Monthly Archives: January 2020




                                                            every valve
                                                            leaks a little
                                                            there is no

                                                            stopping the flow.
                                                            – Gary Snyder (“Fixing the System”)

I worried once
about wasting water,

                              steady drip

at the trough,
at the hose bib,
at the gate valve

                              green year-round

gathering tree frogs,
snakes and cottontails.


Raining crystal drops
rising with Greenheads
from the tailwater
of the irrigated pasture

               on a Sabbath
               with my father
               instead of church:

he spoke into the clouds.


               With the gravity
               that holds us close
               to this earth,

                              always a little
                              leaks by
                              to remind us.






                     The old granite stones, those are my people;
                     Hard heads and stiff wits but faithful, not fools, not chatterers;
                     And the place where they stand today they will stand also                            tomorrow.

                                 – Robinson Jeffers (“The Old Stonemason”)

Some like headstones thrust into the earth,
or weather-carved phallic outposts
natives knew by name, those are my people,
my landmarks nodding now as I pass.

They have grown cold and taken shape
from the fires of molten violence—
cracked and fractured piles, wisdom
scattered in the grip of gravity at rest

to hum as homes for rodents and reptiles,
a tunneled settling of colonies to feed
a wilder world. Some pulse with life,
dress with thick green moss, after rain.

But those tattooed with colored lichen
first draw the eye to unravel art,
question what they seem to say—
all good listeners, patient to a fault.





I once dreamed I might have been
a mountain man in another life,
trapped cats and coyotes

instead of beaver—
learned to view the world
through untamed eyes

assessing sign as I became
the prize and placed my twigs
and scents accordingly.

               I sifted dirt
               to hide the jaws
               while writing poetry:

bird-wing fluttering
from a fishing filament
still fascinates me.


Jackets-on, Jackets-off, Branding in Greasy



It did not rain a drop despite the forecasts, our neighbors on board to brand some calves, cattle gathered thirty minutes up the hill under blue skies with light, white clouds wanting to turn gray. The sun came out early and the corrals that Earl McKee had begun to renovate over a decade ago were dressed in layers of coats and jackets. However, more than once the sky turned dark with cold wind gusts that kept us hustling.



Always good help and a joy to have Corrine (Ainely) Manes in the branding pen as son Heston keeps himself entertained outside the corral.



Audrey Maze is headed to the “Art of the Cowgirl” to heel behind Shelly Pascoe and JPS Six Guns, Lot 12 for sale, a solid gelding owned by our neighbor Jody Fuller.



We look forward to Brent Huntington’s help and sense of humor in the corral, especially when he brings Sid to help work the ground.



Shane Doering has been great help this year in the branding pens of all our neighbors. Here, he’s working with Collette Taylor’s young roan horse.

A fantastic day, do I dare say fun, with pulled pork sandwiches prepared by Maggie Loverin waiting for us back down the hill. Thank you all!


Somewhere the Sun



On the edge of fog, we’ve been gathering Greasy to brand Thursday, while the forecast for rain varies from from a few hundredths to a quarter-inch from a half-dozen Internet weather sites. Above the fog, we shed all the jackets it took to get there, a true inversion layer. Time to fish or cut bait.





Five Western Bluebirds
at the local water hole
after the fog lifts.





                              nothing left but a river flowing on the borders of heaven
                                             – Li Po (“On Yellow-Crane Tower, Farewell to
                                                  Meng Hao-jan Who’s Leaving for Yang-chou”)

A Chinese boat-float
like a leaf among starlit mists
would sell like hotcakes
for those with time and self-respect
an ascension yet from the page,
                    from discord and dissension,
and damn-near free.





There is a hidden pack of cigarettes
                    after the patches, gum
                    and incessant vaping,

                    the midnight bellyache
                    and rattly ambulance ride
                    to a chair in Emergency

                    visited by young, head-scratching
                    teams practicing medicine
                    by consensus

                                        find nothing wrong
                                        and send me home—

                    and the second ride
                    two days later
                    across the parking lot
                    from the Doctor’s office.

There is a hidden pack of cigarettes
                    after Sepsis
                    and the gut-wrenching antibiotics
                    and mind-bending pain

                    I build loops in my sleep
                    and shoot bighorn sheep
                    from my hospital bed.

There is a hidden pack of cigarettes
                    six months later
                    after the surgeon tells me
                    what I cannot eat

                    or drink—after we agree
                    to wait a little longer.


Brandon Branding



As of one of two old men among some good young cowboys at Tony Rabb’s branding yesterday, the importance of bringing young men along was self-evident. Schooled at home before the branding pen, a young man must ride, rope, roll a calf, dally, slide slack and stay out of trouble. This was Brandon Huntington’s first branding on New Year’s Day and he managed to do it all!


2020 Branding



A beautiful day to start the New Year. No parades. No football games. We spent the day with our community of neighbors and friends branding calves on Dry Creek.