Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Ones We Recognize

Once in awhile in strange, alien spots
Like ungodly crowded city saloons,
Or running to catch that last midnight flight,
Or swarming around metropolitan malls--
There will pass by your nose just the breath of a hint
And somehow you know, feel deep in your soul
That somewhere close by walks a one of your own.

Though she be far away in the midst of a crowd
Or perhaps he walks on the opposite street,
But you know, and you see, and your eyes will still meet,
For the stink of the sage, and horse sweat, and sky
All trail behind as easily known, and as easily seen
As the sparkle of air, the bawl of a calf,
Or the clean dirt smell of a rain.

While you may never speak, your psyches have spoke
In ways that talk quiet of home where it's empty--
That sing of a land full of grass and expanse.
You can mix with the herd, but you are still set apart
By unsayable things and intangible glints
Of time, and of space, and of things of the heart.

There through the crowd strolls a friend I don't know
Maybe we'll meet, and maybe we won't,
But we see and we know and our knowing is proud

And this feeling we share is almost as good as

...being back there.

Hancock Compliments

He could have said you're sweet as pie,
Or that you're prettier than pasture posies.
He could have said your company was precious, or twice as nice
As anything.

But no...none of that would say it good enough to suit
And shy, he struggled with emotions seeking the proper relevance--
'Midst contemplations of his boot he found it, and spoke it
Before it slipped away, or took a fright
And hid again.

The finest compliment that he could possibly imagine.
He hoped that she would realize that even so,
It still wasn't quite as much as he would like to say,

"You are a woman I'd be proud to ride beside,"
He said, "you remind me of a really fine
Hancock horse--
The kind that you can do anything astride,
The kind that's full of try."

And she, shy too, swelled up with pride inside
And couldn't speak, but knew exactly what he meant.
Went racing home to brag to Mother--
Comparing herself to the supple athleticism, the
Tenacity, the incomparable intelligence of the
Finest cow horses this country's ever

...Couldn't believe it when her Mom,
Kinda hurt her when her Mama
Listened to her breathless repetition
Of his wonderful Hancock comparison
And laughed.

Laughed and laughed and laughed "That's great!"

"Hancock horses...perfect wives,"
Dear mother laughed and cried,
"Hard-headed buckers tough to break, big in the hind end,
and mostly Ugly
In the head!"

The Dirge of the Cattle

In an ancient Irish text
The fearsome, warrior goddess
Aife's one son,
A boy born of mortal blood,
Fell in battle.

In honor of his passing
No calf in Ulster
Was let go to its mother
For the space of three days.

I read that and recalled weaning.
Heard the cattle in my mind.
Night and day, sleeping, waking,
Out there bawling.

I fitting.
A good cow country dirge
For the untimely death
Of a native son.

To the Gauchas of Salta Argentina

My sisters of Salta I know nothing of you,
But still I can see you sitting straight in your saddles
Cradled in sheepskin with black and red ponchos
Sweeping behind you beneath flat, jaunty hats.

They write that your country,
Brutal breast of the Andes rises out of the Pampas
in north Argentina. And they write that you fought
Fierce for your freedom, that you rode hot and wild
Along side of your gauchos in the war against Spain.

If I could but see you in your low, green montanas
On vast, lonesome estancias around caballos and vacas
Maybe feel...of your homemade riatas
I know that we would find much to speak of--

Like the prices of cattle, and the vagaries of lovers,
And how is it you make a criollo pingo
Spin light like a top, and turn on the length of a hide.

I would show you my King rope,
My pictures of children, we would talk about cooking,
About handling livestock, the best ways to gather
In brushy cow country, the places we've seen--
And speak of the merits of breeds
Of good horses and cows.

There are no gauchas they say, except for in Salta
Where horsewomen ride with pride and with flare.

 sisters of Salta
          We have much to speak of.


It's one of those bona fide
Wet and sloppy freezing plaster
Blowing horizontal

You gotta kinda conjure up survival
One reflector pole
At a time.

(And trust your luck).

Thank all the gods
That you don't have to be a-horseback
Or open buggy bound for home

Think how two stiff drinks and one hot bath
Will help your fearful clinching eyes
Blizzard-beaten mind,
And your sore and aching muscles
Soften and relax. can laugh
At Old Man Winter's dying blast
Howling futilely outside
With deadly

(And just be glad that you're alive).

Toast to a Sagebrush Flat

Life and flats are far too short
when covered in a slow lope...

Some long and stretching stride
That covers ground


Swaying, dancing
Waltzing through the brushy places
In an easy slipping gait
That makes you sit up straight and grin--
Throw back your head and laugh out loud
Into the wind and sky and grass and land...and
Just because it's so damn sweet
To be alive and


May we all have lots of Life
And long, long flats to


Like that.

Ground Force

There is a force
like a chakra that runs
down through my spine
through the seat of my saddle
through the belly of my horse
into the


this ground...this very
where I was born where I am

this land lies
high up beside an intermittent creek
running Up...into a muddy, sluggish stream
that flows its own peculiar Powder River way
into the north

to finally find itself inside the southern sea.

From here I go, I wander and I ramble
butt heads with "certainties"
and fight as is my nature
to go my own way North
and wind up South.

No matter where I go that
it centers me and here is
where I find my

in the land of my birth
where the forces flow straight
to Earth

where my free-flight
hits ground

Tin Roof Symphony

When another likely drouthy summer
comes slipping past a too-mild winter.

When fairly skimpy snowpack statistics
back up the fears of old-time mystics.

Nothing makes the range sing stronger
save a good and steady three day soaker
rain playing that tin roof symphony.

A tender "tinka...tinka...linka...tinka...tee"
skips its random music through your heart
conducing peaceful meditations, reveries, and art-
ful emanations to erupt in easy chaos
that somehow finds a fitting purpose
in a drizzle metered mind
that just wants to settle
     and unwind.

How sweetly drinks the earth, the air, your sould
How gently flows the magic liquour
     and How that good green grass