Tag Archives: Railroad





                                                            the world
                              lives in the death of speech
                              and sings there.

                                             ~ Wendell Berry (“The Silence”)

My time is here
within the details—
small tracks that whisper words

I’ve yet to say or spell,
a great expanse opening
new frontiers beyond

the clatter, the cacophony
of commerce, the pomposity
of puppets geared

to create more fear.
Talons latch and lock,
tumble carelessly

with confidence—young
eagles playing, practicing
pinwheels in the canyon

beyond the corrals.
There is no sound
from my open mouth

as they disappear
behind your hat, your horse,
Earl’s board fence

and our cows wanting
to get along.
No time to say

what will never be enough
or too much
before it’s over.


Dirt Works @ Railroad Spring




We’ve been on David Langton’s list for well over a month as he moves ranch to ranch with his four-wheel drive backhoe improving stock water. Railroad Spring has been nearly dry for two years, with not enough water in the spring box to reach the pipe. Hand dug and constructed of concrete and rock with a disc blade lid, it’s provided good water since well-before my time with the exception of the droughts of 1938-39 (anecdotal) and 1976-77.

(Heavy equipment working at the 2,400-foot elevation 4-5 miles from the asphalt is always a clash of sensibilities for me.) In the photo, David has dug about three feet below the original spring box and gotten to a flowing crack in the hard rock, nearly an impossible task to reach with a pick and shovel. He’s trenching the pipeline we will install this morning to the troughs in the background, which will presumably overflow in a normal year to the dirt tank beyond them.

When the trench was completed, we measured the flow at 1½ gallons/minute, that if sustainable would amount to well over 4,000 gallons/day, however, as so often is the case, the flow subsided to about ¾ gallons/minute after about five hours. We intend to work around the original spring box some more before installing our new spring box and pipe. Meanwhile, we broke a little water loose at the Grapevine spring a 1/4 mile away, and mucked out enough silt to form a basin where the cows can water, previously preferring to drink the fresher water pooled in their hoof prints than the warm stale remnants at Railroad Pond. Open to two other pastures with water, my count at Railroad was 24 head of cows getting ready to calve.





                                                                                     the world
                                                  lives in the death of speech
                                                  and sings there.

                                                       – Wendell Berry (“The Silence”)


We name landmarks on maps in our minds
so we can go there. Some to detail feeling
with art reaching-out to all humanity
searching for that common hearthstone

beyond man’s hackneyed adjectives
and political objectives. We press names
into place with indelible ink hoping
to get lost in the map’s open space

to touch the unnamable and soar
with the song. Those elusive, musical
fragments, those glimpses in trees, but
all we have when words are done.