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December 31, 2009

2009 - Dry Crik Journal

2009 has been a wonderful year for Robbin and I, blessed to pursue this lifestyle in a place a little more removed from the media hysterics and the impacts of Wall Street. Ours has been an every day affair invested trying to stay here, trying new things while trying to stay out of the line of fire. Happy 2010!


                                                              Limited Edition of 30 poems

$12 check postpaid:

Dry Crik Press
P.O. Box 44320
Lemon Cove, CA 93244

                                                                 or pickup @ Elko for $10.

December 25, 2009


I realize now that it will never happen
again, and have forgotten the year
the creek rolled rafts of leaves like logs

before it, waves of brown sycamore
two or three feet high. John Vincent
was there to meet the creek upstream

where he once lived, celebrating
the all-night and all-day rain,
howling up the canyon at the storm.

We’d pass it in the pickup to meet it again –
like walking towards the ridge to see
the moon rise several times a night –

met the neighbors and kids, daring Katy
to race across and back without getting wet
when she was six or seven. Primal

and basic, even carnal in the downpour
that streaked your face like tears
as the creek gushed beside us and we kissed.

It will roll again when we are old
remembering – yet never the same
raindrops or leaves left to churn our flesh.

MERRY CHRISTMAS from Dry Creek!!

December 23, 2009


A little girl, her father sent her
inside, when he washed the blood
of brandings from his hands –
oak and hair, the pungent mix
of smoke still swirling round him.

She spends more time looking
down now at her own
translucent skin, deep blue rivers
running through her alabaster flesh
folded in her wheelchair.

She says it doesn’t feel
like Visalia anymore, born
and raised, endured eighty-five
years in the same place
she never noticed changing.

How she hated duty and
obligation – World War Two
and the love that flew away,
never to come back through
the door of her perfect cage.

Not the fairytale ending,
she closes the book and waits
for a menu, understands
that no one’s left
to protect her from this.

December 21, 2009

First Calves

One at a time, we branded the calves of our first-calf heifers last Saturday. A nice slow dance with friends.


Lesley, Jody, Katy & Virginia                        Brandon & Mattie

Audrey, Allie & Riley



Virginia & Kenny

December 13, 2009


You remember her, the one that wouldn’t come
to the truck for hay – cussed and admired
what you couldn’t be yourself. That’s how it starts –

slipping-off in the brush – ask John Haines
what’s out there, clear the hell away from humans.
You remember her and grin. She knew.

Don’t tell Corb Lund that he’ll slow down
though I can’t see how, but look around
the corral to see who’s holding the fence up –

staying out of the way – and visiting.
Mostly gentle cows now, not like the supple
days of whip and spur, rope and reins

like ribbons strung – subduing the wild
we made wilder, in love with the chase
and the danger – when we were cowboys.

We have our heroes, the ones that didn’t need
a lot of attention, got the job done
and celebrated getting to do it again

like Snyder, Jeffers and Wendell Berry –
like Tyson, Russell, and Red Steagall
and all those crazy kids at the NFR tonight.

Just having fun with this one - creek's running with another eight-tenths in the gauge!

December 12, 2009



The difference between Longhorns and Holsteins is refined by the eye and the landscape they occupy, that ‘look’ consistent with and connected to place – a depth of meaning and experience for either breed, whether in the dairy barn or wide-open spaces. I believe that on the periphery, on the fuzzy edge of knowing, supposing, hoping (or not, for some) that art and poetry live. It is with this eye and its refinement that we appreciate and judge, search for, revere and recognize in all things. We are attracted to the ‘look’. Perhaps it’s that inexplicable personal magnetism that Newton sought to quantify, perhaps it’s our past lives, but it’s out there, waiting for its moment in the vast scheme of things.


Gray between rains,
flames burn in my eye,
deadfall reduced to ash
other side of the creek
before it arrives.

Needless preparations
unless it never quits
to make up for three years
off-storming elsewhere –
like setting a nice table

for the grande dame
of this canyon, our
benefactor and lover,
the ferocious bitch
that owns us.

Driving between fires
above the brush racks
with my grandson, I see
red in a black oak stump
dancing at least a decade.


Jessica Dofflemyer photos

More rain today.

December 8, 2009

On the Edge of Snow


Storm total: .68"

December 7, 2009

Winter Games

42 degrees under partly cloudy skies, .05" in the gauge at 6:30 a.m., the bulk of this cold storm is supposed to arrive mid-day, leaving snow down to a thousand feet. Looks like Gail & Amy at the Spider Ranch have some rain in Arizona and Peter & Susan have something between rain and snow at the Keddy in northeastern Nevada. More rain forecast across the West from Wednesday/Thursday through Sunday - let the winter games begin.

December 6, 2009


Wind out of the south,
the arm points up canyon,
my father’s weatherman.

He traces the range of peaks
that will bring rain, explains
the speed of blurring blades

beside Roy Lee’s corrals
before the flat was packed
inside the dam, before the flood

of fifty-five, before I could read.
Insistent, I hear it push
through trees in the saddle,

out of the south and into my face
stirring leaves at my feet – yet
I still wish the windmill back.

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