Author Archives: John




Red, white and blue remind
of the friends who went
and never came home,
and those that did
that can’t forget
who they had to be—

of my father
and those before him
who believed
my Country, right or wrong.
How can I not be proud
of them, yet disagree?

I submit my flag
has been stolen from me,
waved to obfuscate debate
and silence truth.
But I submit my flag
as the genius to create

                    a more prefect Union,
                    establish Justice,
                    insure domestic Tranquility,
                    provide for the common Defense,
                    promote the general Welfare,
                    and secure the blessings of Liberty,
                    to ourselves and our Posterity

in the face of future
charlatans and Kings.
I submit my flag
as the backdrop
for partisan stage plays
where heroes become outlaws.

My Country, right or wrong?





Dry cordwood stacked, I crave
unpredictable clouds of change,
the cold and ice, the hail and rain

and the look of snow-capped green,
black cattle grazing an angry gray—
fancy whiskey in a glass with you

inside, woodstove sucking air to flame.
No matter what the pundits say,
it doesn’t change a thing.


Dry Creek



The Dry Creek is up this morning with a 691 cfs flow @ 5:00 a.m. Midway through our 4-day forecast of 2″ of rain, we have received about a half-inch, with another inch promised. For those interested, current atmospheric conditions make forecasting difficult as explained at weather





Dim light above the kitchen table,
wet wedding rings beneath ceramic coffee cups,
shod horses fidget in the aluminum gooseneck
outside before daylight.

“Are Bud and Monte comin’?”
“Nope, just you and me, Babe,” he grins
showing teeth beneath his moustache.

“Any stars?” she asks. “It’s s’posed to rain,
you know, sometime today.”

“A few holes in the clouds is all,”
as he looks up at the ceiling.

“With a little luck
we ought to make it up the hill
before it gets slick,
get the cattle down
and be home by the fire
before it gets too wet.”

After a pause and long swallow, she asks,
“You know what day it is?”

“Thursday, I think”

“Is that all?” she lets trail on her way to the sink.
“Oh, I’ll be goddamned.

Happy Valentine’s Day!”


Ramblin Jack Elliott



One of a kind! By my reckoning, it was over fifty years ago when I first heard Jack at the Ashgrove. Amazing!


Snow on Dry Creek



Light dusting this afternoon down to 2,500′ on Dry Creek. Exceeding the forecast, just shy of an inch of rain overnight and this morning. It’s wet out there.





Hole in the night sky,
one last glimpse
before the eclipse—

red eye behind
a patch of clouds
and a quarter-inch
to drum upon the roof
while we sleep.






Decayed trunk:
ash and smoke.
Limb wood stacked
by noon
awaiting rain—

small deed
to clear a road
for nursery rhymes—
for an old man’s claim
on another day

to warm the flesh again
and again and again.





Too wet to plow,
cold clear sky
before dawn,
green storm
forecast on the screen—

Live Oak down,
waiting patiently
in the road
to become cordwood
close to the woodstove—

to warm flesh again
and again and again.




“Autumn in Olanche” Joseph Mancuso


Racing the storm
camped on Sierra peaks
leaking sparkling snowdrifts
south of Olancha’s stone huts

                    each round rock
                    a poem fit
                    for publication:

                    perfect works
                    without chimney smoke,
                    without window glass,
                    without wooden doors
                    stand open to unfriendly futures

                    marking the trail
                    like ducks
                    towards Tehachapi
                    snow plows
                    loaded with desert sand.

I imagine time
resting here
on its way West.