Tag Archives: time




We have left our mark on this ground:

the house, the pipe, the horses,

cattle, shop and barn—and the avenues


between them—that were not here

forty years ago where the deer lay down

beside the road. Our tracks everywhere


we worked details into grazing hillsides

and raising calves you’ll never see

before they are erased by time’s storms


and someone else’s appetites and dreams.

Our short moment among the mortar holes

and pictographs that will outlive our presence.




March 10, 2011


Once the invincible gambler,

I was weaned on cowboy heroics

to wear the scrapes and scars


of chance and circumstance

stiffly—my bones now groan

ground under the pressure


of time, worn smooth as cobbles

in a creekbed.  Stride shortened,

my feet slide searching for stability,


having danced this earth as one

in my collected dreams aboard

four great horses I’ve outlived—


I am learning to change my mind,

to find the flavor in a moment

I’ll not savor another time.





The fine dust upon old tools I have forgotten

as I clean the shop: my brace and bits, some

long-enough to chew through creosoted


railroad ties while scraping granite gravel. Mighty

hugs to my shoulder in long, youthful spurts

that warmed the birdshot bearings out-of-round


where there was no electricity to hang a gate

miles from the asphalt. It was my third.

I wore them out. I knew no other way.  


I recognize the dead scent of time as mine

on the shelves, in wooden boxes no one makes

anymore, protecting stiff-leather headstalls


and rusty bits we’ll never use again. I must make

room for the cordless handyman, especially

since this old battery has begun to run down.





No time to rush! Let me linger,

relearn the mantra,

absorb the moment.

Time will escape me soon enough.


The forecast storm is bogged-down north.

We’re wet enough

to have a spring—

wildflowers blooming in our dreams.


Feeding horses, I catch the mist—

each tiny drop

upon my tongue

tastes like this passing moment.






Damp and cold, her breath

slips through the door cracked

to push the smell of smoke


through the house while it rains

lightly.  I steal deep breaths,

pretend I’m young again


before I light another.

Though I miss the real storms,

the overbearing trepidation


that escapes its banks to flood

with heroic tales and wonder

when its over, I am now lifted


out of time on her breath,

this gentle rain, hillsides

running green—reborn again.




AFTER LEONARD DURSO’S “on reading Su Tung-p’o”

April 13, 2020

                                      Never arriving, what can we understand,

                                      and always leaving, what’s left to explain?

                                                  – Su Tung-p’o  (“After T’ao Ch’ien’s ‘Drinking Wine’”)


Leaving only the moment, I remain in this canyon’s swirl

of loose pieces, histories before me beckon memories

and how it’s changed in my lifetime to survive the storms

of wet and dry that forsake young skeletons of hillside families

to stand among the forgotten limbs at their feet.


I hold this landscape’s perfect smile of emerald green

in dreams, waiting for a glimpse of her velvet face,

wild skiffs of colored flowers entwined in her hair,

amid the planet’s storms for power, day and night—

always faulty propositions for the masses.


As I draw closer, leaving an uphill trail of time behind,

this place I have circumnavigated since I was a child

owns me—now that its desires have become mine.

My eyes ride the ridgelines at the edges of heaven

where I will rest easily when I finally arrive.




I study rock landmarks,
look for tracks
to see if they have moved.

The pipe gate swells
in the heat. Now only
swings but one way.

Resident ground squirrels
and immigrant ring-neck doves
share the dogs’ food.

On brutal days
over 110°—
there are no rules.

Like Dali’s clocks,
time is part of the landscape,
like it or not.




photo: Bodhi Rouse

photo: Bodhi Rouse


Never figured on a sunset,
children, grandchildren around
a smoky Live Oak fire,
the SoCal storm bleeding north

                    above a frost-bitten garden—
                    dry stem tomatoes
                    and peppers hanging
                    like ornamental gifts
                    for Christmas.

I thought I escaped California in 1970
to ride back through time, didn’t think
I’d camp in one place this long.

Never figured on iPhone photos,
satellite dish for shade—
or planning for a future
that depends on water
and obsolescence.






Long stiff with the sweat of years,
I see myself beneath its dust, retired
from the common ignorance of haste.

All the timed events, all the wild cattle
made by the chase are scars etched
in fragile leather, some in my brain

as sweet memories of riding high,
shoulder to shoulder in the gather
of good men shaped by this landscape

that will outlast us in the end. Too soon
old, they say, too late wise, I could
always have taken better care of time,

thrown away the watches and clocks
and invested it in the real observation
of other living things—even the smallest

of which has a mission to teach us
the hard way. And what I fail to see—
this slow creak of bones will illuminate.






With crystal clarity, stars throb
before the storm moves in at dawn,
black air clean clear to infinity,

leaky bucket worlds peeking-in
the window as I wake from sleep—
another promised day of needed rain.

Once, we took the day off,
went to town, visited neighbors,
congratulated nature for the extra holiday.

A machine takes messages
from a nine-to-five real-world
ordered to make hay on rainy days—

and I listen, hoping no one wants me
but time, time to ride the prolonged rage
of a loud and sudden thunderstorm.