Don’t Forget the

Don’t forget the mountains.  Nor the glow on them 
as a desert’s winter sunset unfolds in the west,
the mountains in the north latching on to all that light.  
Warm, fibrous, resinous—cactuslight.  
Altitudinous, the light of late bird activity, 
of irrigation drip lines; light that skims golf course greens, 
pools, and patios; light by which the bobcat
begins her night of scratch and claw;
light that seems to brake the turn of the Earth
before ceding to the dark once more, 
letting loose squadrons of javelina, bands of coyote, 
wily packrats, and scores of Sonoran moths and bats.  
But this is light that will return, soon enough, 
to climb the tall saguaro of morning.


The link to the poem's page is here...

Time’s Beach

Lunch rooms
in old department stores. Or
on the ground floor
of the office building downtown
where my pediatrician practiced
upstairs, that sterile waiting room,
booster shots, dropping my pants
so I could pass the physical but then
lunch with my mom in the bustling
café downstairs, like something
from the fifties, the glamor of my
own personal history, a café that
must be decades gone, its existence
now inexplicable, part of the long
beach of time that will somehow
also include the rest of this, my
unraveling life


Note: This was among four of my poems published in February at Parhelion, an online literary magazine. You can see all four poems by following this link. I also wrote a short essay about my writing process to accompany the poems. Poems by other writers published in the same issue, along with an incredible painting of a farmhouse, can be found here. Thanks again to Parhelion for including my work on their site.


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Beckon Brush

A single bract
With a nutlet at its base

A flowering branch

A beech with its smooth gray bark

“It was more or less darkly mottled.”

Every vein ended in a tooth

It sent up suckers, so you see
Large trees were often surrounded
By little ones

Deer tiptoed at the margins
Browsing on coppice growth

Deer, most evenings
At the forest edge


Poem page...

Flock Like a Nuisance

In the gloam,
mirror on mirror,
shot glass memories.

Wild turkey, you’re a dinosaur.
Subtle grouse, you’re the heart.
New bird, I’ll never know you.

Sixty-six million years ago—
How long ago was that
In technology years?  In robot seconds?
In the exhaust of wingbeats
Thudding like clickbait
Into the online brilliance
Of original flight?

Long live the crow,
Who abstains from all of us,
Who flocks like a nuisance
Until none of us is around
To scorn him.


Note: This was among four of my poems published last month at Parhelion, an online literary magazine. You can see all four poems by following this link. I also wrote a short essay about my writing process to accompany the poems. Poems by other writers published in the same issue, along with an incredible painting of a farmhouse, can be found here. Thanks again to Parhelion for including my work on their site.


Notes from the Invasion

1

Limited weapons, allies needed, where’s NATO?
Martial law, severe sanctions, “we don’t afraid of them.”

Sand bags and camouflage, separatist troops, conflict building.
Disrupted supplies, industrial metals and other commodities.

Interlinked energy, dependent demand. Hard assets up, soft ones down.
Leverage.  Leverage the Saudis.  You got Russia in your head.

See how Libya went?  Ukrainian wheat shipments fell twice over,
the stomach of the Middle East left growling.

It’s the Donbas, dumbass.  The president is a comedian.
They’ve been fighting in the east for eight years now.

Full-fledged operations in the Black Sea.  
Amphibious landing in Odessa,
and I don’t mean Texas.  

Shoot down the drones...


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To the Dogs

1

A couple of dogs were here yesterday when I arrived, and they have stuck around.  

I have been giving them food, so I can’t be too surprised that they have stayed.  I had an old can of soft food stashed away on the upper shelf of the corner kitchen cabinet.  It didn’t look too bad; they ate it.  They’ve also gotten a few of the heart-shaped Newman’s-brand treats, which are basically doggie biscuits.  And I’ve given them some kibble I had tucked away in a mouse-proof bucket back in the main bedroom here at Farm, dateline Traderight, MO.

I’ll give them what food I have, for as long as they are here, and then I’ll restock with some fresh food when I return.  Whether the new inventory will be for these two on some later visit or for my own dog Hugo or for some other rando dogs that might appear somewhere down the road, who knows?

They slept out front last night.  They growled and barked a few times.  Somewhere around one or two in the morning they woke me with barking and I had to pee anyway so I went outside.  Even before I stepped out the front door I could smell something dank and rich and garlicky, a very deep and funky body odor let loose into the wild.  Skunk.  There was no doubt about it.  Like a bomb had been released...


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Founding Feathers

“A lot of texts these days.”

“Yeah.  I was thinking.  What messages did we used to send that didn’t contain text?”

“Smoke signals.”

“Yes.  Can you imagine sending a smoke signal today?  From one end of a city to another?  From Minneapolis to St Paul?”

“There are a lot of places where it could still work.”

“Not in cities.”

“Certainly not.  But from one farm to another.  Along some trails.  In the desert.”

“What do you burn in a desert?”

“A desiccated cactus will bank a fire for days.”

“What about hieroglyphs?”

“Were they sent?”

“Through time.”

“That’s… a stretch.”

“They were composed by hand and contained or referred to a specific language.  How do we know they weren’t meant to convey information into the future?”

“I think they were pretty close to being text though.”

“How about Morse code?”

“Hmm—yes.  Only audible.  Not a text but...”


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River Flint

Look at how red that star is.  Oh, I know, my pillowcase was soaking wet.  Did you just text me?  I never use the hand dryer.  You know that door makes a lot of noise when it bangs shut, right?  I don’t have any idea what time it is.  The insects are happy.  I can see Orion’s belt now.  Can you imagine coming out here before the road was paved?  I don’t know if those people are just getting up or if they never even went to sleep.  The river’s gonna feel good tomorrow.  Why do you have that rubber band around your wrist?  It is not possible to drink enough water.  Is your dog dreaming in his sleep?

***

Man, where’d you find all that kindling?  If you saw Orion’s belt that high above the horizon in the middle of September it had to be two a.m.  Yeah, I had to wear ear plugs.  Can kayaks leave a wake?  Something absconded with the chips last night.  What’s this spongy stuff?  That guy slept in his van.  I dreamt about box fans.  What time are they picking us up?  You can’t use that kind of pen on these notebooks.  If it rains on your birthday that’s good luck, right?  Those look like chigger bites to me.  Almost nobody was wearing a mask.  If you saw a reddish star that bright it was probably just Mars.  It’ll go back up eventually.  That fire’s going good now.  Of course I brushed my teeth.  Did you hear those ducks going at it in the middle of the night?  Well, I’m supposed to wear a biteguard.  It was worse inside the tent, believe me.  I gargle if I can.  Dogs actually shed a lot this time of the year.  The whole thing was so stupid.  Is he just going to keep going back and forth like that?  Oh, that’s a cute mask.  It’s amazing those things float. I don’t know, I think it’ll be fun.  That was definitely an owl.  What’s that movie where they all scramble like hell to get ready for the airport?  You’re gonna have to get somebody back out here to take some photos.  Hey, how easy is it to tear these things in two?  Holler if you want a muffin.  Did water get in there?  Well, I was looking for my headlamp but it was one of those things where I needed my headlamp to find it.  I’m in fine fiddle with an hour to spare.  Those clouds do look pretty thick over there.  I always travel with a couple of little soaps.  Eh, I’ll sleep on the river...  


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The Case of the Missing Steak

But then a second Yoakum brother paid a visit.  This was Junior, the youngest, veteran of the Navy, pulling up the drive in an all-terrain buggy with his wife Ginger in the passenger seat and two hunting dogs in tow.  

I had never met Jr before.  He lives not far away.  We got to talking.  He had some questions for me.  He wanted to know about the house.  Does it have running water?  Yes, I said, but the toilet is not currently hooked up.  Is there any air conditioning, a window unit? asked Ginger.  Negative on that.  Just a box fan, I said.  

Jr remarked on the clearing I’ve been working on these last few years.  He even noted how the shed had been cleaned up, part of it anyway.  He had memories of Willy Lee, who lived in this house in the middle of the last century, who farmed this land.  Jr identified that big hulk of rusting metal in the pasture near the barn as a wheat combine.  A thresher.  My mom’s dad was a wheat farmer, he would have known that hunk of rust was a thresher.  On a recent visit, my uncle Vernon had alerted me to an article outlining the history of my grandfather's threshing circle in the Okawville Times.  I wondered about the viability of growing wheat on this rocky terrain but I guess old Willy Lee had it figured out well enough...


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Three Persimmons

Today I ate three small, round, plump persimmons.  They were of an orange hue, tasting somewhat sweet, a little juicy.  Fleshy.  I didn’t know much about persimmons until recently.  Probably I ate one or two somewhere along the line but when and where and why I cannot say.  These persimmons were from a stately tree with silver-green leaves that stands out now in the north end of the cattle pasture at a place I call Farm, a plot of sixty acres of mixed pasture, scrub, and hardwood forest in eastern Miller County, Missouri.  

This past winter I set out to begin relieving this land of the burden, of the scourge of eastern redcedar infestation.  These cedar trees, which aren’t actually cedars at all but a type of juniper that grows as a tree, grow at a quickened pace.  With speed and numbers on their side, a gang of cedars will take over just about any landscape, encircling older and taller trees, choking them out, robbing them of water and other resources...  


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