Occasionally, I feel guilty.
I’ve killed so many
that I may allow
one to escape
my will to kill
before becoming numb
the pellet gun
or the 17 HMR—
…like now as I write:
one breaking from
the dogs’ empty pens
with cheeks full
of puppy chow.
I’ve fed tens of thousands
to our local wake of buzzards
waiting for the first report
of war in the canyon.
Falling off hillsides in hordes,
battalions of vermin
to strip tomatoes
green from the vine—
every sweet and juicy issue
from my darling Elberta,
our plump grapefruit
and leather-hided pomegranates
that will never spread
as jelly on toasted bread.
Serious business in a drought
to become an oasis
for the flea-infested
and their underpopulated
predators, but I’d like a day off.
Behind our back, ground squirrels
crawling on their bellies raid
the peach tree, an Elberta with huge
fruit starting to color that bob
and bounce across the pasture,
bigger than the heads that run
with them gripped in yellow teeth.
Come evening, a flutter of black
feathers, our resident pair of crows
dining at the fence line on scattered
cadavers, fuzzy lumps awaiting
buzzards for breakfast.
Everyone trying to make a living,
nothing goes to waste,
not even peaches.
– for Mas Masumoto
Thin veil of snow on the Kaweahs—
granite shows on peaks undressing.
The creek slows and disappears
as the thirsty earth drinks miles
from the river, puddled behind a dam
that will not fill the Valley’s furrows.
Tan medallions, last spring’s leaves
quiver from brittle fingers of oak trees
sprinkling green hills, giving centuries
of rainfall back as decomposing homes
for smaller survivors. It is not over
despite a forecast chance of rain—
dry seasons last, leave evidence only
years of floods can erase. Almost March,
the buzzards have returned early
circling an easy harmony of generations
gone—each clear voice rising,
we hear assurance and good advice.
Posted in Photographs, Poems 2015, Ranch Journal
Tagged birds, Blue Oak, buzzards, Drought, Dry Creek, Great Western Divide, Kaweah, Kaweah River, photographs, poetry, rain, water, weather, wildlife, Yokuts