At six a.m., there is no ridgeline
to separate day and night, work
and sleep, dreams of what could be
and reality, balanced before my eyes—
no reasons sure without possibilities
I nurture and respect, keep alive
like cattle, a herd apart from madding
throngs beyond these hills, that become
my flesh, tended by these plodding girls—
that I believe at times that I am one
among them, ruminating in the shade
of the wonders before us, this perfect world.
Rivers of cars and trucks compressed
between houses stacked like cordwood,
between parking lots and mini-malls
ready to serve anonymous strangers
usurp more earth, sterilize and seal it
from the sun and rain—level the landmarks
for living histories of neighbors and families
lending a hand, sharing labor, teaching
one another how to give and live together
without the siren’s wail I hear
in the shrinking distance—from the lights
at night that blot out constellations.
My anger has become a sad acceptance
of human ambition, the relentless waves
of wealth and debt that may go hungry with
no landscapes left to feed their souls or flesh.
It could be an old photograph
beneath a younger oak tree
standing in wild oats—almost
anytime before I was born.
The sound of change
travels uphill, follows the slope
from the bottom of canyons
like an amplified alarm.
Here’s where natives rest
when the flesh gives in
to peace with the world—
you can only feel them near.
I’ve lost touch, deaf
to the muses, immune
to the need to wrestle
words into a gravid line:
with a dead calf
too big to bear—
to feed the coyotes
and golden eagles.
Our fuzzy recollection of the sire
through the wire
surrounded by a milling herd
of virgins for a day—
whose dreams came true
how many times?
No romantic whispers
in the breeze, acorns
and oak leaves falling—
we feed hay,
look for trouble
and pray for none.
Robbin and I were pleased to see the fresh calves at the Paregien Ranch, our mature cows already setting up nurseries. Though I have my theories, but exactly how the cows decide which new mother will be the babysitter is still a mystery. And who will replace her while she’s grazing?
The cows have broken up into bunches, the most expectant mothers hanging together. Especially vulnerable to coyotes during labor and immediately after the calf is born, struggling to stand and nurse for the first time, each cow depends on the security of the bunch.
It’s refreshing, reassuring, and almost inspiring to see such cooperation within a species without a fuss—an example of selflessness it might do well for humans to emulate. Until then, what better way to spend a Sunday.
High Sierra thunderstorm,
pagan drumbeats lifting
from the earth washed
with the heavy drops of old souls
ready to refresh the circuit
of humanity, or perhaps this time
stay to the granite bowls
as a reflection separate
from the watershed below.
Oaks and acorns, buckeyes turning
crimson in thin air, empty heads
of blond dry feed awaiting rain
for another crop of grass and seed—
the old soul that sustains itself
apart from the hazy world below
with its improvements, its notions
of success and progress that seal
the most productive off, choke
and forever neuter fertile dirt
beneath orchard rows of houses,
concrete and asphalt streets
to parking lots for millions of hungry
cars, freeway rivers stalled with debt,
gridlocked daily to pay the bills
to keep all the wheels turning
to more ground to improve, mine
and drill, extract value—suck
life and suffocate its soul into
an empty plate to leave the future.
Adding sideshows since
business has picked-up,
for carnies and barkers.
We’re doing swell!
We have war games,
on real bombs—
a geography lesson
all around the world
with money trails
to island laundromats
for you to follow if
you’re looking for truth.
We have every version
of the latest news—
manuscripts for sale
for first-time authors—
just fill-in the blanks.
Better than reality,
a thousand truths
to believe with heart
and mind for sale:
We’re doing swell!
The earth’s reception
of the sun’s reflection
as august and austere art
beyond this world
and its petty politics,
its busy claustrophobe
and unscheduled urgencies
we must navigate
until it rises behind
Blue Oak silhouettes—
for a prolonged moment.
Day breaks into dreams of possibilities,
a thousand paths in new directions,
and yet we choose the proven route
under reconstruction. How we change
our ways and destinations depends
on pause and reflection, long moments
cast upstream, over and over again,
where the mind is free to be mesmerized
by the fly as it finds new currents home.
We dug worms for cane poles, watched
corks bob when I was a boy. It’s not
about the fish, but the fishing instead.