There is no blank sheet—
no white, unblemished page
on which to letter words
together, even in the highlands.
Once when I was there in awe
and almost nothing, irrelevant
but to breathe and drink from streams
of melting snow off peaks
like granite teeth sunk into the blue,
blue sky, lost in my insignificance—
the paper I carried from the world
below was smudged and dirty.
So it is with we humans, never free,
never clean enough to pen
the perfect words without shadows,
without darkness leaking starlight.
Outside, early summer heat stifles
the mind, bakes a hard crust
upon the brain beneath straw lids—
eyes roll and detach within flashes
of white light, falling towards delirium:
I cannot breathe or see connections,
I cannot think, I cannot write.
Small comfort that I am not alone
within this fuzzy circumstance.
Harassed by a squadron kingbirds,
a Great Blue glides and lights
upon the gravel, stands tall
to claim any open space,
grounded for battle. All supposed
sentiments have escaped to shade,
gone north to cooler climes.
Summer in the San Joaquin,
a damn hard time to write.
What comes of words planted
from a poor harvest
but strong seed to root between
the cracks of rocks gathering
every bit of rain to fruit
again and again. Listen
to the defiant sound they make:
a crop of clashing cymbals
before they die and blow away
to a better place.
An iffy eternity at best,
but let them go, anyway.
Sulphur – December 11, 2014
No father or mother left to leave
a Christmas gift under the tree—
even the child in us understands.
An ever-ready substitute, the old
Hereford bull plods along the fence
looking past the asphalt, gutturally
conversing with the neighbor’s
registered Angus mothers
while his younger brethren work
the steep brush and rock,
gather families in the wild
from last year’s seed.
Kept another year, just in case
someone gets hurt, we become
the extras for the gods—
walk the sidelines
lending words to the old songs
‘lest the world forgets
the melodies of Christmas
when it rains, or snows low
leaving only grass under trees.
Posted in Photographs, Poems 2014, Ranch Journal
Tagged Blue Oak, bulls, Calves, Christmas, cows, grass, Greasy Creek, old songs, photographs, poetry, rain, snow, Sulphur Peak, weather, writing