Author Archives: John

WEATHER REPORT

 

 

Up early, awaiting
confirmation of the storm
slated to rain out plans
to brand calves
without complaining,

                    feeding hay
                    on slick roads
                    to thin cows
                    as grass grows
                    against the cold
                    Winter Solstice.

Nothing on the news
but red and blue politics,
mass shootings
and fog on 99,
ads for fast foods,
wonder drugs
and old age—
not one damn thing
I want. Nothing

                    I can change
                    but feed more hay
                    to hungry souls.

 

WEST 32nd STREET

 

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I lived in town for a moment,
a neighborhood around the Shrine—
                    Black on one side,
                    college kids, the other
in a subdivided,
old two-story
peeling paint
we called Big Pink.

Weekend mecca for loud
electric sounds, Janis
and the Revolution wailing—
the street would teem
with strobe-lit kids,
weed wafting sidewalk trees,
trying to ignore the War,
Kent State and the M-16
awaiting graduation.

Landmarks close,
I had no plans to map—
yet found myself asleep
retracing trails
to High Sierra meadows,
                    bell mare edging
                    a snowmelt lake,
                    pine smoke and
a leaky bucket sky at night.

 

‘TIS THE SEASON

 

 

                       There’s a dragon with matches that’s loose on the town
                       Takes a whole pail of water just to cool him down.

                                 – Grateful Dead (“Fire on the Mountain”)

After rain,
willows aflame,
green on black:

photographs
of germinating
truth taking root

after fire—after
the smoke clears
and dust disappears

with seasons changing—
we begin again
with grass.

 

JUST ADD WATER

 

 

Nine out of twelve days rain—
ground first to turn green
where an errant spark
blackened hillsides
three months back.

If only most of man’s mistakes
could be as easily erased
by just adding water
to all the bad actors
and their political stage plays.

 

Four Little Pigs

 

 

Robbin caught these little fellas with her cellphone while we were putting the bulls out on Tuesday between rains.

 

INTO BLACK NIGHT

 

 

There are no dreams like this:
old man learning to go slow
without coming to a stop—

                    hand let run the smooth flesh
                    of a time and weather-worn
                    corral-board table top, sanded
                    and shellacked, splinters sealed
                    beneath to become functional.

                    Scars and crooked fingers trace
                    the deep grain without calloused
                    insulation, a new sensation saved
                    for thin skin that bruises easily.

There are no dreams like this
for whip and spur youth, wide loops
and inflated heroics—yahoo mugs
raised to the wild, to the heavens
howling late into black night
when once I was among them.

 

THE ROCK

 

 

The truth is at your feet,
the wet or dry of dirt
beyond concrete and asphalt—
the rock’s slow erosion,
the past that holds you up
and feeds your flesh
before it owns you
with all the tiny worlds
busy sustaining themselves
and one another.

Words skirt around the facts
and eventually evaporate
into a meaningless vapor
we exhale, distilled slogans
casually consumed
as shortcuts to nirvana—
the rhymed and tuned
hackneyed mantras
with which we work
beneath our breath.

Look to the ridgeline
that cuts the sky
that holds the storms
we can’t deny—
to the heavens
where gods and goddesses
decide what’s best—
no better place
to rest your mind
with open eyes.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Over an inch of rain, fire in the wood stove, soup on the stove, calves on the ground, family and friends, we have much to be thankful for.

 

HONEST TRACKS

 

 

Bearfoot in the dust
from oak to oak gathering
acorns like candy.

 

SONGWRITER

 

 

                           It was always so easy to find an unhappy woman
                           Till I started looking for mine.

                                  – Moe Bandy (“It was Always So Easy”)

Young buck with broken horn
on the scent of an acorn-fat doe
and her two blue yearlings
slipped from the bunch
while the boss was busy—

the urgency and wild design
of “cheatin’ songs” plays before me,
lyrics shuffled and embellished
to fit the dim barroom lights
of my imagination

steals my senses away
from the most recent
political intrigue searching
for music—for a tune that might
sell millions on the truth.