Tag Archives: signs



I look to the ridges for clarity,

for a sign of an approaching storm

gathering somewhere north—


trace silhouetted skeletons

of drought-killed oaks, branched

like Challenge Butter bucks.


As my eyes escape the first waft

of chaos and claustrophobe,

I leave my flesh to rest among


all the old cowmen with nothing to do

but watch the learning process

over and over again.


The Natives retreated to the hills,

but at the top of mountain peaks,

there’s no place left to go.



Thin starts lay limp 
as green fades to gray
amid the brittle stalks 
of short-cropped dry
the cows have missed
as I open the gate
ahead of several storms
to search for Live Oak—
stove wood heat 
with little ash
prostrate since 
the 4-year drought
branded in my mind—
decomposing now
before my eyes.
Limbs ache with years
bent to this ground
chasing seasons of grass,
but red skies at dawn
reawakens the flesh.





Bumper crop of acorns,
warm monsoon rains.
The redbud bloomed

confused, drawing butterflies
for weeks—the season’s
last hatch of Monarchs

swarming crimson, orange
and black-trimmed fairies
to the front door.

All a sign of something
unusual, uniquely beautiful—
that superfluous imbalance

charged to an unknown
future—a fleeting gift
to remember the gods

before leaving us
four years dry and begging
for something normal.



Weekly Photo Challenge: “Weightless” Monarchs


Weather Journal 2011-12

Rainfall History






First sign of a convoy at dawn
scout the sky eastward, small raft
of red on blue, I photograph

a promise of rain—then check
the Internet to bolster old saws
for shepherds and sailors

at the mercy of fickle gods
of weather and wonder
if our lover has returned—

how long will she stay?
Kindling split, we will be warm,
ignite the fire, cut wood and

carry ashes out until spring.
We are ready and prepared
to say goodbye to drought.



The pair of eagles
returning early to ride
our foothill thermals

elicits surprise:
‘what do they know that we don’t?’
we agree to say.

No water, no place
to fish in a four-year drought—
it must be something.






My brother, the old farmer, says
that it’s about over, that out
in the Valley where I seldom stray,

brand new drilling rigs rise
every two miles above the orchards,
out of corn fields reaching past

underground rivers that have lost
their way—like locusts, like aliens
descended to pound and perforate

the earth with steel, pneumatic
proboscises, they shine
through sun and starlight.

In the garden, the damp earth
moves, as if alive, with tree frogs
and toads traveling the shade

from flower leaf to vegetable
like a plague, like a sign
at the end of farming

or this drought, or for El Niño rains?
All the wishing at the wellhead
doesn’t matter to a tree frog.



Very strong El Niño likely during autumn/winter 2015-2016; significant impacts possible in California




March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014


Riding rafts of red above
clouds of dust,
we could breathe for a moment.






My brown-skinned girl,
each dusty draw
seems softer, shadows

linger longer at the dawn
as the sun moves south
down ridgelines.

I begin to hear
the faint sound
of a light rain, early

on the roof—the musty
smell of it awakening
a primal surge of new life

for old veins on guard
for the slightest sign
telegraphed ahead

of a train in my mind
mesmerized by rivulets
finding their own way

to the creek running
into spring. Cottonwoods’
first yellow leaves

gathered by rolling gusts
up and down canyon—
you say you feel it too.