Category Archives: Photographs




Riding the High Country as a boy,
I fished snowmelt lakes
beneath sharp peaks of scree,

found clarity around a fire,
played dot-to-dot with stars,
and dreamed on hard ground

that I’d awake unscathed,
but for my craving for space
beyond the hand of man.

A lifetime addiction,
betting on the weather
and a herd of cows grazing

foothills below, we wager
borrowed money, but don’t know
how to quit gambling

with the market and the politics
this close to heaven—we’ll
role the dice until we’re gone.





Hunting in the rain,
the hawk is back
hungry for quail

tittering in the bottom
of the brush pile,
casualties and prunings

I would have burned
but for last year’s lake
of constant rain.

Summer outpost
for ground squirrels
that robbed the garden,

a lair for thieves
packing peaches, pears,
apples off

to feast in peace—
battle lost,
the spoils of war

we’ll never win, but wage
with fire when the grass
turns green again.





In our three score and ten,
we haven’t changed the world much—
though we marched for peace,

married and twice divorced
during continuous conflicts overseas,
over who knows what

philosophy it paid to exterminate. Now
it turns too fast for us and we retreat
like old bucks before the hunt.

                                             for JEG





Young ladies bathing beyond the cattails—
it could be the Nile or the Kaweah
pooling slowly in the summer heat

before the dams, before man began
to turn the earth around. We can’t
ignore the pesky fly in the ointment.





Beyond cell phone tethers
to the urgencies below,
we float beneath the clouds

with cattle in patched pens,
with the skeletons of oaks
stealing one last look

at old ways remembering
Effie Hilliard’s white horse
leading cows and calves,

her coywolves trailing,
through the gate to be
branded in these corrals.

A world above
she rode alone to leave
her ghost at peace.





O’ humanity hidden
within the moldy leaves
we’ve swept in piles

waiting to be burned
or bagged for clean yards
this time of year—

we have forgotten
our shame, we have forgotten
how to be human.

There are no secrets
among the tribe of trees,
no judgment either—

they are cursed to return
in spring, cursed to care
again with the possibility

of peace among men,
yet all they have to offer
but leaky shade and shelter

is persistence, the outside
chance we may finally learn
to love ourselves.





Panels on boards,
gates bent preceding us
to plug the holes in corrals

to brand calves—we may
never live long enough
to repair all the past bravado:

the wild and woolly urgencies
intensified to explode into
crashing crescendos. Instead

we move to a slow routine
sorting cows from calves
who endure the process

               knowing soon
               it will all be over
               and back to grass.





One of these days
I’ll return as a dog
to an impatient man
like me, my just reward.

Cowdog, instead of poodle,
if I get to choose—
no inside gig,
no sidewalks,
I have my standards.
Days of adventure
with a partner
like me to help
defy the odds,
the ins and bys,
the runaways
with a grin.

Outside the corral,
I’ll know my place,
let the action be
my live entertainment.





                                        ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                                        Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’

                                             – John Keats (“Ode to a Grecian Urn”)

Art depends on the eye,
wild shapes dancing or
frozen on an eagle’s crag

waiting to fall
engulfed within
the petals of a rose.

Nothing stays the same.
The certain truths evolve
with angles of light,

and even in death,
the skeletons of oaks
shedding bark and limbs,

casually undressing
proclaim honesty,
beauty to us all.


                                        after yesterday’s post by fellow blogger Evelyne Holingue


Paregien Branding



We did brand at the Paregien yesterday with the fine help of good neighbors and friends. Despite the lack of rain so far this grass season, the cows and calves are doing well at this higher elevation. The ample old feed from last year has protected the new green that has surprising strength, everyone glad to have these calves marked before they grew any bigger. A big THANK YOU to the crew from Robbin and I.