Author Archives: John

RECKONING

 

 

I would have flown had I known where
the rainbow ended, slogging knee-deep
down a vineyard row before kindergarten—
I believed everything my father said.

Pulling sound and intension from empty
pages, painting pleasure, an additive curse:
over granite scree to the Kern River canyon,
the roar beyond the beaver ponds reflecting

white clouds on blue islands between sugar
pines quivering from the nose of a rainbow trout
spreads across my flesh, opens a lifetime up
to great escapes that conserved my sanity.

 

WILD LIFE

 

 

Before the heat, Cooper’s Hawks own
the dawning, three flaps and glide
between sycamores and oaks

for squirrel or quail. Two coyote pups
have become the easy road kill
they were hunting before the snakes

and cottontails had to be peeled
from the chip seal. This old road
flows as a river of meals,

an overnight history
of the wild life at night
I missed while I was dreaming.

 

TALLY SHEET

 

 

Keeping track on scraps of paper,
poet friends and cattle
in far-flung pastures

I’ve yet to see, yet to gather—
yet I can smell them near,
inhale their cud-breath

from letters pressed
in chapbooks: songs
of purpose and suggestion.

Numbers don’t matter
this close to the corrals
and its dust-cloud sort:

‘in and bye’
for one more season
or gooseneck trip to town.

 

BON VOYAGE

 

© Terri Blanke

 

We hate it, but we do it well
before the steel gets too hot
to touch, man or beast—

down the lead-up from the tub
to the hydraulic squeeze,
Enforce 3 and Cylence

for the respiratory bugs and flies,
foxtail relief from flaming eyes,
or whatever else might help

before their gooseneck ride to town,
looking blankly out at cars
and houses, we wish them well.

 

Monkeyflower and Centuary

 

 

Due to our wet May, there’s still quite a bit of color in places. Late May, 2010 was the last time I observed any amount of Centuary, (Charming Centuary or the Long-stemmed), after a fairly wet year here. Also this year, a very small yellow monkey flower that I don’t recall seeing before that I have identified as Larger Mountain Monkeyflower or Erythanthe trinitlensis, substantially smaller than the common seep monkeyflower. I marvel at the seed bank that must exist while waiting for the right weather conditions to germinate, reinforcing nature’s ability to survive despite the other troubles on this planet.

 

MOUNTAIN GARLAND

 

 

Amid the empty
heads of wild oats, Clarkia
paints hillsides purple—

long-stemmed families
reseeding new ground, waiting
for late rains in May.

 

Weaning Greasy

 

© Terri Blanke

 

It’s been a long week with early mornings and warm days gathering another bunch of cows and calves in Greasy. We hauled the last of the calves down the hill this morning to the corrals to wean. From the goosenecks, we unload them onto our scales to weigh, then apply fly spray to not only make the process a little more pleasant for the calves, but to reduce the risk of a pink eye.

The calves have done well but the market is weak and weakening with concerns about this year’s corn crop.

 

LAST EMBRACE

 

 

Held in high regard,
we let the dead lean until
we lay down to rest.

 

Weaning

 

 

It was a 104° at 10:00 a.m. after gathering some of our upper country to collect this year’s calves to be weaned, too hot to pursue the remnants we missed. We’ll be leaving in the dark to give it a go tomorrow and hopefully haul some calves off the hill. Forecast 98°.

 

GRANDFATHER OAK

 

 

I’m not sure I noticed
the grand old oak on the ridge
when it was alive with so many

green others before the drought.
Crushed today, it wrapped
its brittle branches around me.