Oregon Dirt Farm

Our creek was about a half- mile
from its entrance to the River
an adjacent ranch pumped water
from a dam it made thirty feet
from our fence & the creek backed
up each summer to flood a feeder
ditch to a pump that rerouted the tributary
over 500 acres, lifted the water from a
Massive electric pump & poured water
on dry desert ground to irrigate alfalfa,
Deep growing legumes, & we
Leased this ranch one year while the land
Changed owners, I cut hay, raked hay, bucked
Bales of hay & we sold nearly all of it in massive tight
Stacks, where other small farms would come &
Buy this one year boon that we’d come by, in this process
I had a free run of 500 acres that was liberating at 15,
having been confined to 20 before that time, the
River became my own, with four good riffles & a salmon hole
There were pear trees & a pond that had two foot trout
That produced one every other cast, I worked all summer
& helped build a shop and earned at the end of the summer
Twenty dollars, & was pleased to get it & buy a cheap military surplus
Deer rifle, & it dawned on me decades later, that I was really some sort
Of bond slave, but I never had a thought of that as
Every hot afternoon on a tractor, & working with my
Grandfather, real farming seemed to me to be the greatest adventure
Of my life, it was the last serious farming my grandfather did
& before the depression he had owned a similar spread,
& the money financed good things of which I have no recollection
I do remember sense of the wealth of the earth,
& the smell of new mown hay and the dust of the harrow before we planted oats
I remember taking a friend of mine, a punk just moved up from L.A.
To the river & pointing out quick sand & watching him swagger
Out onto it & tell me I was full of it & when he began to
Jump up & down I saw him sink to his armpits,
& I pulled him out laughing hard, & that
Summer was probably the best summer of my life up to then
Big farm meals, morning, noon & evening hard work but plenty
Of time to do wild things between the haying and the harvest
When the owner came the next year their gentrified ways took over
But they let me and no others, still have the run of the place except
I couldn’t shoot their deer, & I made good use of the riffles & could
Hunt ducks off the far pond, where the trout, took dry flies
& spinners every evening, I saw a world expand & purpose &
Our 20 acres had been sufficient for subsistence but that summer
My Grandfather & my uncle and I sweated for money, I had no notion of
Other than the twenty dollar rifle,
that killed big black tail bucks,& my friend who ignored the quicksand warning,
became a heroin addict in 1972, & current ranch owners who are not gentry
shot a neighbor kid with rock salt–for fishing in their pond.

Not so, Sad Song

Long skinny
poems with
two word
Lines, long
skinny women
w/legs entwined

Young hippie
mamma’s w/
braided armpit
hair, became old
hippie mama’s
that just
don’t care

There was
a season
for both
& more,

Pill popper &
alcoholic’s duress,
living in bars but
under stress,

Long skinny
poems with
two word
lines, give it
up now

To narrative
tales, dressed w/
long skinny
women, gone
down wrong
roads white lines &
junkies sing
sad &
baleful songs

The River done
booked this
all away,
as flotsam &
downriver, & long gone
to stay

 

Song

Lupine purple lupine & deep
Mountain blue on right
Lupine blue, blue lupine
& Blue then turns white
Chaparral down in Mule Creek on
Left & the sliding rocks betray
A coyote after, fawns
& their spring time slow
Lupine purple lupine
White ones now grow
Uphill trail gives it up to a saddle back
& Lupine blue & white all the way

300 years

Acorn woodpeckers zoomed between the oaks
Ka k aka akaing to their machine gun ridden hidey holes
On trees, snags in a dead limb & a power pole, & sometimes
Under the eaves of our house,
Colonial birds these in
Oak trees, birds — a 100 or more in all
& three breeding pairs four at most,
On the Oregon side-hill near a 20 acre farm black&white
Black & white red heads Ka k aka ak kaing zooming  up & down between
The farm house, the guest house & the barn,
& a crack of a  twenty-two &  a
Miss & the second shot tumbles the little flying cop car
out of the tree & out of the sky, with iron peep sights, &
The boy’s been given charge— “kill ‘em all,” he said,
“They’re drilling holes in our house!” it was not too
Serious, but a bird or two a week fell, examined then tossed aside
Years later in text book he read of their nature with all
Breeding pairs when killed or predated, became new breeding pairs & all would
Become breeding pairs if need be, for a steady population
& this was the answer to the fact that the birds never went a way,
While the oaks were there spreading out
Over the house the hillside & making those summers cool when it was
Hot, and the wood peckers flew, and bred and laid eggs
In their hidey holes, high in oaks where a little rot could
Be hollowed out in a spring time banging sound &
With the heads sticking out, Ka k aka ak kaing
& this small misunderstanding seemed to make
No less harmony on the hill, with our sheep, & steers
& a ground squirrel killing border collie, but
Now I look on Google Earth & see the oaks are gone —all of them
The cedars were taken out 25 years ago, &
I know now the woodpeckers have finally departed, &
I haven’t been back
Since these new people fell the cedars—I’m no druid
But the oaks were there three hundred years,
& the woodpeckers had a colony for at least that long
& though it’s perhaps the worst thing I could think of to say, but
To have them back, I would stay—300 years

In a Grove by the River

In a grove by the river
Landlord walks, counting
First fruits six months out &

Summons pruners to these rows, &
Directs water from this
River to supplement the rain
Oversees the cutting, helps
Stack limbs & fires off
Bonfires while
Mist moistens up the air &
Smoke drifts past willow’s
At the water’s edge
Blue heron flies
Out from an eddy as the tractor
Loudly makes its turn

Now fruit will grow
In larger when harvest
Finally comes

Landlord walks on
River bank & surveys what
He’s done

St. Somebody’s

Not..
That hospitals
Are bad if you
Need one

I must admit
Other plans have
Not prevailed
But writing
This poem

Being better
Than the altrnative,
& if this is the last
One I’d recommend the
One before

Though this
Is no dark
Thing I’ve been
Pulled back before

A woman moans
From across the hall
From pain while their protocol
Can’t help she moans on & on
Nurses don’t want to bother Doctors
some do & care Clara Barton
Ministering Angels not stopping
To inquire who’s on the list
The rest is triage & a corporate dice roll
Save prayers of sisters, prayers of brothers,
Prayers of Fathers, prayers of Mothers.