Not far from Wuknaw,
where Bird and Animal people
molded man from this clay ground,

the landscape’s changed: pipe
pens and power lines, first Angus cows
driven weeks from Mexico—

it seems I’ve been here always,
neighbors helping neighbors
brand calves, become friends.

It’s a slow dance horseback
sorting drys from wet mothers
and their calves, few words

spoken, mostly looks and space
at the gate—all the stuff
you could never tell a younger man.

* * * *


Yesterday, Robbin and I helped Tony Rabb brand his calves on the Perkins. So simple and brilliant to maintain the name of a previous owner for a place or a ranch to preserve our common ground and history, more normal than not around here. The Perkins family descended from T. H. Davis who drove forty Angus cows from Mexico to Woodlake in 1853. So much has changed. Forty-five years ago I helped Tom and Gary Davis ship 3 year-old, 1,200 pound Angus steers off this ranch.

First time horseback since knee surgery went well, but a little rusty roping. This is Robbin’s striking iPhone photo before we got started.



  1. Glad you’re back aboard after knee surgery, John. I’m going in for hip replacement on Jan. 3. How fortunate we are that modern medicine can help us to stay useful longer. We’re gettin’ old, but we’re still gettin’. Thank you and Robbin for another year of sharing the life and beauty and poetry and philosophy that thrive on Dry Creek. May they sustain you for many more years to come. Wishing you all the best in 2018, and many good rains through April.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Another branding up the road yesterday, no pain this a.m. A beautiful day as horse, rider and rope all worked together. I’m very pleased and thankful for the surgery, truly a miracle. Good luck with yours. Let’s have a Happy New Year!


  2. This old cowboy just wants to THANK YOU for another year’s enjoyment from DryCreek. I’ve enjoyed it all. Have another great and safe year. Take care, All.


    • THANK YOU, Skip, for following along. In the bubble of the branding pen, most of the trouble of the world goes on without us. We are truly blessed. Have a wonderful New Year!


  3. I have enjoyed your poetry this year—it takes me to a place very different from my swampy South. Hope your new year continues to unfold wonderfully.


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