Tag Archives: poetry




Purple clouds up canyon,
an armada approaching
white skies at dawn…

battleships burning pink,
fleet afire and fading
into a bluer sea.





                                                                                                           The gods
                                               abhor halters and stirrups, even a horse
                                               blanket to protect our asses is forbidden.

                                                                   – Jim Harrison (“Poet No. 7”)

Handful of mane, wrap
of hair gripped and entwined,
I plowed the pine duff on the Kern
with my chin loping back to the picket line,
bell mare clenched between my legs
when she shied.

                    A pigeon-toed bay,
                    my legs and heart
                    grew into.

A plucky kid
leading mules and people

                    over granite scree
                    to snowmelt meadows
                    framing heaven’s
                    blue-cloud reflection

I could have died
half-dozen times
were I not so close
to the hands of gods
and goddesses

that may have placed
a rattler in the corner of her eye
for entertainment.

                                                  for Bill DeCarteret

“Mountains, Mules and Memories”





Burning twin Valley Oaks
gone dead in the drought,
undermined by the creek—

four-foot trunks
of smoking coals
two or three centuries old

stirred with the skid steer
three times a day

have left a hole
in my tangled world
across the creek

I cannot replace:
timelessness trapped
in mottled shadows

embracing me
each time I passed
beneath them.



* Really “DAY THREE”, (today is Saturday, not Sunday). Excused from Jury Duty, I lit the fire Thursday morning after Erik Avila pulled the trees out of the creek with an excavator for Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District on Wednesday.

The ranchy part of this common confusion for us is that we’re busy, we work at something everyday, doing pretty much what we want—no “hump days” with weekdays and weekends pretty much the same, we tend to lose track of what the name of today is. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.





Facebook loading chutes,
peckerwood and pipe
from another time:

bob-tail horse trucks
tilting steep and slick

that haven’t changed
when it rains
familiar profanities

from unclear skies.
I have outlived
their usefulness.





TV insanity,
old men posturing
Twitter and Facebook—
I expect the world
to make sense
like Shakespeare’s last act,
                    not of an age
                    but for all time.

My metaphors are wild
company, retreats
I might better know
in deep seclusion,
tracks to follow
and fill with form
to stand as proof
before me.

Like Slick Sweeney
packing a broomstick
to shoot his buck—
left horns and guts
intact, hide and flesh
looking back
to leap clean away
when he said bang.





Low snow up canyon, cold
rain at dawn, vernal pools
in the pasture stand full
waiting for Wood Ducks,
waiting for spring.

Sycamores stripped naked,
their white limbs wave
from across the creek
upon these ponds of water
in the evening sun.

Headlights slash the darkness,
a caravan of jeeps
and 4-wheel drives
whine down canyon—
weary songs back home.





Red, white and blue remind
of the friends who went
and never came home,
and those that did
that can’t forget
who they had to be—

of my father
and those before him
who believed
my Country, right or wrong.
How can I not be proud
of them, yet disagree?

I submit my flag
has been stolen from me,
waved to obfuscate debate
and silence truth.
But I submit my flag
as the genius to create

                    a more prefect Union,
                    establish Justice,
                    insure domestic Tranquility,
                    provide for the common Defense,
                    promote the general Welfare,
                    and secure the blessings of Liberty,
                    to ourselves and our Posterity

in the face of future
charlatans and Kings.
I submit my flag
as the backdrop
for partisan stage plays
where heroes become outlaws.

My Country, right or wrong?





Dry cordwood stacked, I crave
unpredictable clouds of change,
the cold and ice, the hail and rain

and the look of snow-capped green,
black cattle grazing an angry gray—
fancy whiskey in a glass with you

inside, woodstove sucking air to flame.
No matter what the pundits say,
it doesn’t change a thing.





Dim light above the kitchen table,
wet wedding rings beneath ceramic coffee cups,
shod horses fidget in the aluminum gooseneck
outside before daylight.

“Are Bud and Monte comin’?”
“Nope, just you and me, Babe,” he grins
showing teeth beneath his moustache.

“Any stars?” she asks. “It’s s’posed to rain,
you know, sometime today.”

“A few holes in the clouds is all,”
as he looks up at the ceiling.

“With a little luck
we ought to make it up the hill
before it gets slick,
get the cattle down
and be home by the fire
before it gets too wet.”

After a pause and long swallow, she asks,
“You know what day it is?”

“Thursday, I think”

“Is that all?” she lets trail on her way to the sink.
“Oh, I’ll be goddamned.

Happy Valentine’s Day!”





Hole in the night sky,
one last glimpse
before the eclipse—

red eye behind
a patch of clouds
and a quarter-inch
to drum upon the roof
while we sleep.