Category Archives: Poems 2019

RECALLING ROBERT FROST

 

 

With evening G & Ts
we will stare
across the creek
at black hills,
white ash remains
cut by cowtrails—
pink phos-chek trim
between blond dry feed
until it rains
                              gray,
until it rains
                              green.

We map the burn,
watch the weather,
hope for ground soft-enough
to drive steel posts
for five barbed strands
of Red Brand

because good fences
make better neighbors
for a long time.

 

FIRE DESIGNS

 

 

Ashes, white on black
slopes, drought-dead Blue Oaks, final
portraits of a fire.

 

POWERLESS

 

 

It’s black early yet,
few lanterns glowing
across the quiet canyon,

drought-killed Blue Oaks:
roots simmering
in the rock-hard ground.

The wind will turn
the burnt to gray
until the rains

bring a fresh green
start—nothing
we can change.

 

LOOKING WEST FROM CHUKCHANSI

 

 

Night stalks the day,
tracks the last light
over the edge
of our horizons
a slice in time away

from calvy cows
that graze the gloaming
before bedtime,
rest upon the hard
clay ground of home.

Among the gray hairs,
walkers and wheelchairs,
our game of chance:
the heartbeat’s thrill
with wild circumstance.

 

THIS WHEEL’S ON FIRE

 

 Photo: Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images

 

                                                                                you lift your faces
                    and let it drench you in evening prayer.
                                        – George Perreault (“April Winslow: Waiting on a Rain”)

Nothing good about the Amazon
burning better than expected:
a fifth less oxygen,
drier Gulf storms
from the llano to California
to stream our cheeks with prayer.

 

TO WATER CATTLE

 

 

Before we traded ranches,
your mother witched a well
that artesianed into a trough
to water cattle, that overflowed
to fill a pond twenty-four seven
without turning a wheel.

Before we traded ranches
you had tenants
that wanted more
to irrigate cannabis
with a pump and gas generator—

pulled granite sand and pebbles
to dam the crack
where water ran underground
from Sierra peaks
to the wellhead freely.

Married now to a generator,
storage tank and pump,
I pack gas and oil,
carry electrical testers,
tools and spare capacitors,
for a second well we drilled
too deep for solar
to water cattle in a trough
that never overflows.

 

COFFELT PLACE

 

Pinterest

 

The Emperor vines were a hundred years old
when I was a teen learning to irrigate
granddad’s thirsty vineyard, whole pump
down five furrows—hope and wait.

You had to fill the deep sand up
before it carried water down the vine row.
In the old days, Coffelts spread the pump out,
then went fishing in the pines for two weeks.

Much has changed the way we think
about water—wells deeper, trees on drip.
The earth sinks with the weight of farming
until nothing’s left to keep it up.

 

IDES OF AUGUST

 

 

Blueberry moonrise
never in the same place twice—
acorns ripe in oak trees.

 

EASY SHOT

 

 

Four-point buck, horns
dull just out of velvet
five weeks before season opens—

quick hoof thump
of my old heart
upon the hard ground,

I smell venison marinade
over an open flame,
taste the back-strap melt

upon my tongue,
wild cunning juices
surging in my veins.

I become young again
and shoot
through a camera lens.

 

YERBE DEL PESCADO

 

 

Had we fish to stupefy
with turkey mullein seeds
the late rains have left

in turquoise waves
above the knees—
we could be native.

Instead we feed
the squirrels beneath
these fuzzy canopies

where shotgun hunters
will wait for mourning dove
to light and leave.

 

 

Croton setigerus: a native of the western United States, and found commonly from southern California north to Washington, particularly in the more arid locations away from the coast.

I don’t ever remember Turkey Mullein, or Dove Weed, so tall and thick and claiming such large tracts of dry summer pasture, or its color quite so blue—worth journaling, I think.