Category Archives: Photographs

MANKINS FLAT, AHEAD OF THE STORM

 

 

                                        nothing left but a river flowing on the borders of heaven.
                                              – Li Po (“On Yellow-Crane Tower, Farewell to                                                            Meng Hao-jan Who’s Leaving for Yang-chou”)

Branding big calves an hour from the asphalt,
snow-laden Sierras dressed in diaphanous clouds
a stone’s throw across the North Fork canyon

from these corrals too short for modern cows,
we talk about the pressure-treated posts you set
six foot down back when I can’t remember.

Away from the world for years, you are both here
and beyond the Great Western Divide,
a fuzzy white river flowing south to somewhere.

                                                                  for Gary Davis

 

QUIET UPRISING

 

 

Fresh after-storm clouds,
of shadows climbing hillsides,
evening moon on snow.

 

BEFORE THE SHOW

 

 

The stage is set with
few days between rains
in years between droughts—

green hills hang fire,
begin to breathe
before they flower.

Knee-deep white egrets
comb blades of grass,
step lightly slowly

as tree frogs gather
to rehearse
an all-night chorus.

 

Old Packers

 

 

In his Model A, Bill DeCarteret stopped by our branding yesterday along Dry Creek Road. His visit with Tim Loverin, owner/operator of the Cedar Grove Pack Station, and me was much too short. We’ll do it again soon.

 

VALLEY OAKS

 

 

Last two hundred years,
six days afire—forgotten
ash and sediment.

 

SNOW’S RETREAT

 

 

Purple clouds up canyon,
an armada approaching
white skies at dawn…

battleships burning pink,
fleet afire and fading
into a bluer sea.

 

DAY FOUR*

 

 

Burning twin Valley Oaks
gone dead in the drought,
undermined by the creek—

four-foot trunks
of smoking coals
two or three centuries old

stirred with the skid steer
three times a day
religiously

have left a hole
in my tangled world
across the creek

I cannot replace:
timelessness trapped
in mottled shadows

embracing me
each time I passed
beneath them.

 

 

* Really “DAY THREE”, (today is Saturday, not Sunday). Excused from Jury Duty, I lit the fire Thursday morning after Erik Avila pulled the trees out of the creek with an excavator for Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District on Wednesday.

The ranchy part of this common confusion for us is that we’re busy, we work at something everyday, doing pretty much what we want—no “hump days” with weekdays and weekends pretty much the same, we tend to lose track of what the name of today is. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.

 

MONUMENTS

 

 

Facebook loading chutes,
peckerwood and pipe
from another time:

bob-tail horse trucks
tilting steep and slick
imperatives

that haven’t changed
when it rains
familiar profanities

from unclear skies.
I have outlived
their usefulness.

 

Up Canyon

 

 

More low snow on Dry Creek last night, 0.27” of rain from a fast moving storm that has slowed or closed traffic on the Grapevine and Tehachapi this morning. Our hills have been too slick to gather with horses, so we’ve gone afoot the past two days so that we can brand next week.

 

What happens when you put cowboys in a room to talk politics?

 

 

The Guardian