency of work gone
as we plod once more with certain hope
beyond the months of blistering dry heat.

We suffer summer for the other seasons
when it might storm, damp air teeming
with fresh potential inhaled into our flesh—

we come alive, breathe relief. The gods
take their sweet time to find their places
in the light—tease us, please us now.


Harvest Moon through Valley Oak