Tag Archives: summer


During hot and dry times

the little birds gather

around the house—


around water

leaks and irrigation—

more dependable


than humans:

woodpeckers clinging

to rainbirds,


bushtits flocking

to timed misters

at six o’clock,


quail rolling to a stop

at the water trough,

and swallows plunging


into the ‘sip and dip’.

But the thirstiest of all,

the nervous Oak Titmouse


at the dog’s dish,

one drop at a time

all day long.





We leave winter’s ice and snow
on the other side of the Sierras,
find spring colors waiting,

poppies and lupine in canyons,
yellow mustard claiming gentle
slopes of green, green grass.

How we worry with the bloom,
feel the leer of summer peeking
already to forget the drought.




When were children, we ran half-naked
through July and August sprinklers
where the tough Bermuda grass

always needed mowing. We spurned
shady places and lay instead with girls
getting baby lotion tans. As my flesh

cooked, I would close my eyes, fireworks
beneath their lids—my imagination ran
to places I knew nothing about—

just disconnected flashes of flames
within the black. No one seemed
to mind the heat in those days.




A man gives up early in the summer,
too warm for wine, too hot for evening
poetry to endure, before darkness closes

the oven doors to bake in the black.
The Kings River calls, trout singing
from the riffles, asking why, when

trails of natives and early settlers rise
into the mountains, spread like webs
into the pine cabins and camps

beside the mantra of running water
through the night. I go early to bed
to get there in my dreams.






My pagan sunrise hangs over the black ridge
reaching for the saddle this side of Sulphur
Peak with blinding light, this native place

where women healed themselves—to endure
this longest day of hundred degree heat.
Each day shorter, we move with confidence

towards October, imagine gusts beneath
dark clouds that bring the storm gods closer
to bless this dry and dusty dirt with rain.






Outside, early summer heat stifles
the mind, bakes a hard crust
upon the brain beneath straw lids—

eyes roll and detach within flashes
of white light, falling towards delirium:
I cannot breathe or see connections,

I cannot think, I cannot write.
Small comfort that I am not alone
within this fuzzy circumstance.

Harassed by a squadron kingbirds,
a Great Blue glides and lights
upon the gravel, stands tall

to claim any open space,
grounded for battle. All supposed
sentiments have escaped to shade,

gone north to cooler climes.
Summer in the San Joaquin,
a damn hard time to write.





Dawn bears down early,
sears flesh exposed,
blinds eye and mind

into a fuzzy daze,
fiery-white as hell
must be. We plod

slowly with heads bowed
to mantras of water
keeping the living alive.

Like cattle, we bed with
welcome breezes moving
shade to shade.






I’ve little time for wonder—
warm days plod circles,
wear dust tracks in thin dry grass

we follow like cow trails
without endings,
without looking beyond them.

There is no adventure,
no endorphin rush,
no epiphany other than

one more summer
to endure, to survive
like lichen on rock.