Category Archives: Photographs

A NEIGHBOR’S HAND

It’s not easy to get glimpses of myself

among the young men in the branding pen,

awkward young bulls bellowing

as they wrestle fat calves to the ground.

 

Yesterday, I carried the nut-bucket

and dope instead of riding with a rope,

instead of sliding a wide loop

beneath two feet. I can feel it, see it

 

in my mind, the smooth dance and dally

round a cotton-wrapped horn, rolling

calves and slipping slack when needed—

but my metronome has slowed.

 

I don’t wish to be among the old chiefs

who stayed too long to become obstacles

in space and time just to be aboard,

just to lend a neighbor’s hand, like always.

AFTER LEONARD DURSO’S “on reading Su Tung-p’o”

April 13, 2020

                                      Never arriving, what can we understand,

                                      and always leaving, what’s left to explain?

                                                  – Su Tung-p’o  (“After T’ao Ch’ien’s ‘Drinking Wine’”)

 

Leaving only the moment, I remain in this canyon’s swirl

of loose pieces, histories before me beckon memories

and how it’s changed in my lifetime to survive the storms

of wet and dry that forsake young skeletons of hillside families

to stand among the forgotten limbs at their feet.

 

I hold this landscape’s perfect smile of emerald green

in dreams, waiting for a glimpse of her velvet face,

wild skiffs of colored flowers entwined in her hair,

amid the planet’s storms for power, day and night—

always faulty propositions for the masses.

 

As I draw closer, leaving an uphill trail of time behind,

this place I have circumnavigated since I was a child

owns me—now that its desires have become mine.

My eyes ride the ridgelines at the edges of heaven

where I will rest easily when I finally arrive.

AT SUNSET AFTER CHRISTMAS RAINS

Last flash of limbs

in a pagan dance

as shadows crawl

across the creek

to pull night’s curtain up

into the stars.

 

The canyon has come to life

with promises of spring—

birds and trees are talking

above the bulls’ primal bellowing—

tension spills with energy.

 

Shrill yips and howls

in every draw ignites

another all-night

canine celebration

to exasperate the dogs.

 

Even the old flesh perks up

with fresh strategies,

just in case the market’s up

and we get more rain—

just enough to do it over again.

THE GOOD SIGNS

There were no wild turkeys here

when we were boys—no Great Egrets either

mimicking Blue Herons

statuesque in the pasture

waiting for the earth to move

a varmint cleaning house after rain.

 

Scattered atop the ridges,

we haven’t seen the cows and calves

in weeks, the young bulls longer

through December rains.

They don’t need us now,

they don’t need hay.

 

Lifeline of the canyon, the creek

arrived on Christmas Eve

running muddy, coloring the river

with streaks of chocolate

under the new bridge

it took years to finish.

 

And when the Tule fog

leaps and claws up canyon

like a lion to wrap us in a gray

cocoon that shuts the world away,

there’s nothing to do but wait

until the sun burns it off.

CHRISTMAS GIFTS

Long dark shadows in the canyons,

cattle hard to see.  They don’t need us now,

heads down somewhere on the mountain,

 

ground too wet to help them anyway—

all the excuses I need to write poetry.

We fed hay all last year, filled the barn

 

three times waiting for a rain. These Christmas

storms: miracles to rejuvenate the earth

for man and beast, birds and insects,

 

steep hillsides begging to explode in leafy

salad greens—iridescent gifts in the sunlight,

like the old days, for years in a row that

 

have since gone dry and farther in between.

Nothing stays the same, just ask the skeletons

of old oaks where the natives ground acorns.

THE HUNT

 

The coveys that patrol the yard

and feed the hawks and bobcats,

multiply, divide and die mysteriously

 

to be reborn again as families of quail—

watchful pop in front of a string babies,

mom riding drag and tittering ahead.

 

Great entertainment over the years,

we should shoot a few to split them up

to improve inbred genetics, but

 

who wants to, like dispatching pets?

When I was a boy, I’d hike miles

with my four-ten single-shot,

 

trail a few to November rockpiles,

smooth granite dressed in green

velvet moss, while the majority

 

slipped off.  Atop the rocks, I’d stomp

‘til they flew in a whir and blur

 in all directions. One at a time,

 

stuffed with slices of apple and onion

baked and seasoned to a burnished brown,

I told my stories of the hunt.

SUNRISE

                                    The philosopher said, “The miracle

                                    is that the world exists.” We bathe

                                    in the beauty at dawn.

                                                – Jim Harrison (“Ghosts”)

 

She parts her black robe slowly,

unevenly until the long thin line

of her supine thigh grows

before a golden ribbon of light

along the Animas Mountains

as the snoring bunkhouse roars

asleep on the Gray Ranch.

 

I am a stranger to New Mexico,

but not Drum’s borderland songs

or the swallows glinting at first light

before me.  A man can lose himself

within the darting ricochets of birds

that distract him from his fears.

 

Here too, she sleeps in silence

as the moon rises from her breast

in the shadow of the Sierras,

but when day breaks over the peaks,

an explosion of blinding light

can cleanse me instantly.

FANTASY

Last night’s rain left a glistening

on the leaves of limbs at dawn,

 

beads upon the redwood silver

twinkling like a Christmas tree.

 

White icing shines upcanyon,

dark chocolate in the creek flow,

 

first light ignites the sycamores

and cottonwoods to flames,

 

aged sorrel geldings buck and slide

in mud like fresh colts finding legs.

 

Last night’s rain left me dreaming

beyond this canyon—all a fantasy.

THE GIFT OF RAIN

Heaven sent

to stir the earth

back to life—

 

may a thirst for love

be reborn again

this Christmas Day.

Winter Solstice – Wagyu X Branding

Though no one dares complain about the rain, we’ve been working towards a branding between storms as the corrals dry out.  Yesterday began cold and foggy as the sun broke through occasionally.

With an exceptional crew of neighbors, it was fun and relaxed for our first branding of the year, a good opportunity for Allie (Fry) Fox to sharpen her skills.  She’s been part of this ranch since she was a baby.

 

It’s always a pleasure having Douglas Thomason in the pen bringing his quiet and calm expertise to the party.  Bodie, his young son below, looks ready to follow in his footsteps.

What a great day!  Robbin and I are thrilled. Thank you all!  With wild and varied predictions of rain (Atmospheric River) through New Years beginning this evening, we’re ready to enjoy the holidays.