Tag Archives: poetry




Thirty days into summer, the heat
owns us now and we yield, change
our ways to work into the shade

of anything between us and the sun.
Out of habit, a neighbor’s cow stands
beneath the skeleton of an old oak,

a ridge-bound casualty of the drought—
a silhouette mid-morning as I head home
branded in my brain like a wrought iron

logo for outdoor living hanging
from an arched concrete entrance—
beyond which I am blinded

by the white light of my delirium.
I close my eyes to see clearly again,
turn away and pray I may be wrong.





A plodding grace with each footfall
of cloven hooves upon soft centers
of winding trails engineered to grade,

cows claim this ground, claim us as well,
tracking seasons of the sun ever-circling.
Behind fences grazing shade to shade,

they worry not about the days ahead.
How we envy and emulate their easiness—
hang totems to draw the cow gods closer.





Since the four-year drought when we had to leave the gates of each mountain pasture in Greasy open to secure water, we haven’t had a decent count on our cows. Drought-killed trees and limbs on fences haven’t helped us manage our numbers either. But we do know how many calves we branded in Greasy.

As we’ve gathered to wean and harvest our crop of calves, all but one calf was accounted for as of last Thursday, a calf that may have died sometime after branding. Nevertheless, Robbin and Terri left early Friday in the Kubota with a bale of hay, salt and mineral to look for tracks, to insure we got all the calves.


Evening wine, and
I still want to celebrate
the last marked calf

on the books, in
the weaning pen, out
of the brush and rock

with cows behind
the Kubota and a bale
of hay, Robbin and Terri

on the cellphone calling
for a gooseneck, for Bob
and I to haul him home.

Two frozen bottles of water,
four beers with lemons, cool
reward in an insulated pouch.

                         (iPhone selfie: Terri Drewry)





Moonrise at her throat, a glowing pendant,
hair spilling into the creek as she sleeps, and
when the light leaves, her dark silhouette

begins to breathe as the hills come alive at night.
Native women dance where they have worn
the ground to a powdery, fine dust, easy to inhale—

their chanting rises with the moon as coyotes answer
from the canyons these past ten thousand years.
Temporary, we become lost in the landscape—

our souls, the depth of our flesh absorbed,
secreted in her creases for safekeeping as we wait
just beyond the reach of certain change.





I wonder through pipe fencing
to blond feed and green sycamores
to the pinkish hillsides dotted

with blue oak drought survivors,
why—or does it make a difference
in the long haul to God

knows whom or what! This is
our moment to spend on what
is important to whoever

we think we are—our
chance to stand for something,
for someone, somewhere.





Perhaps age, or perhaps it’s the 100-degree heat, but my enthusiasm wanes for lots of things, including poetry.

I’m up early enough to write before we leave at daylight when it’s the coolest. Perhaps it’s the drama of the news, its incongruence, its self-righteous and self-serving players vying for the spotlight, for power or money—mostly bad-acting at best, politics has become so terribly transparent these days. Thank God we have work to do.

Yesterday, when we finished processing and doctoring a few eyes of the calves we weaned Tuesday, Terri pulled her iPhone out to document the Greasy calves—something I had planned to do, but didn’t. Thank you, Terri.

Perhaps the work, the satisfaction that comes with the jobs we do is where enthusiasm waits, apart from the distractions of the outside world beyond our ridgelines. Engaged and invested, each day is usually an adventure. So I’ve changed my writing habits to summer afternoons, glad to be inside and out of the heat hoping to find a little more enthusiasm then.




We take sleep when we can,
welcome the dreams that dance
unsteadily from out of dark curtains.

Undisturbed, we are the playwrights,
shaping characters and editing lines
as we move towards an unknown ending

or a mysterious purpose, if any, on this planet
at odds with itself, and with humanity—
yet hoping that the visions we hone

subconsciously will bleed into the daylight
and become like ripe seeds planted
in our brains, waiting, waiting to mature.





The foundation crumbles—
the red, white and blue
states of dysfunction

grapple blindly
for another victory,
chip away at truth and honor

just to play in the District
of Columbia. Poll-driven
word games, big dollars

for coffers drive the train—
O’ Casey Jones
watch your speed!





Some say joy,
shout happiness
for a moment—

long day
of dust and heat,





Day-old wonders,
what passing pollinator
could resist an invitation

for the momentary splendor
we leave in the dark
to haul confused

fat calves off the hill
in the heat building to
107 degrees—all

the action melted,
long stems limp and wilted
when we return.





Same old ground this time of year,
gathering grass-fat calves and steers,
pasture by pasture, to the corrals
to weigh and exchange for cash—

to do it all over again—a collage
of seasoned stories where details blend
within the bronze and brittle stems
between canyons fenced like funnels

down to flatter ground. Cattle gentler,
better bred to routine and for the hook
on these same old hills they graze,
when and if it rains in time for grass.

Habit after half-a-hundred years,
no two the same, we circle back
in the same old tracks, just
to see what we’ll never see again.