Tag Archives: runoff




                        Highwater debris,

                        enough to measure peak flow

                        gauging stations miss.


We’ve begun naming creeks

that flood the dry draws,

pull nominees from our histories

while exchanging guffaws.


We have become the helpless

prisoners of the weather,

of flatland floods and saturated mud,

resisting cabin fever.


Roads and fences, trees to cut,

our work comes to a halt—

no need to fuss, cows don’t need us

with water, grass and salt.







                     Not the least hurt by this ribbon of road carved on their sea-foot.

                                          – Robinson Jeffers (“The Coast-Road”)


Fridays bring the caravans of Christians,

SUVs freeway-spaced and paced at sixty

up this snaky road to the pines and cedars

                                                                                    to pray


and low-snow weekends, the growl of mud grips

on decomposing asphalt, armies of colored jeeps

and shiny four-wheel drives drone up-canyon

                                                                                    to play


do not see these hills leaking with pleasure,

every wrinkle running with crystal streams

of rain, three weeks of storms rushing to


a rising, chocolate creek with foam, nor

the naked sycamores, leaves undressed,

white limbs dancing, rosy fingers reaching


for steamy clouds afloat upon the green

oak-studded slopes, black dots of cattle

scattered with all the legends gone before me.





Gray canyon rain,

café au lait rivulets

overfill vernal pools


spreading to the creek

just begun to run

at the end of December.


She stayed overnight

and all day, lingering

to leave us extra rain,


as if we were old lovers

trying to give the past

a second chance—


she offers nourishment

to thirsty earth, bare slopes

a cover of color come spring:


a team of sunlit Wood Ducks

at the edges of water pooled

grazing with horses. 











After the first inch rain
I work the road
with big Cat loader tires—
three towed behind

            four wheel drive
            low range crawl
            smoothing ruts
            like icing a cake

keeping gutters clean
and runoff into draws.

Outside, inside
down the middle
two round trips
four miles clay, rock
and some d.g.—
plenty time to think
and look for life:

            quail, hawk
            deer and bear,
            somewhere cattle

this fresh day.

Through the open window
scent of milk and cud
in the flats—

            little bunch:
            cows and calves

I’ve grown wild
since college and the Sixties:

            hauling hay loads up,
            goosenecks gathered
            with fat calves down
            the mountain—

our dirt road lifeline.