Tag Archives: poetry




We celebrate survivors,
pay homage to
who we hope to be—

that with a little luck
leave quietly—not stray
too close to the road.





We have places yet
before the plow,
the yellow steel,

for naked grace—
the wild dance
that steps lightly

upon this ground.
Our clumsy dreams
are child’s play,

drunken dumb shows
of cell phone selfies
squinched in squares.

Blessed be the buck
in rut with purpose
beyond the wire.





Any man can be a star
when the ground is hard
and short of feed—

and when the crowd
clambers for relief,
any man can be a god

in certain quarters
if he can load a truck
with good alfalfa hay.

Yet the compassionate man
loathes the burden,
despises his inadequacy

to make Nature rain.
Any man can be a star,
but she’s in charge.





A deep dark brown upon well-worn ground,
the luster of acorns ripe for consumption
litter the roadway, the steep dirt trail

to cows and calves expecting hay or rain.
How the oaks fed us all, once upon a time,
ground and leached into a meal—filling

the bellies of bear and deer, or crushed
beneath a wheel for quail, or swallowed
whole by Band-tailed Pigeons and Wood Ducks.

At maturity, a forgotten crop awaits but few
harvesters, a steady dwindling of wild souls
that owned this space and lived well-enough

to prosper generations. What seed have we
to leave, now that we have changed the world—
what truths have we left to tell our children?





Forecast dry, blond fuzz thin,
long black line of heifers camped,
necks bent to flakes of hay
at Halloween, it seems, like always.

Wood Ducks by the thousands
migrate to the base of the Sierras,
to Spanish Flats and the Live Oak
above the pond that waters cattle—
not room enough to float them all,
they come to harvest acorns.

Bleak weeks ahead, we grit our teeth.
Damn few poems hang on trees
shedding leaves, only crooked fingers
dripping crimson, Buckeyes beckoning.





We know where we are in the West
waiting for a rain, chasing forecasts,
feeding hay, thinking about praying

to gods and goddesses alike,
to the floating spirits, the old parts
of the whole soul that dwells here

with you and me, and with the souls
of dear helping hands on this dry ground
cut by canyons and grazed by our family

of cows—our circle of souls surround us
waiting for a rain. A faith so
commonplace, we take it for granted.





Is it fear
that draws us near
to spectacles,
the barker’s bark,
flags and bunting,

Gray hair, State Capitol
behind him,
he’s horseback
bringing cows down
out of the mountains
for generations—
needs no Internet
or TV
to ride reality
behind a bunch
of cows pausing
for their calves.

We can learn to think
for ourselves again,
turn our backs
on the latest act—
invest instead in
what gives us peace.

                             for Les





The crows are back
to claim their roost
on the service pole above
pump and water trough.

The quail are scarce
since the Sharp-Shinned hawk
has come to spend
winter above the fog.

The Sycamores have quit
drinking from the dry creek bed,
quit pumping moisture
to their yellowing leaves.

Even the old bucks think
their necks are swelling
after the first rain smelling
primeval, basic and good.





Evening conversation dwells
on a thin cow, vaccine
protocol and the dog’s limp

without a hint of politics
beyond the barbed wire—
beyond this ground and grass.

We don’t want to know
what makes the news—
what makes the outside world

tick with greed and power.
Evening conversation dwells
on more important things.





After a rain, everything is clean,
summer dust washed from leaves,
from the hides of cows and calves
gathered for church in shady shelters
to pray for the sweet scent of green.

We begin again to watch the sky,
look to heaven for perfect storms
and wait—dream of thunder
and draws of muddy water—
leaning forward into the future.