Category Archives: Poems 2021

BUCKS IN BRUSH – TWO HAIKU

I will not say where,

but offer a photograph

of three before rut

 

rattling branches

of brittle Manzanita

to harden their horns.

THE LIST

After the lightning

igniting fires, after the storm,

a new day dawns

 

with hope

and a hint of change

from the blistering summer heat

 

with the equinox knocking

at the door, I think

of all the jobs earmarked

 

for years—our growing list

of work we’ve saved

for rainy days.

 

The prognosticators

are unusually quiet,

don’t dare say

 

when to expect a rain.

I keep adding to a list

that will outlive me.

ALMOST UNSEEN

Out of the blue

the space between us

rings like a bell

 

as I become

a curious diversion

for two young bucks

 

oblivious to the perils

of the outside world

swirling around us all.

 

How I envy such innocence,

rejuvenated for a moment—

yet I lay down to look

 

through dry stems of feed,

my horns lost in branches,

almost unseen.

TWO OAKS

Partners for a long time

on this earth

overlooking

 

hills and canyons,

wet or dry,

side by side.

 

Close enough to touch

one another

in a storm,

 

comfort and embrace

with solid roots

and sturdy limbs.

 

Monuments

until our grand stay here

finally decomposes.

OAK TITMOUSE

During hot and dry times

the little birds gather

around the house—

 

around water

leaks and irrigation—

more dependable

 

than humans:

woodpeckers clinging

to rainbirds,

 

bushtits flocking

to timed misters

at six o’clock,

 

quail rolling to a stop

at the water trough,

and swallows plunging

 

into the ‘sip and dip’.

But the thirstiest of all,

the nervous Oak Titmouse

 

at the dog’s dish,

one drop at a time

all day long.

AUGUST MONSOONS

Out of the Gulf to rest upon the spine

of the Sierras, run aground on the Kaweahs,

animal shapes spill overboard

 

after marking months of blazing days

since April showers, we watch clouds

and wonder if it rained on Arizona friends,

 

or if it’s pouring now on the Kings

or in the Roaring River Canyon, Rowell

Meadow darkened beneath them.

 

Despite hot monsoon gusts that lift

and twist the dust across the pasture,

pregnant cows sequestered to the shade,

 

we dare to breathe relief as the sun slides

south—split redwood and Manzanita

waiting ready near the woodstove.

IDES OF AUGUST 2021

Dust trails behind

plodding black cows off the hills

to water, bellies stretched with calf,

while we drink coffee—

 

and we are proud of these cows

who grazed uphill to bed

while we drank Tangueray and tonic,

slice of grapefruit instead of lime.

 

An acquired taste, raising cattle

through years of drought—

a bittersweet love affair

with the ground that sustains us.

 

We know her every crease

and wrinkle, and which leak water—

all of her magic spots

forever branded in our brains.

DAMN DAMS

I still call it “the Swamp”

where thirsty Valley Oaks

centuries-old shed their limbs

among barkless skeletons,

bleached bones like flesh

waiting to fall into the next life.

 

Half-mile across on Christmas Eve,

1955, the Kaweah flowed to the doors

of our ’53 Buick—headlights

diving into oncoming wakes

like Captain Nemo’s submarine.

 

Not free to run when it wants,

we have held the river up

in the hills for sixty winters,

only to let it run all at once

across the Valley to irrigate

orchards and summer crops—

no kids fishing from shady banks

a lazy river recharging wells.

 

We can’t fill the dams we have,

yet cotton trailer billboards suggest

that dams can make more water

without looking to the sky.

THE RUB

Forgive the fruit flies

their penchant for wine,

their bitter taste

 

and I

for defying nature

with a lid.

 

There is no end to it,

the assault

to comfort and convenience.

HOT AND DRY

Cooper’s Hawk

under a rainbird’s shower,

yellow eyes

 

mermaid and frog

before taking a drink

at the ‘sip and dip’.

 

Too hot to hurry

in the heat

we all grow tame.