Tag Archives: war



Occasionally, I feel guilty.

I’ve killed so many

that I may allow

one to escape

my will to kill


before becoming numb

as machinery,

before squeezing


               the pellet gun

               the .22,

               the .223

               or the 17 HMR—


…like now as I write:

one breaking from

the dogs’ empty pens

with cheeks full

of puppy chow.


Little bastards,

I’ve fed tens of thousands

to our local wake of buzzards

waiting for the first report

of war in the canyon.


Falling off hillsides in hordes,

battalions of vermin

to strip tomatoes

green from the vine—


every sweet and juicy issue

from my darling Elberta,

our plump grapefruit

and leather-hided pomegranates

that will never spread

as jelly on toasted bread.


Serious business in a drought

to become an oasis

for the flea-infested

and their underpopulated

predators, but I’d like a day off.




Now that I can see beyond the dust
and dead oaks crumbling, begging
for some purpose yet as cordwood—

now that I can breathe, inhale wet,
clear channels to broaden my senses,
taste and smell the green air stick

to my thirty flesh with these rains,
I can think about this distant planet
and its people we are lost among,

the overlap of corporate nations
profiting from wars—projects to busy
and worry a populace to pharmacies—

I feel no less helpless, no less
inconsequential than a fly
trapped in a barn of spider webs.




                         And they establish foundations and give
                              some of the money back.
                                        – William Stafford (“Men”)

No pauses, anymore,
between wars.
No parades for heroes

stopping traffic
on Main Street—
no laurels for generals

to rest upon
when there are no ends—
just justified beginnings.

War is commonplace
like mountains in the distance
no one looks up to see,

too far from more
pressing matters
to consider unusual.






No longer children
chasing rainbows,
we want to believe

the drought is over—
look to the mountains
to shield our souls

from insistent cities
and a world at war.
Like native Yokuts

we want to believe
the ground can hold us
before we leave.



A trace of rain up-canyon yesterday afternoon as I looked up from my desk, inside after an 1.5” of rain, sorting poetry for another collection—working title: “The Best of the Dry Years”, 2013, 2014, 2015. A formidable task, like sorting 90 head from 900, it will take many more rainy days to complete.

The photo has that postcard-look of not quite real, a reminder of what a little rain can bring. Yet, I harbor some skepticism, not ready to say the drought is over, to set ourselves up for disappointment. But it sure feels good, nonetheless.


Weekly Photo Challenge(3): “Treat”





                                        Old violence is not too old to beget new values.
                                                            – Robinson Jeffers (“The Bloody Sire”)

With ease, we have evolved to softer versions
of ourselves—no longer lean, Dust Bowl men
in coveralls waiting for work and a weather change,

sinew no longer strained to stretch the harvest
of endless furrows. Within earshot of lamenting
old men leaning on fences, I was part of a future

doomed with easy-living, and so I have been
by comparison, yet with little time for visiting
face-to-face, eye-to-eye. We have become immune

to the violence next door, alive in cyberspace, and
deaf to war—the clash of sword-on-shield or bigger
better guns barking how to cull the herd—with ease,

we have evolved to envy dumb animals and birds
in touch with the sky, yearning for ignorance
and bliss. And all the old values now lost to youth.



                  Wherever we looked the land would hold us up.
                        – William Stafford (“One Home”)

We have come back to rest upon the rock
we couldn’t move out of our heads—
you riding barefoot on a Kentucky

mule to town before I was born
to land here, young. He raised us both
after the war that forever changed him,

and us—all of us close, and those close to us.
I tie those times to the underwater look
in old Mort’s eyes understanding more

than his bib-overalls could handle. Doc
Sweeney was no doctor, but said it best—
“He didn’t come back the same.”

Slow to move now, we never weakened—
grateful for the gravity that holds us up
to gather tough country in our sleep.



“One Home”