Alta Magazine – Winter 2020

 

 

What a great surprise to see Brigid Reedy on the cover of Alta Magazine, Journal of Alta California. Accompanying her in this issue are also perspectives from my good friends Amy M. Hale (Auker), Ramblin Jack Elliott, Andy Hedges and Don Flemons to round out “The Herd Word” by Meredith Lawerence, a tribute to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! (Branding calves this morning)

 

TOURIST

 

Courtesy: The Summit Post

 

If ever there was a table set
on the John Muir Trail,
it was picked clean
between meals
by Steller Jays
impatiently waiting,
screeching, falling
from Tamaracks
in the midden around
a black circle of stones.

The trail is wide
through Rae Lakes
beneath Fin Dome—
slick leather soles
on the Serpent’s back—
my name is in the box
above the fractured chimney
where I held a tourist
pregnant from falling.
Saved two risking one.

I leave again without the work,
without the pack stock,
without the traffic on the trail
whenever I want
to cast clear water
to green submarines
cruising a hidden lake
that I suspect
the world has found
and picked clean.

                                 for Tim Loverin

 

“RECKONING”

 

 

                                      (Click to enlarge Table of Contents)

                    RECKONING is printed in a limited edition of 74 copies
                             plus 26 lettered copies signed by the author.

 

Dec. 31, 2019: The last remaining lettered copy (“C”) has been donated to the Silent Auction at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 27 – February 1, 2020.

 

$10.00 plus
$1.50 shipping

cash or check to:

Dry Crik Press
P.O. Box 44320
Lemon Cove, CA 93244

 

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Branding: Paregien Ranch 2019

 

 

Despite local forecasts for rain, we made the trek up the hill with our neighbors to brand our first bunch of calves for the season. Over the years here, we’ve dealt with fog, rain and snow, but yesterday the sun broke through the gray to complete a beautiful day.

 

 

Additional hazards are these two Blue Oaks that Effie Hilliard incorporated when she built these corrals many decades ago, one of which is now a casualty of our 4-year drought. Though we’ve threatened to remove them, consensus has been that they remain.

 

 

Though we see one another individually throughout the year, the first branding of the year is always a special get-together for all of us.

 

 

One of the benefits of trading labor is that everyone knows how we want the job done, whether a horseback or on the ground. You just can’t hire any better help than our neighbors.

 

 

And one of the drawbacks, as we age, is that some of us have now outlived our horses. Finding a replacement gentle and trustworthy enough for old men is not easy, but Tony Rabb brought a young buckskin mare to the branding pen for the first time with impressive success. Robbin and I thank everyone for helping us get the job done.

 

MULTI-TASKING

 

 

Busy finding myself
between unfinished jobs
I have forgotten,

                    words leap
                    to start a line
                    of another poem
                    I’ll never finish:

half-baked epiphanies,
humorous futilities
like litter left behind me
doesn’t get the job done,
                    but makes the work
                    a little more fun.

 

HOMER COVE 2019

 

 

How I crave the feel
                    of an old soft rope
                    in my hand,
                    spoke-balance loop
                    like an open mouth
                    hungry for heels
in the branding pen.

                    Fifty years
                    I’ve marked calves
                    on this spot,

                                        chicken-coop corrals:
                                        bog in the gate
                                        that Giz built:
                                                            hog wire stapled
                                                            over a 2 x 6 rectangle
                                                            I drug through the mud—
                                        replaced and almost forgotten.

It’s hard to let go:

                    same horseback look
                    south down-canyon,
                    creek meandering a bowl
                    of fresh green feed,

                    safe and apart
                    from a hazy world
                    beyond the narrows—

the feel of my rope
among neighbors
roping calves around a fire—

reliving a dream
on a borrowed horse.

 

WEATHER REPORT

 

 

Up early, awaiting
confirmation of the storm
slated to rain out plans
to brand calves
without complaining,

                    feeding hay
                    on slick roads
                    to thin cows
                    as grass grows
                    against the cold
                    Winter Solstice.

Nothing on the news
but red and blue politics,
mass shootings
and fog on 99,
ads for fast foods,
wonder drugs
and old age—
not one damn thing
I want. Nothing

                    I can change
                    but feed more hay
                    to hungry souls.

 

WEST 32nd STREET

 

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I lived in town for a moment,
a neighborhood around the Shrine—
                    Black on one side,
                    college kids, the other
in a subdivided,
old two-story
peeling paint
we called Big Pink.

Weekend mecca for loud
electric sounds, Janis
and the Revolution wailing—
the street would teem
with strobe-lit kids,
weed wafting sidewalk trees,
trying to ignore the War,
Kent State and the M-16
awaiting graduation.

Landmarks close,
I had no plans to map—
yet found myself asleep
retracing trails
to High Sierra meadows,
                    bell mare edging
                    a snowmelt lake,
                    pine smoke and
a leaky bucket sky at night.

 

‘TIS THE SEASON

 

 

                       There’s a dragon with matches that’s loose on the town
                       Takes a whole pail of water just to cool him down.

                                 – Grateful Dead (“Fire on the Mountain”)

After rain,
willows aflame,
green on black:

photographs
of germinating
truth taking root

after fire—after
the smoke clears
and dust disappears

with seasons changing—
we begin again
with grass.

 

JUST ADD WATER

 

 

Nine out of twelve days rain—
ground first to turn green
where an errant spark
blackened hillsides
three months back.

If only most of man’s mistakes
could be as easily erased
by just adding water
to all the bad actors
and their political stage plays.