Tag Archives: Fire




                  When I got a little older, I changed.
                                    Maria Lisa Eastman (“War Bridle”)

Summer winds breathe fire
with a bouquet of hollow wild oats
bent on chance and luck—
but we cannot look away
or ever dream relaxed.

One would think with age
and long experience, a man
would become emboldened
with skid-steer-bladed
firebreaks and phoschex

that always help, but time
has proven reason often
beyond the comprehension
of some of us who wait
for the smell of smoke.


Fire Season



About 4:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon, an arsonist started a grass fire about a quarter-mile north of the house, 110°. After calling CalFire, I got to the head of the fire with the skid steer as the first engine arrived.


Fortunately, the fire break we built in April kept the blaze along the road and off the hills, leaking only north and south. After unlocking the gate for the crew from Modoc County familiarizing themselves with the local terrain and responding to smoke, I returned south as Air Tac dumped Phoschex on both ends of the 3 acre blaze.

A wake-up call and good practice for us all as we enter fire season.





Vanity is absence.

                                       – Wendell Berry (“Praise”)



Within the unfolding
              Be here!
among waves of leaves
shed like rain
for a moment
of poetry—

somewhere other than
distant histories
and posed reflections.

              Be here!

to witness miracles
while the mundane dance
within the grace

of animated metaphors
in the half-light
of dusk and dawn.

              Be here!

on our knees
bringing life
with gentle breath
to dry twigs
upon dying coals—
to shadows melting
around our fire.







Don’t care,
go anywhere,
eat anything—leave little

evidence behind, but
barefoot tracks,
whole berries in black scat.


Drought and fire,
slim pickin’s high,
bears lumber off the mountain,

hundreds in canyons
trying to make a living
on damn few acorns—

grubbing for bugs,
trashing trash cans
taking pets and an occasional calf.

Shaggy invaders
from the past
like science fiction.


Ursus arctos
own the moonlit mountain town
on Halloween,
rummage door to door,
wait on the porch for more
of anything to eat.
Trick or treat.






The old ways fade
and disappear into the dust—
we leave few tracks

in the mountains,
in the canyons—
our hands are rough.

Red rivers run
through our hearts,
love and logic pulse

our slow ascension:
young horseback souls
grown old and weary,

we inhale the pitch
of pine, the cedar
smoke, silhouettes

facing one another
around the fire.
Red cinders rise

to join the stars
of forgotten time
among the gods.

                                    for Amy

JULY 1, 2015




Summer harbinger:
a lightning strike beckoning
red shiny engines.



Rough Fire

151,493 acres
85% containment





We ride for a brand
of life in open spaces
while the iron is hot.



WPC — “Symbol”





Last evening, a small lightning strike just before, dark half-mile from the house, as monsoonal moisture sailed up the west side of the Sierras. Easily accessible, we count our blessings.




Neighbor Tony Rivas had the fire pretty-much corralled with his shovel by the time I arrived with the skid steer. Another neighbor, Chuck Fry, had the gates unlocked for the CDF insuring we didn’t have to fix fence when the fire was out. Still flashing in the mountains this morning, 0.09″ rain.








Beginning to end,
tender loins and fruit on fire
finding Nirvana.



WPC(1) — “Orange”




I imagine that the young men
I went to school with have retired
by now, given up their desks
for free-wheeling possibilities

to coast downhill grades, collecting
their rewards and all the promises made
to themselves, over and over again.
I truly wish them all the best.

And I suspect the girls have become
wise grandmothers with practical advice,
keeping secrets in ceramic cookie jars
with noisy lids like I remember.

Leaving with Stafford, I retire
from a world too large to digest,
and go to that far place for the familiar
sign, those recognizable tracks

where wild makes sense of circumstance.
We are collecting short stories
like mushrooms in wicker baskets
before they fade and melt into the ground,

discussing how we’ll sauté them over fire
in butter and garlic to melt in our mouths
instead. Already we can feel their wild
flavor rage in our veins, like venison,

as we shed the old flesh, find keen eyes.
All the ghosts will rise beneath the stars
to gather at our fire, faces flickering
in the darkness to share the light.