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December 12, 2010


Dry Crik Journal has moved:


We intend to keep this site active for our archives.

December 11, 2010

Sulphur 2010


Working around some nice rains, we gathered to brand Sulphur, 17 and the Lower Field.

Zach Shaver, Banjo & Tony Rabb

Chad Lawerence & Peppy

Doug Thomason & Kenny McKee

John, Clarence Holdbrooks & Cappy

John & Earl McKee

December 10, 2010


Is there something here, lost among
layers of damp leaves across the creek,
mixed and covered, year after year –

a forgotten voice, perhaps, like old man
Steadman’s? Maybe a little left behind
after his hogs cleaned-up, rooted through

the floorboards the last time he fed them.
Gone for days, he must have kept to himself –
no one remembers his first name.

Or the old Indian hanged in an oak
up the next canyon for killing his white
sidekick who repeatedly beat him.

The odd lot when Visalia was
a long day’s ride around the swamps,
Bald Eagles dotting the tops of Valley Oaks

where the Kaweah spread and hesitated
for centuries, lost its High Sierra steam
and lingered, beckoning the brave.

December 9, 2010


Like steel-jawed traps slightly buried
and camouflaged with leaves and grass –
like land mines half-way ‘round the world,

we step around them, waiting
for the old horse or dog on the edge
of suffering, or the crippled cow,

before pulling the necessary trigger.
We cannot pretend we do not see
gophers in the garden, the endless trail

of ants, the rats’ nest - we deal death
as we wait for our own, always hoping
our compassion might outweigh the facts.

Killing is not for old men who have lost
their focus, who cannot pull the blinders up
to eclipse themselves. A man can endure

only so many squeezes, so many crosshairs
before he begins to step around insects
and spiders, avoiding the snakes in the road.

December 6, 2010

After Rain


It seems we’ve been juggling lots of things as my daughter and grandson have arrived from Kauai for his birthday, corral repairs while getting ready to brand another bunch in Greasy, reading poetry in Reedley – a delightful evening at the Mennonite Peace Center – and another .70” rain last night while organizing another chapbook, UNEVEN GREEN, in my sleep. It’s a beautiful morning on Dry Creek – spread a little thin, but no urgency.

December 1, 2010

Let the Games Begin


It is time, our true beginning of the year as we assure next year’s calves. The early morning air is filled with the bellows of bulls, testosterone ringing, hanging in the cottonwoods as we gather to put them out with the cows. The older bulls know, and the new bulls try to avoid this new intensity of posturing. Our bulls are fairly gentle and easy to handle, given time, but the air gets thick as space decreases in the corral. Some we can haul to the various pastures, but in Greasy we have to drive them to the cows. It always helps to have a bull who’s been there before, who knows the way, who knows it’s time to go to work.


We select the bulls for each bunch of cows, knowing some will change pastures, leaving a wake of broken posts and wire to repair. Let the games begin!

Clarence and Zach headed for the Top.

November 30, 2010


It was important once
to climb the peak –
avoid looking down
and imagining the mess
after the fall.

My name is in the book
with many others:
the pregnant girl
I held in thin air,
in the chimney

near the top – we know
she had no business there,
no reason other
than keeping-up with him.
It was important then.

We were close
for an instant
above Rae Lakes,
mules and horses
grazing between them,

gripped intensely
by the next step down.
Her name and face are lost,
but not my promise
to stay off peaks.


The opinions expressed in the Western Folklife Center's Deep West online journals are those of the online journal participants and not the Western Folklife Center. The Western Folklife Center does not moderate these journals and as such does not guarantee the veracity, reliability or completeness of any information provided in the journals or in any hyperlink appearing within them.


John and Robbin Dofflemyer
John and Robbin Dofflemyer
Poet and Photographer

In the southern Sierra Nevada foothills east of Visalia, John and Robbin Dofflemyer graze cows and calves on Dry Creek, a tributary of the Kaweah River. With a crew of two others, both are engaged in every aspect of the operation. Robbin began packing a camera and photographing various aspects of the ranch and ranch work in the spring of 2005 after a winter of abundant rainfall. John’s involvement with cowboy poetry began in 1989 with an invitation to the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, where the two were later married in 1996.
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