Monthly Archives: April 2019

WIND IN MY HAND

 

 

Awaiting words on the wind,
sharpened pencil and
yellow, short-lined pad—

the first leaf lifts
as I sneak a look
at the next page

searching for poetry
that feels good
in my hand.

 

INHALING HORSES

 

 

As the early-morning Pink Moon
wanes in the blue
west of sunrise after Easter

soothes my Monday mind
with the habits of horses
waiting at their mangers—

alfalfa stems in windrows
at their feet, rolled and picked
clean of leaf before the sweeter

beckoning of short-cropped green
going to seed, I pause
to inhale their earthy smell.

 

REFLECTION

 

 

Some ‘last times’ are chiseled
in the maze of our minds:
of the dear departed
or the dreadful lessons,
lest we forget.

But no framed portrait of your face
hanging near my heart, only
half-a-century’s hazy conjuring
of vital growing pains
I still owe you for.

                           for Susie

 

IN THE GRANITE

 

 

Killdeer have their hands full
with children born on the run
teaching intonations of language

while training safe habits—
four bird brains headed
in different directions

after an intense defense
of speckled granite clutches
for four long weeks

from nest-robbing crows
and snakes fresh from hibernation
with wants of their own.

In the crushed gravel drive
their feigned broken wings
flash grit and passion.

 

BULLS, BUGS AND BEES

 

 

New leaves, new shade
as flowers fade to seed
               the future

                              shiny-hided heifers
                              with babies in their bellies
                              claim the oak trees,
                              gossip and commiserate
                              about the unknown

               after sex
with bulls, bugs and bees.

 

SUNSET RAINBOW

 

 

The landmark peak connecting
watersheds and neighbors here
and gone blazes with a rainbow

at sunset illuminating faces and stories
gathered to replay in places
to leave no track but in my thoughts—

my short history on this ground,
the tragic and the magic banked
at the center of my small universe.

 

IDES OF APRIL

 

 

Wild colors fade, the grass turns
in the sand and shallow ground
on south slopes as Killdeer defend

their gravel nests and Blackbirds
scout the sky like fighter pilots
patrolling air space—an urgency

to plant seed and protect babies
before spring’s dreaded deadline—
before it gets too late to rain.

 

Earl McKee RIP

 

Trudy Johnson Photography

 

 

Robert Frost never built a fence
between a neighbor as fine as mine,
who shared more than his cow sense
on both sides of the line.

He helped a shaggy-headed kid
whose ignorance could fill a book
and kept his impatience mostly hid
‘less I took a second look—

and then he knew, I knew the pain
and like a son, he worked with me
and tell a joke to keep me sane,
so frustrated I couldn’t see.

In time, I’d be working the gate,
he damn-sure had me looking sharp,
working ’round my each mistake—
the cattle easy to part.

Whenever I call, he’ll be there,
saving most of his work for last.
He helped me ship ’em on Easter,
a drought year gone past.

A slick calf could cause discussion,
he’d always argue it was mine.
I debate for his possession,
losing most of the time.

And when he’d weigh out justice,
you’d find his thumb upon the scale,
but on your side of the balance,
your logic to no avail.

So before you go building fences
and stretching brand-new barbed wire,
there’s one gone beyond common senses
and made Bobby Frost a liar.

If you ever find a pattern cut
that’d be suitable for me,
reckon you’d be hard-pressed put
using other than Earl Mckee.

            – John Dofflemyer (Dry Creek Rhymes, 1989)

 

MASTER OF NONE

 

 

Knee-deep in filaree,
fiddleneck,and foxtails
with wild oats coming

on a precipice
where there is no trail
to the bottom

of Lake Kaweah—
posing for a drone,
for a documentary

as a cowman, as a poet.
I’ve poured concrete,
plumbed galvanized pipe

and electrified a pump
this week, and still
have work to do.

 

UNEVEN GROUND

 

 

Beyond the snowline,
roofless remains of rock houses,
high desert sage, pastel willows

and old cottonwoods
that surround Olancha—
fifty miles due east of green,

five hours by car,
five days a foot,
no short cuts.