Tag Archives: wells

THE DREAMT LAND

 

 

for Mark Arax

The ground is sinking
to where the water used to be
all across the San Joaquin,

agriculture’s deficit spending
leveraged into fortunes
for California’s kings.

This side of the Sierra divide,
it’s always been ‘boom or bust’,
flood or drought,

nothing normal
in between
to bank on

but drill more wells for nuts:
almonds and pistachios,
another million humans

to farm like cattle,
corral in cubicles
they can’t afford.

With the nature of California,
paradox or conundrum,
a constant battle.

 

APRIL 2, 2015

 

IMG_3055

 

Thirty days ago we hoped
for a better spring,
for clouds to rain us
back to normal
as we looked down
Ridenhour Canyon
to Dry Creek Road—
to the orchards
of Lemon Cove.

Hills now brittle and brown,
last year’s dead oak skeletons
have company, naked
as the Kaweahs—tilted
granite rock without snow.

Corporate Ag without water
drills wells to hell—
spending billions
into the Pleistocene
to hasten the conclusion
of farming the San Joaquin.

We had hoped for a better spring,
another month of rain and green,
creeks and rivers overflowing,
flooding Valley towns.

 

ON THE SEMI-ARID EDGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The big dogs are drilling deeper,
pumping the last of a million years
of underground water, each river

dammed into furrows to farm
the empty Laguna de Tache.
Sixty years ago, when red lights

stopped in every railroad town,
colorful cornucopias spilled
from billboards onto Highway 99

bragging fruit or vegetable capitals
of another world, and huge Big Oranges
squeezed juice every ten miles.

On the semi-arid edge of change,
we beg for rain and dream of floods
to take this Valley back in time.

 

                    *     *     *

 

1876 Tulare County Map

Wiki: Laguna de Tache, Tulare Lake

 

 

FARMING THE FUTURE

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The wells run deeper now
past the Pleistocene and into salt
at half a million bucks a pop
for the last of the water
as the Valley collapses
under the weight
of farming investors
for the moment
leaving Mom and Pop
and forty acres
high and dry
with one last roll
for agribusiness—
one last extraction
from a thirsty future.

No dirt farmers left
to turn the earth,
make sweet love
with furrows
and pruning sheers
for a crop to harvest,
wobbly wagon loads
to railroad towns
grown bright and urban
in a couple of lifetimes
farming the future.