Tag Archives: poetry




In our three score and ten,
we haven’t changed the world much—
though we marched for peace,

married and twice divorced
during continuous conflicts overseas,
over who knows what

philosophy it paid to exterminate. Now
it turns too fast for us and we retreat
like old bucks before the hunt.

                                             for JEG





Young ladies bathing beyond the cattails—
it could be the Nile or the Kaweah
pooling slowly in the summer heat

before the dams, before man began
to turn the earth around. We can’t
ignore the pesky fly in the ointment.





Beyond cell phone tethers
to the urgencies below,
we float beneath the clouds

with cattle in patched pens,
with the skeletons of oaks
stealing one last look

at old ways remembering
Effie Hilliard’s white horse
leading cows and calves,

her coywolves trailing,
through the gate to be
branded in these corrals.

A world above
she rode alone to leave
her ghost at peace.





O’ humanity hidden
within the moldy leaves
we’ve swept in piles

waiting to be burned
or bagged for clean yards
this time of year—

we have forgotten
our shame, we have forgotten
how to be human.

There are no secrets
among the tribe of trees,
no judgment either—

they are cursed to return
in spring, cursed to care
again with the possibility

of peace among men,
yet all they have to offer
but leaky shade and shelter

is persistence, the outside
chance we may finally learn
to love ourselves.




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Panels on boards,
gates bent preceding us
to plug the holes in corrals

to brand calves—we may
never live long enough
to repair all the past bravado:

the wild and woolly urgencies
intensified to explode into
crashing crescendos. Instead

we move to a slow routine
sorting cows from calves
who endure the process

               knowing soon
               it will all be over
               and back to grass.





One of these days
I’ll return as a dog
to an impatient man
like me, my just reward.

Cowdog, instead of poodle,
if I get to choose—
no inside gig,
no sidewalks,
I have my standards.
Days of adventure
with a partner
like me to help
defy the odds,
the ins and bys,
the runaways
with a grin.

Outside the corral,
I’ll know my place,
let the action be
my live entertainment.





                                        ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                                        Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’

                                             – John Keats (“Ode to a Grecian Urn”)

Art depends on the eye,
wild shapes dancing or
frozen on an eagle’s crag

waiting to fall
engulfed within
the petals of a rose.

Nothing stays the same.
The certain truths evolve
with angles of light,

and even in death,
the skeletons of oaks
shedding bark and limbs,

casually undressing
proclaim honesty,
beauty to us all.


                                        after yesterday’s post by fellow blogger Evelyne Holingue





We chase seasons in circles
of the sun—hot, cold, wet, dry—
await instruction of the senses

looking for a sign, for a reason
other than the comfort
of familiar trails loaded

with surprises and dashed hopes
that wire will hold a ranch
together, deter the nature of bulls

looking for work or a fight. It’s easy
to forget our differences, see
ourselves somewhere in the herd

looking out at the world
through another set of eyes—
of rocks and trees,

domestic and wild. And after
chasing seasons for awhile,
we begin to think like them.





Not far from Wuknaw,
where Bird and Animal people
molded man from this clay ground,

the landscape’s changed: pipe
pens and power lines, first Angus cows
driven weeks from Mexico—

it seems I’ve been here always,
neighbors helping neighbors
brand calves, become friends.

It’s a slow dance horseback
sorting drys from wet mothers
and their calves, few words

spoken, mostly looks and space
at the gate—all the stuff
you could never tell a younger man.

* * * *


Yesterday, Robbin and I helped Tony Rabb brand his calves on the Perkins. So simple and brilliant to maintain the name of a previous owner for a place or a ranch to preserve our common ground and history, more normal than not around here. The Perkins family descended from T. H. Davis who drove forty Angus cows from Mexico to Woodlake in 1853. So much has changed. Forty-five years ago I helped Tom and Gary Davis ship 3 year-old, 1,200 pound Angus steers off this ranch.

First time horseback since knee surgery went well, but a little rusty roping. This is Robbin’s striking iPhone photo before we got started.