Coyotes connect beneath a Harvest Moon risen
to make light of night shadows, young yip solos
rush into choruses that pull at dog hearts at work—
MPs on patrol, to join them. The wet stinking green
of your jungle war, I think of you often now, pushing
sod at home forever wounded, a momentary flash
of flesh the earth is absorbing, you could not end it—
not even with poetry, though we tried and cried
over miles of lines and poles to your barricade
of stacked straw bales, trailer camped alone
in snow, to dig your way out with words—
with cowboy metaphors for a broken heart.
You see, my friend, it has become a business
advertising fear enough to make us cower
to power and profit, the ultimate redeemer,
the sanctification we endorse to be left alone
with all our hungers satisfied, give or take
a life or two of the fifty-seven thousand—
not the Western adventure for a young Marine
hero. Coyotes connect beneath a Harvest Moon
risen to make light of night shadows before dawn.
She knows now,
how to be a mother—
and sharp eye,
to the soft talk
upon each breath,
the language of cows:
the umbilical stretched
from the warm womb
to grow and graze
a dry and brittle world.
Born in a drought,
she can be a mother
in any kind of weather.
Heads down, our future grazes green
on the edge of time, on ground
the river met with Dry Creek—
all the round cobbles mined
to build the county seat gone wild
with willows and cottonwoods,
natives claiming space we named
between the Kaweah and Wutchumna
Hill. Nothing is the same for us
or them as they mature to become cows.
Heads down, it is easy to forget
to look up at where we’ve come from.
Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Edge’
Progress parallels the creek,
follows a crumbling dirt track paved
up canyon past the end of power poles
and the double yellow line,
the busy bulk of it beyond
the hazy ridgeline—
beyond thinking past water
when the creek is dry
Caravans of Christians
craving altitude, the new shine
of fifth-wheels pulling for the pines—
the guttural rumble, leather herds
of Harleys and the bright spandex
of cyclists pass us by
as if we were a landscape
to endure along the way
to something better.
Try as we might to push our calving date back two weeks to avoid the first of September heat, the bulls would hear nothing of it, repeatedly visiting our neighbor’s virgin heifers intended for Wagyu bulls. Also, we were under the influence of Big El Niño prognostications, wet weather for the first half of December that could hamper hauling the bulls up the hill to our older cows. With the stars and daylight hours aligned with our bulls’ internal clocks, we opted to let them go to work rather than having to bring them home and fixing fence everyday.
Nine months later, our own internal calendars click to new beginnings as the calves come, a new season and new year as we begin to leave summer behind and wait for the first rains to start the green feed, that unpredictable time of year when we harvest grass with cows to raise another crop of calves. Welcoming the shorter days, we’re saddled-up and ready, looking forward to another wild ride.
While checking the replacement heifers on the irrigated pasture yesterday morning, I almost ran over this Ibis in the Kubota, looking at cattle instead of where I was going. In July 2015, I photographed a Glossy Ibis on the shore of our irrigation pond.
Fairly tame birds, we must be on their migration route.
How many goodly creature are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.
– William Shakespeare (“The Tempest”)
I am too old to vote
for the least offensive—
too old to believe
philosophies that fan
the flames of fear
to obtain heaven
early on this earth.
I have seen enough
bigotry and greed
squirming beneath the raiment
that need evil foes to exist,
when war is peace.
All the good in this world
is not for sale, cannot be carved
from the heart of humanity,
or extinguished by authority—
it casts no vote but to survive
our nasty campaigns and elections.
Posted in Poems 2016
Age and source verification:
August 31, 2016. Bull calf.
Cow tag: 1104. Sire: Mrnak 119.