Tag Archives: work





We had water enough for play in furrows
with scraps of wood, leaves for sails,
regattas on rivers pumped from underground.

All the magic that children take for granted
swirled to the hum of electricity, twenty-horse
pumps like Buddhas squat in orchard rows

my father farmed for wagonloads of fruit
ripe for the rail, packed by women’s hands
for the road on diesel trucks to distant places.

His silhouette crosses deep within vineyard rows,
early morning, late afternoon, hoe in hand—
his pirate’s cutlass, swashbuckling open-topped

overshoes—checking water, irrigating grapes
at seventy, or so I think at sixty-eight, knowing
now what drew him to the earth he farmed.






It’s not about you—
and not about to change
the weather or politics.

You are helpless,
at the mercy of the swirl
of elements colliding,

ricochets and explosions,
occasional clear views
of space and landscape

that keep you leaning forward
into the sun, your shadow cast
upon a fading track of small

accomplishment. After a rain
every tree frog sings
as if spring depended on it.






                        — I’ll get there and back
                         and just for a second
                         maybe play.
                                 – Gary Snyder (“Sunday”)

The wood desk waits
beneath the bound
and unbound scraps

of poetry,
manila folders stacked
beneath unopened mail—

the ash and dust
of years anticipate
an inside job.

Shop repairs
count passing storm fronts
upon the roof,

want to work,
to be useful
after a rainy day.

So much saved,
all beckoning
can wait.

First, we must graze
these green grass hills—
maybe play.


Present and Accounted For




It’s been hard for me to accept that I’ve worn my body out, always able to do any job on the ranch, feeling secure with the strength of my arms, back and legs. I’ve been lucky, but my knees, among other things, are gone. In the past 45 years, I’ve probably handled, loaded and fed, 15,000 tons of hay with Robbin’s help, but looking back, it was the 500 tons in 2013 that did the real damage.

It’s been a blessing having Lee Loverin and Terri Blanke feed for the past two seasons, as well as fix and build fence, help gather and work our cattle. They know the ranch and our routine and take it seriously.

Cropped and shot with a Canon 100-400mm zoom, I should have known the girls were separately counting cows and calves to make sure everyone was present and accounted for—it’s part of our job when we feed. But at 300 yards away, I took the photo for a different aesthetic. With the photo enlarged, imagine my pride, and my relief, knowing the girls are getting the job done right, and that the ranch can get along fine without me being a part of every single thing. Now that’s a treat.


Weekly Photo Challenge (2): “Treat”






In the name of convenience
we deaden our senses
far from the basic elements
from which life rises
from this dusty, musty earth—

lost touch with old ways
of believing and seeing things
intrinsic to the spirit.
Yet we acquiesce to custom
and anonymity, bow

to technology more fallible
than a man’s word, or
become slaves and addicts
to selfish notions
where the lazy work the hardest.

                                       for Terri






Whoever you are,
we work for you,
for the future of the wild,

for cows planting and harvesting
grass, for the easy burger
drive-thru, your leather shoes

and the steak on your plate.
You pay us once a year
when the calves are fat,

before the feedlot
and the killer plant,
we work for you

everyday of the week—
whoever you are,
we work for you.







We don’t talk about
the drought, anymore:
four years dry,

we have adapted
and survived our fears—
scratched for water,

sold half our cows—
but ready for storms
to raise some more.



Perhaps we are cursed
to stay busy, put our shoulders
to the rock, embrace it—

move the planet
with small accomplishments,
little marks never permanent

that become our joy:
like new fence
guitar string tight

keeps neighbors strong,
picked by the wind
to play its song.






Never a straight line, we bend
with the channel of the creek
with or without water, jobs

shouting at every turn, begging
for attention. I love it now,
seasoned and with purpose,

place after place to pour my soul,
to get it right. Chances are
my fence repairs will outlast me,

gates will swing, troughs hold water
out of respect for the ground—
for the cattle and those around me.

Never a straight line, cows cut trails
on perfect grades, leave soft dust
to plod tomorrow without thinking,

make beds in shade for generations
they will never know. In the end
it becomes our nature to make

living easier on the uneven,
on the unpredictable and the harsh
that will eventually absorb us.

Chances are, no one will notice,
no applause for our best effort—
only the knowing a job well done.



WPC(2) — “Doors”






I never see her leave
the loose nest of twigs
behind the cactus spines—

long tail feathers up,
eye to the outside perched
a week or more

near the water trough
while he patrols barn
and pasture, garden, yard.

The car’s shiny wheels
spend the night in the shop—
polished aluminum spokes

reflecting distortions
between each beak attack
gone from their spot

and he is confused and lost
without purpose,
without a job at dawn

searching in circles
for the foe
who drew no blood.