Tag Archives: poetry

STAPLES, POSTS AND WIRE

 

 

A long wire gate
in a steep spot
has heard replacement

swinging from pipe braces,
moving the fence,
for twenty-five years—

hears us laughing at the hole
it sometimes takes both to close—
about a list longer than our lifetimes.

On the slick hillside,
reminders realized, open
to pastoral light as I rejoice:

relieved from my word
to myself, to one another,
and to these staples, posts and wire.

 

BURNING BUSH

 

 

Prolonged moment before the all-day rain
quit, evening light pressed into the gray
reflects the mist within like a lantern glowing

separate from the sinking sun, blinding colors
rage around me, superfluous extremes burning
wildly with possibilities that beg me to yield,

to gratefully acquiesce and unfence my mind.
Rooted in a woodstove ash dump, heavy
with seed pods after twenty years—Redbud

in flames, tongues of fire hanging brightly
to taste the damp air fresh with a thousand
new beginnings we’ve yet to speak of.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

Another circle ‘round the sun—
                    fractured dawns
                    ride the ridgeline
                    to blind my eyes.

I am not the center of the cosmos,
                    just a passenger
                    on the planet
                    for a moment.

Green shadows reach into the Buckeyes
                    to bluing skies beyond
                    these dance hall girls
                    warming-up—

half-dressed sycamores
                    flashing flesh,
                    spilling leaves
                    awaiting sunshine.

Another circle ‘round the sun
                    between miracles of rain:
                    instant grass, instant future—
                    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

LAMENT FOR YESTERDAY

 

 

                              I’m an old time smugglin’ man and I know just what to do
                              I sell guns to the Arabs
                              I sell dynamite to the Jews

                                        – Tim Hardin (“Smugglin’ Man”) Verve 1966

Sometimes, the old songs ring true—
clever genius festering a tune
we can sing to our children
before we send them off to war.

Business explodes in the cities
of strangers, in jungles and deserts
we must liberate before we extract
our pound of flesh for the fallen—

and here at home, Dearly Beloved,
just outside the door, down the street
around the corner of the future,
nothing is secure anymore—

not the dollar, not the truth.
I want my old job back: weeding
flowerbeds for two-bits an hour—
knees deep into the rich damp dirt.

 

THE UNDRESSING

 

 

Crawling between the cobbles,
the creek begins to run again
lifting a discarded cover of leaves

into fragile rafts downstream
in the prolonged undressing
awaiting a freeze. White flesh

shows on some, bare limbs
reaching outward like flashers
in open russet trench coats

having shed their blush of crimson
weeks ago—slow and deliberate
provocations for hundreds of years

here, of frolicking sycamores, naked
nymphs dancing across the creek
when no one is looking.

 

IN THE FIFTIES

 

 

It was colder at the Solstice
when I was a boy, my father,
like a bear before the fire

between rounds snoring,
checking temperatures,
starting the Ford flat-head

wind machines, igniting
smudge pots for oranges—
lids thrown back for flaming

helmets, a nighttime line
of soldiers on every road
guarding orchards, crystalized

stars twinkling frantically.
A black cloud stayed
all day over the Valley,

soot invaded the houses
and went to school
on the faces of children—

mother’s party dress
protected in plastic
for yet another Christmas.

 

WHO WE WERE

 

 

Frozen in the folds of time:
blue smoke, oak flames,
gathered neighbors fed
when the work was done.

For 90 years, Cutlers drove cattle
to Rowell Meadow until 1953—
everybody came for my mother’s
father’s whiskey, meat and beans.

To get along, we will forgive
our ill-behavior, overlook
our extravagances, but sadly
we will forget who we were.

 

REAL LIFE

 

 

It’s a dance—
concentrate and relax,
guide the feel

of your horse
with your legs, find
the feel of your rope

at your fingertips
swing in rhythm
with the calf.

Like everything else,
it’s a dance—just
concentrate and relax.

 

Fuller Branding, Dry Creek – December 15, 2018

 

HEAVEN’S HOOF DANCE

 

 

Down the mountain, down
the four-wheel drive dirt track
to the asphalt that connects us

to home and families,
to basic urgencies far away
lost in time and space

beyond the whine of twine
around the heels of calves
stretched for branding—

when and where we are gods
for a moment, immune
to the insanities

of a civilized world.
All the old men gone
still lean against the boards.

I find my place among them,
whoop and illuminate
color with details,

hoping to see myself once more
stepping to the untamed rhythm
of heaven’s hoof dance.

 

 

GOOD HANDS

 

 

It could have been dreams
in a young man’s sleep,
lightly listening for the bell mare

high in the granite scree
that glows under starlight—
a celestial showering

from a leaky bucket sky
that came over me
to be a cowboy.

I did it well-enough
to stay in the same place
to become a cowman.

But it could have happened
at a branding, watching good
young hands just come to help.

 

 

Photo credit: Audrey Maze