Monthly Archives: November 2015

MONUMENTS

 

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The storms line up
like diesel trucks
in the slow lane,

hills green
and scattered cattle
graze ridgetops.

I had forgotten how
heaven looked,
learning to live

with dust and smoke,
all shades of brown—
years without water.

We cannot reduce
all the ghoulish skeletons
to cordwood, clear

these monuments of oak
from mind or eye.
They will remind us

of who we came to be
to survive
what they could not.

 

NO SECRET

 

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The ant, his sting—
the scorpion, his horn—
the lowly on this earth
rise up, adapt.

The cactus spine,
the thistle’s quill
survive the brilliance
that has blinded us.

The coyote knows
we have never been
that exceptional,
except as providers—

making his living
knowing how we think,
then waits
to clean-up behind us.

All our wealth and power,
instant ease and comforts
feed him, yet we are starved
for something more secure

than convenient hearts
carved to hang bejeweled
around our necks
on heavy chains.

It is no secret,
we have lost
our humility,
that sense of awe

that boils us down
to nothing
of any real
significance.

                               for JEG

JOHN CUTLER’S COWBOYS

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In response to a request for my contributions to “Reflections of the West” I’ve posted “John Cutler’s Cowboys” that is also included in “Poems from Dry Creek.”

                    We at last struck a trail that has recently been cut
                    for the purpose of bringing in cattle. It is at an altitude
                    of 7,800 feet. Here is a succession of grassy meadows –
                    one called Big Meadow is several miles in extent.

                                        – William H. Brewer, 18 June 1864

I know the place
my grandfather’s grandfather found
to escape the drought, heard the voices

of his vaqueros when I got turned around
in the tight pines near Ellis Meadow – easy
to lose yourself and time altogether – feel

them close to the black rings of stone.
Up from Eshom where the Yokuts held
their last Ghost Dance that upset the settlers

in Visalia and over Redwood Saddle
to graze Rowell and Sugarloaf bunchgrass.
After nearly a hundred summers,

the cows knew the way.
It’s much the same once off the trail:
pine needle carpets and granite cut

by snowmelt creeks and green stringer
meadows, wind and river talking loud
enough to hear damn-near anything.

                                        ~

“Cloud Waves”

“Waiting for Daylight”

 

“Reflections of the West”

 

I am honored to have work included in the new collection from C. J. Hadley:

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“Reflections of the West” is the sequel to “Brushstrokes and Balladeers: Painters and Poets of the American West,” which was called “stunningly beautiful,” “an eclectic masterpiece,” and “a brilliant concept flawlessly executed.” In 2014, “Brushstrokes” won the prestigious Wrangler award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and two Will Rogers Gold Medallions in Fort Worth for “best poetry book of the year.”

“Reflections of the West: Cowboy painters and poets” includes work from fifty-three poets and thirty painters, who were either born to the ranching life or have gifts extraordinary enough to be able to share it.

 

“Relfections of the West”

 

Kudos, once again, C.J.! A remarkably cohesive project worthy the livestock tribe for generations to come—a landmark publication blending art and poetry inspired in the West, truly a jewel among books. As part of a culture in your debt, I owe you more than thanks, but thanks so much nonetheless. 
– John Dofflemyer

 

IDES OF NOVEMBER

 

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Beneath dark skies
cold up-canyon gusts
strip leaves in showers

of yellows, reds and browns
at provocative angles,
stirring the wild within

to escape dry flesh—
become wet winds
between each limb

and naked twig
to greet the rain’s
drum upon the roof

until we are drunk with it—
blessed and blurry-eyed
to grin with grass.

 

DUCKWEED

 

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Last Sunday, Robbin and I interrupted a Mallard hen and drake feeding on one of our stockwater ponds completely covered with duckweed. On her way out of the pond, the hen seems to be looking for direction from the drake, whether to stay or fly. No bibs in the wild.

 

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Some interesting facts about Duckweed.

 

WAXING

 
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We become the moon
when tides of blood flood the mind
to dance in the rain.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: “Victory”

 

COFFEE AT SEVEN

 

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Breaking early without the lingering
after-rain clouds camped upon ridges
of damp clay and granite turned green,

fractured blinding light claims November
flesh glistening from branch to twig,
dripping jewels, millions of diamonds

sparkling across the flats and we are rich
and shivering, warming deadened scars
around coffee cups to share the moment.

 

GRAZING AND CUD

 

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The old cows know
grazing and cud,
how to a hold a thought

in the shade, how to
let it linger and settle
beneath certain trees,

earth stirred into beds
of moldy leaves.
The scent left

floats to revisit
when grazing’s done.
No secret place,

no special remedy
but time—time
among the grasses.

 

THE BURROWING OWL

 

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This is the rock
you claimed last winter
beside the dusty road I traveled
with bales of hay—
your hole, your home

though I may own it
and all the ground around
the living wage you make
of bugs, beetles and mice.
This is your rock.

 

 

Burrowing Owl