Monthly Archives: February 2019




The stage is set with
few days between rains
in years between droughts—

green hills hang fire,
begin to breathe
before they flower.

Knee-deep white egrets
comb blades of grass,
step lightly slowly

as tree frogs gather
to rehearse
an all-night chorus.


Old Packers



In his Model A, Bill DeCarteret stopped by our branding yesterday along Dry Creek Road. His visit with Tim Loverin, owner/operator of the Cedar Grove Pack Station, and me was much too short. We’ll do it again soon.





Last two hundred years,
six days afire—forgotten
ash and sediment.





Purple clouds up canyon,
an armada approaching
white skies at dawn…

battleships burning pink,
fleet afire and fading
into a bluer sea.





                                                                                                           The gods
                                               abhor halters and stirrups, even a horse
                                               blanket to protect our asses is forbidden.

                                                                   – Jim Harrison (“Poet No. 7”)

Handful of mane, wrap
of hair gripped and entwined,
I plowed the pine duff on the Kern
with my chin loping back to the picket line,
bell mare clenched between my legs
when she shied.

                    A pigeon-toed bay,
                    my legs and heart
                    grew into.

A plucky kid
leading mules and people

                    over granite scree
                    to snowmelt meadows
                    framing heaven’s
                    blue-cloud reflection

I could have died
half-dozen times
were I not so close
to the hands of gods
and goddesses

that may have placed
a rattler in the corner of her eye
for entertainment.

                                                  for Bill DeCarteret

“Mountains, Mules and Memories”





Burning twin Valley Oaks
gone dead in the drought,
undermined by the creek—

four-foot trunks
of smoking coals
two or three centuries old

stirred with the skid steer
three times a day

have left a hole
in my tangled world
across the creek

I cannot replace:
timelessness trapped
in mottled shadows

embracing me
each time I passed
beneath them.



* Really “DAY THREE”, (today is Saturday, not Sunday). Excused from Jury Duty, I lit the fire Thursday morning after Erik Avila pulled the trees out of the creek with an excavator for Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District on Wednesday.

The ranchy part of this common confusion for us is that we’re busy, we work at something everyday, doing pretty much what we want—no “hump days” with weekdays and weekends pretty much the same, we tend to lose track of what the name of today is. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.





Facebook loading chutes,
peckerwood and pipe
from another time:

bob-tail horse trucks
tilting steep and slick

that haven’t changed
when it rains
familiar profanities

from unclear skies.
I have outlived
their usefulness.


Up Canyon



More low snow on Dry Creek last night, 0.27” of rain from a fast moving storm that has slowed or closed traffic on the Grapevine and Tehachapi this morning. Our hills have been too slick to gather with horses, so we’ve gone afoot the past two days so that we can brand next week.


What happens when you put cowboys in a room to talk politics?



The Guardian





TV insanity,
old men posturing
Twitter and Facebook—
I expect the world
to make sense
like Shakespeare’s last act,
                    not of an age
                    but for all time.

My metaphors are wild
company, retreats
I might better know
in deep seclusion,
tracks to follow
and fill with form
to stand as proof
before me.

Like Slick Sweeney
packing a broomstick
to shoot his buck—
left horns and guts
intact, hide and flesh
looking back
to leap clean away
when he said bang.