Long stiff with the sweat of years,
I see myself beneath its dust, retired
from the common ignorance of haste.
All the timed events, all the wild cattle
made by the chase are scars etched
in fragile leather, some in my brain
as sweet memories of riding high,
shoulder to shoulder in the gather
of good men shaped by this landscape
that will outlast us in the end. Too soon
old, they say, too late wise, I could
always have taken better care of time,
thrown away the watches and clocks
and invested it in the real observation
of other living things—even the smallest
of which has a mission to teach us
the hard way. And what I fail to see—
this slow creak of bones will illuminate.
If you are a fish
you find an eddy
behind a boulder
or a cutbank
by a tree root
ride the current
We swim upstream
for the perfect place
to make our livings—
where rivers start
close to the stars,
deep in the pines,
where water falls
fast and cold
all year long—
but always swimming
against the flow
just to hold our own.
Posted in Poems 2016
Muggy morning beneath a raft of clouds
docked against the Sierras steals molecules
of oxygen beside the last hole dug for granddad’s
gravel that now traps tailwater from the pasture
in the summer, its dark, stagnant pool teams
with amoeba and paramecium, a fermenting
stench swum only by cormorants and mud hens.
Sweet fragrance on a gust startles my senses
to search the dry grass for color, tree limbs
for blossoms from willow to sycamore,
blackberry to cottonwood, but none in flower
before the forecast Mother’s Day thunderstorms.
Perfumed tendrils cling like Christmas lights
from branches and I am drenched, taste damp
sweetness as I become wild grapes in bloom.
Everyone is old or fat
like feed bunk cattle
sorted to a pen to wait
for the magic of machines
to screen the heart—
the pump and pipelines
to mind and flesh.
In the 60s I was sure
I’d never see thirty,
made no plans past the Draft
on the other side of tomorrow.
The army trained her
for Desert Storm
right out of high school.
She shaves my chest,
connects the wires.
fast at first,
slow to find
a longer stride
on the treadmill.
From the sidelines,
a new team on the field
to keep the machinery
running a little longer,
another election to survive
like all the rest.
I drive home lightheaded,
with a muggy sky,
chance of thunderstorms
and fire, now that we have grass—
wild oats over my head.
No straight line,
the road to here
ricocheted with heart,
a flush of passion
left at every curve
I cannot measure,
as reducing stress.
Apparently I’m taking a break from daily blogging, and frankly, it feels good. We’re in maintenance mode, getting our equipment serviced and repaired before we begin weaning some nice calves this year. The market is off by a third from last year, nearly a dollar/pound, and we won’t have as many as calves to sell as before the drought, our cow herd down by 40%. We’ll see some red ink this season.
The good news is that we have lots of grass that ought to carry us through until fall. We also have some awfully nice replacement heifers that pre-checked well, bred to Wagyu bulls, as we begin our rebuilding process. At 18 months they averaged 1100 pounds, due to calve in mid-September.
More than likely posts will be sporadic for awhile.