Category Archives: Poems 2021

RAGS

Mountain raised,

Colonel bred,

the old man gets the call,

show her how it feels

to really watch a cow—

to hold on

when he cracks back,

hear him nicker

under his breath

when he’s done well.

No better feeling 

with your clothes on.

            for Allie and Fairlea Smart Pic

HOUSE FINCHES





He waits upon the beam

that holds the rafters up,

dry weed in his beak.

He chirps incessantly

as she constructs a nest

with what he brings her.

He seems to have forgotten

the ear-piercing love songs

from her red-breasted suitors

prancing on the railing

now that he has a partner

to get the real work done.

SPRING 2021






Short-stemmed wildflowers
attempt to act normal, draw
eyes from bare hillsides.
 

SOMEHOW, STILL LIVING





                        Swirl of savage sunsets,

                        Swirl of the dead

                        Somehow, still living.

                                    – Adrian Louis (“Degrees of Drought”)

Bribed with little water,

we have enticed Redbuds

to brighten our gardens

with cardinal colors

regardless of rainfall

before they leave

green hearts in spring.

Even the bare hills

sigh and grin relieved

for the living, love us

for our generous nature

that keeps the wild alive

and close to our swirling 

yearnings satisfied.

BEFORE DAWN

White sky,

purple frigates crash

into foothill silhouettes—

some slip behind,

compass heading east

trailing a damp cold front.

Headlights crawl

up the road, spotlight

searches sycamores

to a heavy bass beat

for something to kill,

something to eat.

LAST CHANCE


Another round of Blue Oak

from the limb droughts have cured

to fall with a crash in the yard—

after the calves were marked

and friends were fed and gone,

you and I and a bottle of wine

before the fire we cooked upon

waiting for the pillowed clouds

to collect and turn dark gray—

our forecast rain.  Tough filaree

looks like the dirt it’s hanging on,

leaves red and brown and in between—

last chance for feed this spring.

One wonders why we do this

to become the grass we need.

THE DEER

                               The deer in that beautiful place lay down their bones:

                               I must wear mine.

                                           – Robinson Jeffers (“The Deer Lay Down Their Bones”)

Secreted within steep brush and granite

to browse the fresh and tender Buckeye leaves,

the fragile innocence of deer seems tame—

safety but a bounding leap away.

Were we so unengaged to see ourselves

as novelties, we might pause more often

to look out upon the urgencies of men

and women inventing new shenanigans

to keep us shackled to our egos

as redundant and unnecessary weight—

were we so rational. How we envy deer

their shrouded bowers where they can feed

themselves. Nearly as free as deer

in the rocky cliffs above, the doe can see

the calves we have been looking for.

MARCH 1, 2021—SHORT-CROPPED GREEN

When I was young I wished
for longer springs and hillsides 
painted with wildflowers,
 
grass belly-high and every canyon
running water—livestock grazing
pastoral notions, heavenly eternal.
 
I may have to stand in line 
on the trail to mountain pastures
when I shed this human coil,
 
but hope to hell that the majority 
of souls will be waiting 
at the Pearly Gates instead.

SHE SLEEPS IN SILENCE

                                    The mountains 'round here look like a woman
                                    lying naked on a bed
                                                - Dave Alvin (“Out in California”)
                                                            
Little wonder, the earth is female—
the moon, a golden amulet
rising from her breast, her feet at rest
with the slope of Sulphur peak
as her long dark hair 
forever streams into the creek.
 
Apart from men, 
native women gathered here
beneath her supine silhouette
made sacred by the moon
to be a healing place 
each time she took a breath.
 
She shares her dreams:
comfort and lasting peace
beyond the ever-escalating
chaos and confusion
that rattles impatient minds
like a gourd full of seeds.

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FROM HERE

I know where the grass grows first,
fresh and tender where raindrops linger
above the road and creek below.
 
I can feel wild spirits talk,
dewless tracks where they walk, 
stepping lightly to lay beside me
 
and my calf.  From here we shed
the claustrophobe of fence and gate,
far away from the human race.