I Found Myself in Elko


As we were leaving Cowboy Joe’s with coffee, Bob spotted me this morning in downtown Elko, on Cedar Creek’s store window—an aged portrait by Kevin Martini-Fuller with my poem “Our Time”, dedicated to our neighbors at home, Virginia and Kenny McKee.

By scanning the bar code in lower left hand corner, you can hear my recitation of the poem or see ‘Audio Poems’ in the menu above.

Early Spring Cleaning

 

 

Between rains when we couldn’t go anywhere on the ranch, we began extricating boxes of books from the house that have been published by Dry Crik Press since 1989, including every issue of Dry Crik Review. Boxes were stashed throughout the house, office and attic that we sorted into plastic containers, now half-a-pallet in the shop—the first time that Dry Crik’s offerings have been in one spot.

Certainly not a job I relished, Robbin decided to replace the carpet in the living and dining rooms while Bob and I are in Elko. Once we started clearing the floor space, we found box after box of books that had to be dealt with. All of the Dry Crik Review issues, and Dry Crik Press publications prior to 2008, were printed in Craig Lindeman’s garage in Visalia. Craig collected leftover paper from the other print shops, and sympathetic to the cause, didn’t charge much for his work.

The books and memories were overwhelming.

 

Bull Tracks

 

 

You can tell by the tracks, including the down fence, that the bulls have started running out of work. It appears that a discussion with the neighbor’s bull took place at 3 locations on the downhill side. Testosterone in the air, our 2 bulls on the uphill side went head to head for a while before one was pushed through the wire. The real battle that crippled our bull took place on the neighbor’s side where we retrieved him. Good news is that the fence is repaired and the crippled bull is in a pasture by himself.

 

FOR ME

 

 

Naked girls reach for the light

                    downstream,
                    stage right,
                    day’s end:

with alabaster limbs washed
after a good rain, leaves
puddled in the shadows
at their feet as the sun sets
a little south of the western myth
and the three hundred pagan souls
that owned this canyon,

hills worn smooth—
centuries of cobbles seized
by knotted roots
chasing water
still claim the creek.

A battered jeep limps
home for repairs
down the road between us,
a day at play
in fresh mud and snow

and the girls keep dancing
unconcerned and unafraid

                    of time

                    for me.

 

WOLF MOON

 

 

She arrives quietly before dark night
like a lover returned
reminding how we fell

into one another’s eyes
to share the light—
to help me forget how

the planet spins with acrimony,
all the harsh words
under layers of lies

lost to her shadow cast
across the canyon—
she is a goddess rising.

 

The Sierra’s Spine

 

 

Snow accumulation is just short of ‘normal’ for this time of year as we head into four days of forecast rain. Going up the hill to help the neighbors get one more bunch branded while we can still get to Mankins Flat, just on the other side of the near ridge.

 

California Weather Blog: “Wet and stormy week ahead for all of California”

 

STAPLES, POSTS AND WIRE

 

 

A long wire gate
in a steep spot
has heard replacement

swinging from pipe braces,
moving the fence,
for twenty-five years—

hears us laughing at the hole
it sometimes takes both to close—
about a list longer than our lifetimes.

On the slick hillside,
reminders realized, open
to pastoral light as I rejoice:

relieved from my word
to myself, to one another,
and to these staples, posts and wire.

 

BURNING BUSH

 

 

Prolonged moment before the all-day rain
quit, evening light pressed into the gray
reflects the mist within like a lantern glowing

separate from the sinking sun, blinding colors
rage around me, superfluous extremes burning
wildly with possibilities that beg me to yield,

to gratefully acquiesce and unfence my mind.
Rooted in a woodstove ash dump, heavy
with seed pods after twenty years—Redbud

in flames, tongues of fire hanging brightly
to taste the damp air fresh with a thousand
new beginnings we’ve yet to speak of.

 

THAT TIME OF YEAR

 

 

Believe it or not, there are thirteen, or parts of thirteen, people in this photograph taken at Jody Fuller’s branding on December 15th—two calves are down. One of the things that has changed dramatically since I was a boy about the size of the two, (can you find them?) in the photo, is the processing at branding when the only vaccination we gave back then was a two-way clostridial. Everyone in this photo has a job.

The youngest boy with the purple glove has the pine tar to apply to the area of castration, the other has a syringe of Enforce 3 to apply in each nostril. Their mother, outside the pen, is keeping track of tag numbers (yes, there’s a tagger) and the sexes of the calves. Additionally, modified live vaccines to ward of respiratory illnesses and a broad spectrum of clostridial illnesses are given to each calf, plus a separate dewormer. Jody also gives her calves an injection of vitamins.

Because of the concern for antibiotics in beef, vaccines have been developed to limit the necessity for antibiotics in feedlots, essentially placing that responsibility, and cost, on the producer. The media is currently focused on the residue of antibiotics in most all the major hamburger outlets—old cows and bulls. A very small percentage of BEEF cows and bulls ever get an injection of antibiotics.

As neighbors, most of us are used to working together as we brand one another’s calves, but I think it’s remarkable that the job goes so smoothly, especially with two, unpredictable live calves on the ground.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

Another circle ‘round the sun—
                    fractured dawns
                    ride the ridgeline
                    to blind my eyes.

I am not the center of the cosmos,
                    just a passenger
                    on the planet
                    for a moment.

Green shadows reach into the Buckeyes
                    to bluing skies beyond
                    these dance hall girls
                    warming-up—

half-dressed sycamores
                    flashing flesh,
                    spilling leaves
                    awaiting sunshine.

Another circle ‘round the sun
                    between miracles of rain:
                    instant grass, instant future—
                    HAPPY NEW YEAR!