Monthly Archives: July 2015

Blackberry Patch



Under monsoonal cloud cover and smoke from a fire on the North Fork of the Kaweah yesterday, the girls and I picked wild blackberries this morning after we got our chores done.





One hundred ten degrees,
a kestrel lights where water sprays
the onion bed and bathes—

then soon its mate,
or so it seems at a distance
in the fuzzy heat.

Now in the morning black
my desk lamp brings
gnats to the window glass,

and tree frogs on a slick,
perpendicular hunt, vying
for positioning, carefully

lifting one foot at a time.
I imagine now the herd
of tree frogs seeking cover

at the kestrels’ landing,
great hops into the thick
onion stems and berry vines

dripping with wonder:
new habits on a timer
every summer evening at six.






In the early stillness
when sky is white
above the ridgeline,

hollow coos
of Roadrunners
spill off dark hillsides,

a sprinkle of sounds
almost like a song
for themselves—

or for all of us
who have endured
these years of drought

to rise early yet
to carry on
upon this earth.

Blessed are the birds—
may their gods
be ours.




Following an old hill track within dry
grasses and trees, dust worn thin,
soft and deep by pad and hoof,

dark shadows reach for shades of brown.
Once blond heads of wild oats bent
by breezes, now bleached by the sun,

hang empty and delicate on hollow stems
awaiting grazing or a rain to lay them down
atop the rosy clutch of fillaree

claiming ground in brittle curls beneath.
Blue Oaks gray with turquoise leaves,
leather-like among the naked skeletons

of grandfathers shedding limbs, lesions
of good hardwood, too heavy to support
without water on these battlefields,

the wounded and dead-standing, but
decomposing monuments to better centuries—
a range of color spreading into dying light.






No easy lift-off
with a dust coat of pollen
for a bumblebee.



WPC(2) — “Close-Up”






July dragonflies,
near collisions of color
even in dry times



WPC(1) — “Close-Up”




                                                                       That I
                                        may have spoken well
                                        at times, is not natural.
                                        A wonder is what it is.

                                             – Wendell Berry (“A Warning To My Readers”)

Those who work beside me hear
the gerunds and gerundives mesh
with coarser nouns and verbs
that flourish on unlevel landscapes
among the animals and birds,

or whispered under breath
in politer conversation
like adding grain to polished wood—
profane accents and accidents
straining to leap from my tongue.




The Elberta ripens
thinned by ground squirrels—
dogs bark at night:
raccoons down from the hills.

I have lost my car again
trapped in another strange place
without friends, backtracking
in my dreams to rise

in the dark, fumble
for a light too bright
to find my way outside
to follow the dogs with a rifle

to the gate beside the peach tree.
No eyes burning in the black,
barking fades out of range,
I am now awake

and wonder what it takes
to save a peach,
or why we bother—
other than its taste.






Checking water, hillside springs
plumbed to troughs, a coyote pup,
on the lope and looking back

as if heading home, is common.
Beyond the den, this is his home,
this is his water—we are

unknown intruders, enigmas
making rounds in these hills,
following trails to waterholes

where wild waits
and congregates
as it shrinks into August.

With our eye, we measure
flow at the end of rusty pipe—
with our lungs, blow water

backwards to the spring box
to clear debris and sediment,
seldom clean. Yesterday,

I got to be giant
with two tree frogs dancing
on my tongue.






The best of both breeds,
hybrid vigor well-beyond
their English parents.




WPC (2) ‘Half & Half’