Monthly Archives: March 2017




Thatched and lashed with horsehair
thread, even well-built nests
have casualties, tip in a storm,

spill family overboard, and we
remain to make repairs – find reason,
where so often there is none.

If we have love, we have no choice
but to fall with them, over and over
into the void – and we do it,

not to savor grief, but to collect
what parts we can, to piece our nest
back-together again.

                                            – for Alie and Jeff




Rocked by tragedy, we repost this poem for our community. Originally dedicated to Jeff and Alie McKee in December 2010.





Close to heaven’s cloud
cattle graze untouched ridgetops
undisturbed at peace.





Without a script
I am an extra in this movie,
a face on a crowded street
in some big city—
or feathered Indian that dies
circling a wagon train West.

                    I drop my rifle,
                    grab my bare chest,
                    lean back and slide
                    down a paint horse hip,
                    tuck my shoulder
                    and roll to a dusty stop—

an expendable example
on the trail to progress.
I used to get by on less,
but I need the money,
so I play the part:

                    grimaces of futility,
                    but in my eyes:
                    open space
                    prior to
                    its improvement.


Blue Oak Casualties



Oftentimes during a year of stress, some Blue Oaks shut down, loose their leaves, only to come back to life the following season. But our 4-year drought was too much and too long for whole slopes of oaks, despite above-average rainfall this season. Now, as the survivors begin to leaf-out, the casualties are fairly easy to distinguish. Most, it seems, are below 2,000 feet in elevation on north to west-facing hillsides. As these trees have been here all my life, I’m guessing they are over 100 years old, but most have probably been here less than 200 years. Usually at the top of these slopes is an older tree, or remnants of an older tree, a grandfather oak that provided the acorns.

(Facebook viewers can enlarge the photo by linking to the blog)


Tom Turkeys






Water slips along granite
slabs beneath clay, leaks up
at the outcrops, pressed

from mountains of moisture
to find a creek, escapes
into road cuts, makes bogs

of good ideas and waits
beneath a thin crust
for a little respect.





Almost underfoot,
you work the ground
for bugs and spiders,
diligently clean window
screens in morning light—
yet play second fiddle
to your canyon cousin’s
higher-up, closer to
the conifers and pines where
sticky-sweet bear clover
plunders my senses.





                     there’s a bluebird in my heart that
                     wants to get out

                         – Charles Bukowski (“Bluebird”)

Leapfrogging fence posts
along a pasture road
just ahead of me

is commonplace, just
out of reach—a game
passing for fun—

and I am blessed
by the flitting iridescence
of another spring.

Closer now,
a pair is nesting
just out of reach.





Early morning dew,
a long leafless shadow falls
between young girls grazing,
sprinkled black on green
dreams, a young man’s heaven
that still works a world away
from almost everything.





Prodigal parents
away with rain, we become
heaven’s disruptions.