Tag Archives: Gary Soto

TOGETHER

 

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                                    And note this, dear dead doctor:
                                    When we sleep, our legs twitch,
                                    And not from the hunt
                                    But from trying to run away.

                                                   – Gary Soto (“Dr. Freud, Please”)

A Red Tail pair in Blue Oak tops, buff breasts bared
glow at first light, watch over their dark shoulders
as I feed hay, speak to horses, winter mornings

to wonder about the everyday routines that tie us
to animals, to a place and time by the sun. The deer
would lay down where the barn stands now

over a shrinking stack of bales, a short walk
to metal mangers as I look back through the eyes
of the house to see you moving to the woodstove,

curls of Manzanita smoke disappear into the gray.
We have camped in the trail between canyons of wild
pad and hoof, claimed the space they walk around

and would take back should we be gone for long
without our habits holding what we’ve done together,
together—for this moment we hold our ground.

 

Early Morning Writing

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Fellow blogger menomama3, Life in a Flash and Wuthering Bites, has asked that I share my writing process.

 

To begin with,

I get up early, my writing habit for years. It’s black outside except for one unobtrusive mercury vapor light at the horse barn, not a sound in the canyon. This is my time. No ringing phone, no demands from the outside world. My mind is fresh from whatever dream possessed it while I slept and relaxed. Often a dream lingers inexplicably, sometimes a day or two with vivid images and interactions or just a fog of feeling I can’t explain. But bottomline, my mind is all mine for a couple of hours.

Staring at a blank white sheet is not as intimidating as it used to be, and more often than not I already have a line strumming in my head, perhaps one garnered from my sleep. If not, because this is my discipline to write every morning, I have several collections from poets I admire on my desk that I may open randomly, and many on the shelf if the ones close at hand don’t help my inspiration.

In either event, the first line goes down. It may become the third line, last line, but in the process, that’s unimportant. By the third or fourth line of the first stanza, I’ll probably reorganize the first line anyway, or trash it altogether. I edit while I write, unlike many poets I know. My poetry is somewhat lyrical, and this jousting around in the first stanza or two, I think, is to set the meter or rhythm of the poem. I tend towards internal rhyme, it seems, and lean on it heavily to establish, or reestablish, meter.

I may approach the page with strong purpose, but most of the time I don’t know exactly where I’m going, and that’s the fun part. This grazing livestock culture relies heavily on metaphor, on personification, on anthropomorphic (new word, Suzanne?) explanations, and with that, a unique vernacular I also try to utilize in my poetry, as my own way of thinking.

I depend on details that I visualize to turn a line in a poem, a cause and effect, hands-on approach, and allow myself to feel the action, to become vulnerable and human, hoping to connect with readers beyond my world.

And why?

Reclusive by nature, the cattle culture has been under siege for generations. Hollywood has not helped our reputation, nor have a half-dozen well-meaning campaigns originating in town to oust us from the land, often in favor of development or other extractive industries. Our livelihoods are dependent on the renewable resource of grass. In it for the long term, we do everything we can to keep the ground, and our cattle, healthy. Land and cattle, we are one family, and that comes first.

Projects

come when time allows, I have several in my head: a chapbook with a working title of The Dry Years (surely to sell like hotcakes) and a perfect-bound, larger collection that will include the chap; also an eBook of photographs and haiku, when I can find a format as kind to the photographs as wordpress has been.