Category Archives: Poems 2015



Now that I can see beyond the dust
and dead oaks crumbling, begging
for some purpose yet as cordwood—

now that I can breathe, inhale wet,
clear channels to broaden my senses,
taste and smell the green air stick

to my thirty flesh with these rains,
I can think about this distant planet
and its people we are lost among,

the overlap of corporate nations
profiting from wars—projects to busy
and worry a populace to pharmacies—

I feel no less helpless, no less
inconsequential than a fly
trapped in a barn of spider webs.




                         And they establish foundations and give
                              some of the money back.
                                        – William Stafford (“Men”)

No pauses, anymore,
between wars.
No parades for heroes

stopping traffic
on Main Street—
no laurels for generals

to rest upon
when there are no ends—
just justified beginnings.

War is commonplace
like mountains in the distance
no one looks up to see,

too far from more
pressing matters
to consider unusual.





Vanity is absence.

                                       – Wendell Berry (“Praise”)



Within the unfolding
              Be here!
among waves of leaves
shed like rain
for a moment
of poetry—

somewhere other than
distant histories
and posed reflections.

              Be here!

to witness miracles
while the mundane dance
within the grace

of animated metaphors
in the half-light
of dusk and dawn.

              Be here!

on our knees
bringing life
with gentle breath
to dry twigs
upon dying coals—
to shadows melting
around our fire.






A series of seasons unfolding,
we chase the sun, pray for rain,
year after year—no two the same

in this canyon that sustains us,
trains habits and hones senses
into instincts like horses have,

like the wild wears with first breath
until the last for generations
in the same place—we know

this hard, yet resilient, ground:
clay and decomposing granite
dust mixed like concrete

with green seeds, given rain.
Waiting we become the place
and praise its perseverance.




Four dry cows: two old,
one young and one
whose calf came too early

run together
apart from nurseries
and nosey calves—

four girls content
to be not seen or found
on vacation

in a far corner
of a thousand acres
with water and grass—

hear the diesel purr
and goosenecks rumble
with horses pass

and pretend to be
invisibly still within
an army of oak trees.

They have no calves
to brand, no reason
to be included

and refuse to go easily—
split and make the girls
cowboy-up, leap

brush and rock
and cuss like sailors
in a storm.

                         for Robbin and Terri




Clouds low,
black night,
dogs keep the wild
backed off:

coyotes, bobcat
raccoons, feral hogs—
an occasional bear
or mountain lion.

They are busy.
We sleep easy
editing intensity
and intonations

to fit our dreams:
an ebb and flow
approach to home
we trust.




                 He shakes his fist and makes a gesture
                       of wringing a chicken’s neck,
                       scowls and rides higher.
                               – Robinson Jeffers (“The Coast Road”)

Each chisel tooth sharpens
the jagged edge at the bottom
of mountains lapped

by sea, wind and time.
Such extravagance to see
between road repairs,

slides and fire
the Pacific pound
at their foundations.

I have been the horseman,
made my fist into a club
to slow the obvious,

the greed, the vain—
rode higher, closer to
more sympathetic gods.






                                        They kinda put themselves out.
                                             – Art Tarbell

All the barbed wire,
tight fences, gates
and management plans

sag under the weight
of errant bulls.
It’s in the air

come December:
canyon bellows
dusk and dawn.

Latest genetic
work assignments
on paper only.


Any notion we may have had about putting our bulls out two weeks later is coming undone, under pressure of habit. A building crescendo of primal bellows in the canyon for the past three weeks has grown from chuckles to fixing fence and relocating errant bulls. Rather than fight nature and fix fence we’ve acquiesced to putting some bulls out now with the cows.

Two weeks ago one of our young bulls found the neighbor’s virgin heifers waiting for a Wagyu bull arriving mid-December. Rather then fix fence twice, we put him with some cows across the road. Monday, one of our older bulls crawled through two fences to find some cows and calves. We removed him and the temptation for the other bulls to another pasture. He then found our virgin heifers waiting for a Wagyu bull, mid-December.

Far from heifers, we put four older bulls out yesterday, four more today. What’s a couple of weeks, anyway?






Between Jeffers’ jagged edge
and Snyder’s Sierra peaks,
we graze grassy folds of clay

on cold fractured granite pushed
through titled sheets of shale.
Dealt deep canyons, ridges lined

like sunlit face cards: hearts
and diamonds glint with winter
dawn. We gamble lifetimes,

season after season with the goddess—
a diaphanous myth embodied
in the least encompassing the greatest—

more humane than the currency
of unreasonable religions,
or governments—she comes and goes

as she pleases, teases us like children
and we obey. No other mother
more erotic in a storm

pushing rafts of limbs and leaves
down a creek rising—our faces
streaked with tears of rain.






                                  And, nothing himself, beholds
                                  Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
                                            – Wallace Stevens (“The Snow Man”)

Always the backdrop
of deep pipe songs
awakening at dawn—

Roadrunners in rockpiles
like coyotes at night
finding one another.

Or the late November chill
of sequestered bulls
pacing the barbed wire,

their primal trumpeting
echoes up and down canyon
searching for the company

of work, sweet work.
The quiet moments
in between are cold

before and after
a good hard rain
when fog rolls in,

up canyon,
spilling over ridges
to wall the world away

in opaque gray
swallowing sound
to leave you lost,

disconnected, alone
with only the thought
of becoming nothing.