Bear kill on deer hunt

Talk softly to the Bear
in his dying, apologize
profusely–commend him
his courage as he stood
before you–stood! mind you
stood upright as you
before his death,
your own self,
you who pulled the trigger
and sent the bullet
meant for venison
that ripped out his throat,
five yards from your own.

Talk softly to the Bear
in his dying, apologize
remorsefully, commend him
his life as connected
to your own
& from your perspective
in a lasting way,
for he would have killed you
or left many scars.

Talk softly to the Bear
in his dying, apologize
with wry humor
make a fine rug of his brown hide,
commend him his courage of life & spirit,
every time you walk by;
but disparage his intellect,
tell him he should have kept
running from your partner
who stumbled through
the manzanita brush patch
that was his hiding place
with an unloaded gun.

Talk softly to the Bear
in his dying, apologize
sincerely, commend him
his spirit–send it back
to where it came,
as he lays next to
the knic-ki-knick leaves,
know the sound he makes..,
“UHHNNNUUUUUUU!”
Remember this all your life.

Oh My God!

My God lives, and lives
Eternally, untouched by blemish, & across time between past & present,
My living God outside Creator of time and space
Lord of my life keeps me beside
Still waters of His own breast
Dew dropped sweet smelling
Aroma of the just about to rain summer cloud coming soon like,
& to me always….
He is lifting up my soul amidst all
That will fail, my God and Lord
Of my life lives apart from a back drop
of false certainty, lives brighter than shining
Metal of commerce & moves
Fulcrum of universal sprawl unconcerned
By the mere motor freight..
Of an Atlas rocket, my God’s mighty
Hand is on the back of enemies,
He lifts up my friends, & makes enemies friends, my God lives in
Surety of my own life,
Finally grasped, at the lofty position I fall
On my knees, bowing head, knowing worship
& utter insignificance of self, though juxtaposed to Your love
Lifts back up turns, round & I see..
Here there are riches in poverty, & meanness in prosperity
Thankfully, now this is turned upside down
Because of our daily bread,
On earth as in Heaven & hovering
Beside an estate of evil in residence,
a side show.. really
& then turning again to see power in the seemingly
Ineffectual stillness of a quiet dawn,
Love behind the giving way of hate,
Oh, my God, personal.. and there, my Lord, Christ Jesus
Who drug His cross, who heard,
“Where is his God now…why didn’t He…
“Get a home in the Jerusalem suburbs, “or, “build up
his fathers business, so much talent wasted?”
and. “He coulda retired in Capernaum, had a couple of boats,”
or, “Why-didn’t-he-just-take-care-of-his-mother?”
my God sweet loving victorious failure to reach this material world–as it sees itself
Lord, two thousand years of sorrow & faith, pulling
Up the dying , pulling up & hoping the hopeless, straightening crooked paths..
reaching out in Love, & Life & Word to lift us to abundant life.. as
An eternal priceless gift…a secret revealed so simple,
So complex—you must understand I-am-the-richest-of-men-because
this salvation changed all the rules in space and time!

Demoiselle

In the last part of that time of dusk
when shadows meet the first departure of light.
over three fingers of the river
a Great Blue Heron performed an aerial pirouette.

Down with wisped blue gray feathers braking air
and into one side of a small island,
a fan of tail, a wing dipping
and to the other side,
where eddies and small pools
held more frogs and minnows,
only to see a man fly casting and then
beat wings hard, around and again upward
through reddened light–down river.

That moment, bare, infinite,
myself standing in sand,
exchanging cigarettes and amenities
with another fisherman,
whose back is turned upstream
to the sound of faster water
I could not call his attention to this sight
and continued our conversation, with the sound
of river as chorus–I remembered the long legs
of a woman I’d met the night before, as
gray blue wings passed
slow and noiseless over our heads.

If I look out the window

Blonde, sunglasses
Dark suited miniskirt
Large belt
w/tight beige pants
Could be a model..
Standing at an outside table
Of this coffee house
If I look out the window
From drinking my joe
I can’t see anything else but her
Talking through her cell phone device
Clipped in her ear, just barely perceptible
Adamant, using both hands
For expression, articulate
It seems, making points,
Striding around a little round table
& between chairs
As if a stage
& this was performance.
This is all normal now..
Less than twenty years ago
This would have been observed
As psychotic behavior,
Talking to someone who is
Obviously not there & not holding a phone,
Or rehearsing a play
My friends (some of them)
Think the same of me
When I pray…

Two voices

Two voices from a campfire
Long ago–or how,
According to Stumbling Bear, the dog
Animal came to run w/man

“Let us go kill this dog
animal/use his fur &
eat of his meat

we can trap him
with snares
for he is greedy
for offal from the kill

his fur is thick &
sticks tight to
the pelt.”

“No! He has keen
eyes of a hunter,
cares for his family
& is loyal to his mate,
he can smell the stag
two mountains away

Let us wait to
talk to him &
his wife, boast of
our kill, for this
year is very full

We will ask them
to run w/us, they
can smell out game,
eat their fill of gut
& then stay close

In the winter
when the herds are gone, then we can use their fur
& eat their tender children.”

After the Hull Mountain Fire

That third summer after the Hull Mountain Fire
I picked black-cap raspberries with my youngest son
Where my upper cabin had been..
& as he was five —we made pie..
Half dozen pies if my memory is right
& even if it is not I do remember
A sweetest of wild tart taste to those lightly sugared pies
We made in my propane oven late in August, &
Shared with friends & me having survived
Two years of single fatherhood,
Adept at answering all
Questions with not all the facts
Told to this child
Amid fireweed, blowing white seed
For a light purpled white breeze
From that still black landscape where fire had burned
& we were at the upper cabin site where I wrote..
Where the black-cap raspberries had vined into profusion &
Were delivering black goodness one-by-one
Into my stainless steel pail & my son was happy,
Two years before this afternoon
He’d put his cherub three year-old face into his small hands
Drowned with tears &
behind our house he sobbed, “I have lost my family!”
One year before that day,
I tended the fire line I built with my oldest son;
Before the fire hit us–when it did
It burned slowly downhill from the box canyon
Over the ridge where much differently it set pine needles, in
Hundred foot high tops of old growth
Ponderosa Pine, curled to the exact direction this
Hundred twenty foot conflagration blast furnace
Came out of the canyon & spilled downhill
Creeping & calming to a twenty foot wall of flame,
Half mile from the ridge & thirty feet from my back door,
Three years afterwards you could still see in tops of Ponderosa snags’
Black needles pointing the flames exact direction from
Hell of that day where,
After the fire line was complete around our home &
Having taken my family all to the valley below
To watch our mountain burn
By a swimming pool—fearful but safe..
I  came back to tend the fire line alone
Arriving pretty much as the fire did & taking
Comfort in this feat I then began to keep it that way
With a shovel until my good friend Graham
Evaded National Guard at the bottom of the hill
& drove up the three miles of bad road into
A forest fire to help me
Our fire-line held that night probably because
A Mexican fire crew found us at two in the morning,
& relieved our aching backs
& I made them all heavily sugared coffee
& as they tended the line,
A burning tree fell on the house at three A.M.
Three of them cut it away with axes
At smoking dawn, I remember talking
With their foreman about the beaches of Nayarit..
San Francisco, lo de Marco & La Penita de Jaltembre,
We saved the lower cabin which was our home;
It did not burn that night; I lost the upper cabin.
This fire had turned a corner like an angry police car
& burned back uphill consuming its red wood deck & its
Windows blew out on the side hill as
Fire & 5000 acres of burning forest had
Melted my cast iron wood cook-stove
Into a sway-back hulk from a greater furnace
Than itself & it is now a rusted artifact twenty feet
From the black-cap berry vines
I got pies from that day..
Fire took the life of a tractor operator a day after
It took my cabin
& one year from the fire I was divorcing..
& for a time
I raged like a hundred-foot blaze.

First Contact

complex
the scion of ourselves
together,
Jesus coming in a leather jacket,
love being binding truth
whatall & why not w/ everything
connected to everything else
the small joke being incessantly
onus, the sleepers, compartmentalists,
bureaucrats, casual buddhists, fundamentalists,
clients, zombiebodies in the unemployment line,
the men’s business breakfast, all up
& down cannery row
save the faithful @ mass
but all equally guiltily asleep
in the church, the chapel, the synagogue, the mosque,
the buddha boy’s temple
& everywhere else & the numbers
click & tabulate & go ’round,
as the gas pump goes ’round
there’s been a lot of hands reaching up
there’s been only one reaching down
& the all in all being
accounted for in an extraterrestrial plexus
of where we’ve been
where we’re going
& what we shall be …or
or cease to be
unless there is acknowledgedFirst Contact

this abundant life

I can no longer call them homeless, not because they aren’t,
I’m not relegating them to the planet, nation, community,
or under an overpass, card board box, tent in blackberry bushes, & not because
I’ve seen families living in Africa with as much—or much less..

I can no longer call them homeless
I chose to call them Rotarian
that we may work for relief of especial needs
of others out of good will
see plight, acknowledge pain, knowing
we all need four walls for this abundant life

One of them told me, “I stopped being able to live indoors about 20 years ago.
Don’t know what it is, I do alright..,” he said, as I dropped him off
to go under his favorite Oregon freeway bridge,
“except sometimes in winter I worry about losing my toes.”

I know a preacher who regularly sits among them
rarely preaching Jesus, because he often finds Him there,
but instead buys them cigarettes, gives clothes & pocket-money for cheap wine,
brings them food, or a tent when he knows they would use it
all to relieve pain, prays with them when they ask,
directs them to missions & shelters if they don’t know,
takes them to the emergency room if they need to go.

Rotarian’s in our midst, a few of them better than we,
when living a fast paced life in conceit..
some of them are insane, some of them thieves,
all have had something stolen,
many without learned skill of hygiene this
left behind with four walls of normal life,
they wheel on, on bikes, grocery carts in whining dull roar of traffic,
all of our pain and bliss is somehow connected,
moments of delirious uplifting sunshine
& anguished biting cold, moving south, a hitch-hike,
a protected end of a grain car
makes trek a possibility, peer passed on whispered knowledge
of the “best missions” with good food &
where they will not shame you

This past Christmas morning I saw two
in back of my motels’ outside wall, under eve, arms
& legs entwined for warmth,
but yet sparkling with frost,
asleep, on crisp north California December asphalt

I know another preacher who gives them clean socks
washes their feet.. if they will let him.. washes
them lovingly in warm water, & spreads
antibiotics over sores & soles
while he shares the Gospel…

I can no longer call them homeless,
these Rotarian who sometimes righteously rage at being killed
& destroyed beneath this crushing wheel.

Descent

she handed it to me
then I dunno,
how I did it—knew I shouldn’t
but I just sliced me a slice
of fruit w/ the ol’ barlow knife
while I was looking at a coiled up snake,
who’d been talking to my woman,

& then first thing I know,
I was making moonshine
Skip & go naked foolin’ round til waay
after midnight every-night
everything seemed clear for a while,
but trouble was I ended up havin’-to-get-a-job, plus
plow the farm & then the woman left
& I had to take care of the kids too,
& keepin’ the house from fallen apart..

no more huntn’ & fishin’
just makin’ mortgage payments
for a farm I was given free and clear
long ago before the bank was even a notion

seems like there was a time
when there was just the plants & animals
& clear blue sky, white clouds
& the low and high blue flint hills
& the woman had really just been apart of me
that couldn’t no more leave
than I could say anything bad about anything
& hav’n kids didn’t involve them growing up
& killing each other
& back then I don’t ever remember
screaming in the middle of the night either….

Caught up in the Air

A dozen or more three hundred year old black oaks spread
over the top of the south side hill of our farm
a two acre pasture on top &
our house sat on the edge and overlooked a small
twenty acre valley bottom with a creek & across it
was a similar hill of Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir
to complete the farms north edge as a cross section
of a small valley running from our house south/north

One afternoon after school when I was 14
I walked out through the oaks to find my Grandfather
a man in his early eighties, he had turned the
place into a farm in only about four years

It was his son’s farm who owned a business
in town and twenty miles away, my grandfather had
used his own money, to build a lambing shed, then
chicken coops, then a substantial barn, and a half acre
garden down by the creek that was irrigated
by a pump and sprinkler and we all ate
very well and the tractor was an important tool

Every day in his sweat stained straw
cowboy hat he was on his son’s Ford 8N tractor
to the garden, the sheep shed, the creek,
& when I went looking for him my radar
was set for the Ford tractor

The tractor was the 20 team of mules
he used to own when he was
a successful farmer on the Great Plains
& he had started as a cowboy breaking horses for a living
& was at the door of change from horse drawn everything
to tractors, & power from oil
that began to feed the world
shortly before, banks and the great depression
ended all that for him

For our little farm, the tractor plowed, the tractor fertilized, the tractor planted,
the tractor cut hay, the tractor raked hay, and the tractor bailed hay
the tractor hauled hay, the tractor mixed cement,
the tractor toted injured animals,

I found him sitting on a 5 gallon bucket
his hat on his knee & embarrassment on his face
a look I’d never seen before from
the most affable man I’d ever known
“Oh Jimmy,” he sighed, “You have to do something for me,”

He had left the Ford tractor out of gear and did
not set the brake while he got off to do some chore &
the 8N had rolled down the hill…

The hill had about a 70 percent slope
& almost a straight drop got it going at such a high rate of
speed that when it hit the bottom it actually bounced
over a fence at the bottom of the hill and while airborne
hit the pasture & bounded over another small
hill by the apple trees and rolled out but not over
into the fresh green pasture;
beside the still slough where bull frogs were
letting go in their slow & late afternoon jug-a-rums
& I by his narrative, I was now looking down wide eyed overthe hill
& out to where, yes in the green pasture—thered tractor was sitting motionless

“I’d like you to go down there,” he said pointing but looking away, “and if there is nothing
wrong with it, drive the tractor back up here and never-tell-my-son-that-this-ever-happened.”

I went over the top of this steep hill side amazed & imagining again
the trajectory and the perfect angle of descent that kept
the 8N from turning over and fully expected something broken
as his narrative told of a loud noise when it hit
the bottom of the hill, before it leapt the fence

& yes, I was wishing I’d seen it happen, but
when I got to it I could not see anything broken & I touched
the button starter next to the gear shift,
it fired up and I drove it back up the 100 year old
road bed that was at one time the road from Medford
to Prospect, that now let us take a long gentle slope up
and down to our house and farm, &
he was relieved & I never told his son of the driverless 8N’s wild ride

Another afternoon when I was 17, I found him on the
concrete floor of the barn having fallen and broken
his hip while tending an animal, I gently got him
In the carry-all I attached to the back of the tractor
& very slowly got him to the house, before dark where
I called and we waited for an ambulance, to come twenty miles from town
& they operated & pinned his hip
& told him he’d never walk again.

Before he left the hospital he told me that was bullshit
and he’d be walking on a plane to fly to Kansas, as he was determined not
to die in Oregon as he thought they might bury him there,
& he mended, in a hospital bed in our living room, started out on crutches
& progressed to a walker, & then two canes & then to one

That next fall I and a neighbor killed three nice bucks
across the creek where I knew they could be waylaid
& I drove them back draped over the tractor
up the old Prospect road past our house where
my grandfather was standing on the back patio watching
us return & he raised one of his canes
and brandished it in the air, as we drove past.

That next spring I accompanied him to the
airport and saw him walk with one cane up onto a 727
& as he got to the door he turned around
& waved his Stetson hat down at me on the tarmac,
& then slowly turned around in his cowboy boots
& entered the jet to be caught up in the air & I never saw him again.