Tag Archives: poetry

ONE MOMENT, PLEASE!

In these hills, a man finds space that feels
familiar and friendly, and it must ask
in ways where we hang empty words
like ribbon just to find our way back - but
we stay a moment and let our horses blow.
 
They feel it - perhaps they feel it first
and do the asking of the place, or perhaps
it is the shards of light diffused at dawn
upon the many-legged oaks standing
knee-deep in grasses on the near ridge
 
that shield us from man’s square creations,
his cubic thinking. Perhaps the sensual grace
of limb or slope, or granite worn to look
inside our minds, but there are places
that ask nothing else of us but to breathe
 
and taste the air, inhale with our eyes
and drink with our flesh for just a moment.
Once dared, it becomes ever-easier to be
enveloped with the wild, an addictive peace
that embraces awe as eagerly as a child
 
might love - where a man can ride beyond
his time and station, beyond the tracks of those
before him: spaces that beg a moment’s notice
where both grand and simple revelations
are left and learned and lived in place.


 

HALLOWEEN

Dark morning chill stirs the flesh
to welcome winter waiting
for flaming tongues 
to lick between
dry Manzanita branches
igniting Blue oak 
in the woodstove’s glow.
 
I recall storms, the floods
and endless downpours,
creek too high to cross
for thirty days and pray
for anything wet enough
to start the grass
for cows and calves—
 
for my sanity, something
akin to normal
in these crazy days
of politics and pandemic—
something to trust 
as right as rain—
something to believe in.

THE COUNT

It’s an art
countin’ cattle,
‘specially calves—
it takes concentration
to keep a mind closed
to everything else
and get the same answer
twice.
 
Dad maintained
that the simpler the mind
the more dependable
the count—
the only excuse
I’ve got.


							

OCTOBER

Nap-time nurseries
beneath the sycamores,
babysitting cows
relieve one another
to eat and drink.

Those without calves
recline with bellies bulging,
thrust painfully skyward
like over-inflated
black beach balls—

            all await the green
            soft-stemmed alfalfa—
            await new life,
            await a rain

to settle dust underfoot
as they graze short-cropped
dry feed into the dirt

            awaiting new life—
            seed awaiting rain.

The long range forecast
confirms our superstitions,
but like a no-hitter
we dare not mention yet—

until the dark hole
in the barn grows larger,
until the canyon fills
with echoing complaints,
the agonizing song
of cows begging,
calf solos in the distance.

NOIR

The mysteries, puzzled
pieces scattered, most missing
and decomposed by the moment

linger, shelved in the back room
for future reference
awaiting adhesive connections

that seldom take shape.
The ranch and its inhabitants,
the wild and tame, the unknowing

hands of man and the malicious,
the well-meaning touch
that turns terribly tragic--all

scattered, stacked one upon the other,
clues that only true detectives
note in the dusty swirl of ambiguity

left to settle with experience--
an illusive sense beyond the tangible
that this old ground evokes.

*       *       *       *
   
Inspired by an article in the latest issue of Will Hearst's 
Alta Magazine: 

https://altaonline.com/private-investigators-san-francisco-phil-bronstein/

HARVEST MOON 2020

A perfect moon
for chaos,
I become the face

of an observer,
a skirmish
still raining ash,

but a tick in time—
I yearn for yesterday:
butterflies and squeaky gates

that turn cows
with unnerving ricochets
of change, a trap

to escape as I become
the face
of a smoking moon.

REPARATION

 

 

Shaking hands with my former self
in these chaotic times
may not be progress. The clock

ticks backwards to dust clouds
and loud hurrahs, to whoops of youth
and muscles flexed to hold

the heroic buck and run
of someone else’s dreams—
a reckless swagger into smaller light.

I could have died several times
and learned nothing—my grip
to meet myself eye-to-eye.

 

HELPLESS

 

 

On the other side,
all the current dangers rage
unseen that words cannot

assuage. Isolated here,
hands busy with simple
tasks, we cannot breathe.

On the other side,
an unknown future waits
to reshape us to survive.

Fifty years ago,
I was afraid
I would become proficient—

integrate guilt and hate
into my young soul
to become the best

at squeezing death
before a soldier’s
impromptu grave.

On the other side,
we pray for clarity—
for humble purpose.

 

TALISMAN

 

 

From out of the smoke
raining with ash, white egret
at standing water.

 

HEIFERS AND HORSES

 

 

No social distancing, evening conversation
centers on introductions as sorrel horses
welcome first-calf heifers coming to water:

no politics, no economic woes, just
domesticated souls touching nose-to-nose
before shadows crawl across the canyon.

We are enveloped for prolonged minutes
within their quiet reverie, forgetting
all the bad news they’ll never know.