Tag Archives: winter


Dark morning chill stirs the flesh
to welcome winter waiting
for flaming tongues 
to lick between
dry Manzanita branches
igniting Blue oak 
in the woodstove’s glow.
I recall storms, the floods
and endless downpours,
creek too high to cross
for thirty days and pray
for anything wet enough
to start the grass
for cows and calves—
for my sanity, something
akin to normal
in these crazy days
of politics and pandemic—
something to trust 
as right as rain—
something to believe in.





High cold wet fog after rain
puts a lid on summer’s cauldron
earth wet to rock, each crease
leaks rivulets into the canyon
to join a muddy creek.

Curiosity burns in his belly,
lone winter coyote edging closer
by different approaches
                    mid-day or night—
                    dogs hold him at bay
                    until he leaves the edge
                    of our territory.

Young downstream cowboys try
clay flat, pickup, gooseneck
just inside the gate, diggings
piled behind the drive wheels
as I pass by.
                    Twenty years ago
                    I’d have stopped to help
                    got stuck
                    and they learn nothing.
                    Two hours back from town
                    with a burn permit,
                    they’re hooking up
                    on muddy asphalt.

High cold wet fog after rain
creek too high to cross
I clear my desk, bag years
of paper files for proof
                    of our busyness
                    for the burn pile:
                    dry summer prunings
                    up in smoke
                    lost in fog.






I awake with chain saw eyes
measuring fallen trees:

                                        to die of thirst,
                                        dividends of drought

thick torsos with loose bark,
little brush to stack

                                        to clear for grass,
                                        to cover quail from hawks—

stove wood to haul and split
to hold the cold at bay

                                        outside the door
                                        into chimney smoke

and they are beautiful
in death, limbs reaching up

                                        lengths cut clean
                                        with sharp eyes

like people to heaven
begging notice, a chance

                                        for purpose yet
                                        and I am looking,

measuring like a tailor
around burls and forks—

                                        old habits stumbling
                                        with weak knees

in and out of dreams
come wintertime.


February 10, 2016




Temperatures in the single digits, we left blowing snow outside Tonopah a week ago in Nevada’s Great Basin. Since we have gathered our last bunch of cows and calves to brand this morning to a forecast high of 76°. Here the hillsides are green, spattered with early patches of golden poppies and fiddleneck, as white popcorn flowers begin to creep up the lower slopes. The visual and mental contrasts from Elko to Dry Creek are startling, two different worlds either side of the Great Western Divide within a week’s time.






Sunday evening, pickup loads of snow
file down the road to town: snowmen
for Visalia, Exeter, Farmersville front yards

to melt and soak into drought-brown lawns
no one’s mowed in years—a hurried
shortcut from mountains to Valley

upon a crumbling blacktop channel—
water that these oaks and sycamores
see only as lumps of white passing at fifty.

The west and south slopes fill-in
with green, purple patches of frost-bitten
filaree that looked like bare dirt,

softly embrace us now as if we were cattle.
Too wet for work that waits outside,
we slowly release winters of urgency

camped at the door and ease into the
vaguely familiar—reacquaint ourselves
with mud and rain, with one another.






On the weather map,
a week of storms
four days out

turned down
to a heavy mist
to quell the flames

before the downpour,
wind and rain—
a tame disrobing

before a shower
of leaves that leave
the road between

barbed wire fences
full to the hubcaps
with bedclothes.