Author Archives: John

NOT DISSUADED

 

Currently the quail have the evening stage as Mother Nature usurps the garden and moves closer to the house as if we put the props in place for their entertainment. The quail have had an extraordinary hatch this year, hundreds of birds in dozens of coveys of various ages explore the yard in waves of gray.

Still housebound but rehabbing well, my photography is limited to what’s before me with the point-and-shoot, isolated snapshots that don’t fully portray the larger theme of the show. Accompanied and herded by attentive adults acting as sentinels, the young birds feed across the lawn to eventually let curiosity lead them a stray. One, then another follows, until half the young covey considers the latest discovery. Not one bird tried to drink from our ‘sip and dip’, knowing the water level too far to reach without falling, without flailing wet feathers and drowning.

 

 

Our yard: a classroom
for rural children come
out of granite rockpiles

and deadfall limbs woven
with blond, brittle grasses—
like a field trip to town,

a damp green and water
oasis they should know
when its 110 degrees.

Our yard: a classroom
for survival as Mother Nature
picks apples, apricots, peaches

and pears before they’re ripe,
before they’re sweet.
The ground squirrels know

our habits, when it’s best
to harvest, the sound of
footsteps on the gravel,

and the gunshot taken
for the team
we’ve not dissuaded.

 

CHARMED

 

 

Tail like a wagging semaphore
upon a rock, high-pitched chirps
penetrate my idle thoughts beyond

the flea-bitten ground squirrel
eyes trying to focus, mesmerized
by the slightest movement

of the approaching snake.
Not too old to remember,
I do not have to watch to know

what goes on in the world. We
either escape or make peace
with the snake over breakfast.

 

SUMMER

 

 

Fractured granite baked in clay,
drought-bare slopes now soft with grass
in waves of sun-bleached blond

await the eventide of shrinking light
as shadows climb, retreat into the black
of night as we raise a glass of wine

to gods returned and sigh—knowing
nothing will ever be the same again
in our minds, or how we pray for more

holidays of rain than we need
in this canyon envelope of heat
we graze from shade to shade.

 

ANOTHER DAY

 

 

Dawn waits beyond the black
robe that cloaks the undulating
ridgeline before we spin

into sunrise, most everyday
without clouds or rain
that we hope for, that we forgive

in our routines plodding toward
little change. Horses wait
for the screen door’s slap,

dogs rush to clear
the well-worn path,
quail scatter to start the day—

small details wait to be seen,
hide in the shrinking shadows
of unwritten scripts.

 

THE GODS

 

 

I’ve got no complaints,
but with all the details
the gods must attend to,

it’s not surprising that
some get overlooked.
Too good to be true,

the gods may be lazing
in a Max Parrish painting,
our fate more accident

than meant, but
still good to think
they’re paying attention.

 

So Far, So Good

 

 

Last Friday, I underwent knee replacement surgery. I was able to walk with a walker by Saturday. Rehabilitation will undoubtedly be slow and posts to the blog may be less frequent.

 

Watercolor

 

 

SUNFLOWERS

 

 

In the fenced and ungrazed barn lot
where water rests before it rises
when it rains to find the culvert,

a thatch of summer flowers tall
all face the dawn—a photograph
to match with Calflora—

I’ve learned the names
of most wild and local flowers
that have survived our occupation.

Fifth generation in the same place,
I don’t care that these are non-native,
these immigrants established

year after year, flashing color
‘midst the bland and blond dry grasses
as they chase the sun down.

 

HEREFORD EYES

 

 

On the edge of irrigated green
grazing toward morning shade,
she’s on vacation, calf gone

as another stirs in her belly
to fulfill the appetites of a reckless
race she’ll never know.

Behind the barbed wire, safe
beyond the thistles, she’s content
to gossip days with girlfriends,

to contemplate a moment
for undisturbed hours—perfecting
poetry within her heavy skull.

 

METAMORPHOSIS

 

 

Bullfrog pollywogs
leap to gasp warm July air
prior to croaking.