leaks a little
there is no
stopping the flow.
– Gary Snyder (“Fixing the System”)
I worried once
about wasting water,
at the trough,
at the hose bib,
at the gate valve
gathering tree frogs,
snakes and cottontails.
Raining crystal drops
rising with Greenheads
from the tailwater
of the irrigated pasture
on a Sabbath
with my father
instead of church:
he spoke into the clouds.
With the gravity
that holds us close
to this earth,
always a little
to remind us.
The old granite stones, those are my people;
Hard heads and stiff wits but faithful, not fools, not chatterers;
And the place where they stand today they will stand also tomorrow.
– Robinson Jeffers (“The Old Stonemason”)
Some like headstones thrust into the earth,
or weather-carved phallic outposts
natives knew by name, those are my people,
my landmarks nodding now as I pass.
They have grown cold and taken shape
from the fires of molten violence—
cracked and fractured piles, wisdom
scattered in the grip of gravity at rest
to hum as homes for rodents and reptiles,
a tunneled settling of colonies to feed
a wilder world. Some pulse with life,
dress with thick green moss, after rain.
But those tattooed with colored lichen
first draw the eye to unravel art,
question what they seem to say—
all good listeners, patient to a fault.
I once dreamed I might have been
a mountain man in another life,
trapped cats and coyotes
instead of beaver—
learned to view the world
through untamed eyes
assessing sign as I became
the prize and placed my twigs
and scents accordingly.
I sifted dirt
to hide the jaws
while writing poetry:
from a fishing filament
still fascinates me.
It did not rain a drop despite the forecasts, our neighbors on board to brand some calves, cattle gathered thirty minutes up the hill under blue skies with light, white clouds wanting to turn gray. The sun came out early and the corrals that Earl McKee had begun to renovate over a decade ago were dressed in layers of coats and jackets. However, more than once the sky turned dark with cold wind gusts that kept us hustling.
Always good help and a joy to have Corrine (Ainely) Manes in the branding pen as son Heston keeps himself entertained outside the corral.
Audrey Maze is headed to the “Art of the Cowgirl” to heel behind Shelly Pascoe and JPS Six Guns, Lot 12 for sale, a solid gelding owned by our neighbor Jody Fuller.
We look forward to Brent Huntington’s help and sense of humor in the corral, especially when he brings Sid to help work the ground.
Shane Doering has been great help this year in the branding pens of all our neighbors. Here, he’s working with Collette Taylor’s young roan horse.
A fantastic day, do I dare say fun, with pulled pork sandwiches prepared by Maggie Loverin waiting for us back down the hill. Thank you all!
On the edge of fog, we’ve been gathering Greasy to brand Thursday, while the forecast for rain varies from from a few hundredths to a quarter-inch from a half-dozen Internet weather sites. Above the fog, we shed all the jackets it took to get there, a true inversion layer. Time to fish or cut bait.
As of one of two old men among some good young cowboys at Tony Rabb’s branding yesterday, the importance of bringing young men along was self-evident. Schooled at home before the branding pen, a young man must ride, rope, roll a calf, dally, slide slack and stay out of trouble. This was Brandon Huntington’s first branding on New Year’s Day and he managed to do it all!
A beautiful day to start the New Year. No parades. No football games. We spent the day with our community of neighbors and friends branding calves on Dry Creek.
Courtesy: The Summit Post
If ever there was a table set
on the John Muir Trail,
it was picked clean
by Steller Jays
in the midden around
a black circle of stones.
The trail is wide
through Rae Lakes
beneath Fin Dome—
slick leather soles
on the Serpent’s back—
my name is in the box
above the fractured chimney
where I held a tourist
pregnant from falling.
Saved two risking one.
I leave again without the work,
without the pack stock,
without the traffic on the trail
whenever I want
to cast clear water
to green submarines
cruising a hidden lake
that I suspect
the world has found
and picked clean.
for Tim Loverin
(Click to enlarge Table of Contents)
RECKONING is printed in a limited edition of 74 copies
plus 26 lettered copies signed by the author.
Dec. 31, 2019: The last remaining lettered copy (“C”) has been donated to the Silent Auction at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 27 – February 1, 2020.
cash or check to:
Dry Crik Press
P.O. Box 44320
Lemon Cove, CA 93244
Despite local forecasts for rain, we made the trek up the hill with our neighbors to brand our first bunch of calves for the season. Over the years here, we’ve dealt with fog, rain and snow, but yesterday the sun broke through the gray to complete a beautiful day.
Additional hazards are these two Blue Oaks that Effie Hilliard incorporated when she built these corrals many decades ago, one of which is now a casualty of our 4-year drought. Though we’ve threatened to remove them, consensus has been that they remain.
Though we see one another individually throughout the year, the first branding of the year is always a special get-together for all of us.
One of the benefits of trading labor is that everyone knows how we want the job done, whether a horseback or on the ground. You just can’t hire any better help than our neighbors.
And one of the drawbacks, as we age, is that some of us have now outlived our horses. Finding a replacement gentle and trustworthy enough for old men is not easy, but Tony Rabb brought a young buckskin mare to the branding pen for the first time with impressive success. Robbin and I thank everyone for helping us get the job done.