Saturday, December 24, 2011

the Constitution of the County

all it takes is an opinion
in the coffee shop to
tilt the world.

try it for yourself!
fill up on caffeine and
fresh-baked hubris.

if you get an argument,
you win. if you get
silence, you win.

check the rules:
coffee shops and rabid 

letters to the editor propose -

bad tips and irritated silence
dispose. (and everyone's
in the local judiciary.)

my county 'tis of thee: we'll
always have big talk,
hot coffee, and poor tips.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


cracked corn
empty shells
junco tracks

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

speak easy or not

so you’re on your soap box and I’m on mine
and sometimes we agree. meanwhile,
the fate of the world seems to hang
on the contents of our discussions. thank-
you, nonphosphate detergent containers,
for your support. and when we step down,
triumphant over I’m-not-sure-what, I predict
yet more fighting in the newspaper, some
made up stuff, and a general lack of
peace on earth. nothing new to see, carry on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

herdsmanship by Mythos

Loki knows: Goats are not "little cows"
and sheep should not be
in the same sentence
as goats. They dine differently.

Think of goats as Olympian
first cousins to deer -
with the fastest metabolism of
any ruminant under the sun. Godlike.

Just ask Apollo – he says he sees them
snacking all day
on the choicest weeds and leaves –
all over the territory.

Hera, that domestic goddess,
in her second career
as a personal trainer, recommends
roughage and low protein, nothing too hot.

Despite what any satyr will tell you,
too much grain
will not produce an Olympian,
nor a satisfying sex life, nor good kidding.

Just ask Thor, who goat-powers
his entire chariot -
then parks by a campfire
somewhere, and eats them for dinner.

But the next day, there they are,
back carting him around.
Still, you'll need to ask Zeus and Athena
for the rules of water-into-wine herdsmanship.

How it is he gets them to regenerate like that
is a puzzle only Minerva knows. 

But on Olympus, the first rule
of intelligent herding is ... keep all the bones. related article.

Monday, December 19, 2011


some of the grain hits the frozen ground
and bounces, like you’d expect from live
things milled for the exclusive use of
other live things. the sound of protein
on dirt and fiber of floor is a variation
never heard two thousand years ago,
when the sound of seeds sliding in
the midden and the bounce of a bone
on the rock shelter floor were softened
by the hiss of fire or the slough of sand.
the livestock shuffles in on grass-worn
feet, and next door, a vacuum sucks
what could become your heritage dinner,
locavore, if too much goes too wrong.
for now, let the grain rattle in the pan
and let the ice blue sky check it all out.
take a deep breath and think about
winter. we’ll see how this all plays out.
let some of the grain hit the frozen ground.

cold gravel

it’s that time when snow sticks-to-gravel
sticks-to-warmed sole coverings on
each foot and we gingerly heel-and-
toe it to the truck. years later, all
the gravel falls off as the heater keeps
blowing the winter blues, and the wheels
recall criss-crossing the Blues on black ice

Sunday, December 18, 2011

we ask your inattention...

we ask your inattention
for the river that runs
so silently under
the Minam ice.
if you're not listening,
here is how it works.
we all stack up under
the bridge, take
a deep breath and...
hold your nose: we
plunge face first
as we slide down
the right-angle gradient,
seeking the final level
(you know how it goes).
pay no attention, you
fishermen and ghosts
and hobos and bigger
rivers and the sea: we
are coming, if you're
watching or if you're not.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

any story

finding the story in the ordinary -
that’s called history, or could be
finding the story that could be
true, that’s  called poetry, or
could be. finding the story in the
clerestory, that’s called going
to church, and meaning it. finding
the story between the lines you
do and do not say, that’s called
fine translations. what do you say?

Monday, November 28, 2011

in honor of the pig mare.

in the name of all that’s equine we honor you:
hay forks and full wheelbarrows, rampant,
quartered with brushes and bagged oats!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


at the barn, snow blankets the mare
gusts to twenty-nine
wise horses face downwind

at the back door, blankets come hot from the dryer
goosebumps Braille an alarm
wise people curl by the fire
at the sink, the faucet drips furiously
good pipes help, a bit
wise children let the dog in
in the hallway, the heater wafts warmish air
a sweater is not enough
wise women put out spare candles

in the bed, the cat’s stolen the blanket

snow likely tonight
wise creatures wait it out

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

the morning of a stationary front

pop. pop. pop. after the third frost
western larch is taking a stand
on Chief Joseph Mountain - pop.
pop. pop. – too chill, too still for
the legendary thunder to go rolling
over it, but the landscape knows
the old, cold story. pop. pop. pop.
and deer and elk listen hard before
making the first crackling step
back into the brush. pop. pop. pop.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

baking garlic without a chuckwagon

Here, it's not like they tell you
in the tee-vee Westerns. Here,
there's actually a way to turn
the campfire to 450 degrees.
And here, there's no need
to chase the dust and flies
from the herd from your kitchen.
Not that herd, anyway. And
Ol' Cookie never had self-
sharpening knives or dispose-
all sinks. Still, today we rarely
have the opportunity for protein
in the biscuits - not without
a school science project, anyway.
Out on the trail, refrigeration
amounts to a wet bag hanging out
on a frosty night. "We could do that
here. But why?" Turn on the stove.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

lower valley (half sonnet for contrasts)

we're not known for consistency here:
there's a fancy gate on a rasty fence
a bright plastic play gym fronting
a worn and flaky Victorian (note
the lead paint) and parked there, one
marvelously worn station wagon
next to a scarab-painted show car

who needs consistency, anyway?

Monday, October 24, 2011

riding the pony through the labyrinth

which way shall I go, which way shall
I go? pull a flip coin from your pocket.

now: at the next crossroads by moonlight
turn a bit, look left, then right, then 

left again. set your pony’s tail light a-
blinking, put your spurs on cruise-

control, and tell your friends, kindly,
what way you love ‘em or don't.  

now, you get to choose to whoa, 
to drop the reins, or take the keys.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

sonnet for sustainability

a theory of surprise may turn success -
let alone competition - on its head.
so let's start. before all that, there's
the if/then. and if you're lucky and fail
grandly, perhaps the gift is in discovery
of the so what and the then what? smart
money talks - but you don't have to hear.

and maybe - just - complacency will take

some rich mud in the face, and from it
will sprout things you never saw before.
if the purpose of experiment, though, is
some desired result, you may get lucky
and discover the one watched pot that
actually never boils, and all goes awry.

or is that tweak of expectation the very

gift we seek? o surprise, and o peace.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

wildlife superhighway

hard-hoofed, somebody stamped this spot
too “comfortable for a bed down," right
where the trail runs down to the creek.

signs of deer and fox are everywhere present
along the decline of the old waterway --
the one shoved west by high water and thaw.

and everywhere: grasses, weeds, grasses,
weeds; pawprints, and the holes in
the greenscape left by a sloppily 

bounding whitetail.
  one more time,
look around this unlonesome place.
it is a streaming wildlife superhighway.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

half sonnet for sunshine

the first shiny day after the first snow,
a friendly old guy stands on the corner -
waving to the men in rusty farm trucks
rattling down through the town. and! there's
a lady in a shiny pick-up truck, so politely, he
tips his cap, and leans on his cane in the sun
toward fresh bacon and eggs, just next door.

listening to drowsy maggie

flat flat sharp flat - the strings jingle
the obscure tune flutters through
high tech speakers. computer mediated
folk music rocks the house of the
lone ranger. there's a blanket on
the work chair and hot green tea
on the desk. better living through
electronics or maybe just simplicity.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

no snow

today is very nearly 
the last day with no 
snow. drink up the dry
and warm, brace for 
the cold snap to come, 
or just pretend that
you pay no attention
to any of it. the gift of
inattention is a gift all
the same, though what
you get from tuning in
is surely a sweeter
windfall apple crunching
beneath your feet

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I know it's just how life is but

lame fawn
circles my lawn

there is no 9 1 1

seasonal recipe

I know you think this calls for salt and pepper and butter
and an oven hot as hell
and bleach-flavored dish water, after

but the meal I have in mind is not the meal that can be

consumed – or not in that fashion!
so bring on the changes, colder than you expected 

and the little apples falling everywhere
while the customers bring their fawns
to the buffet out front  - and there is nothing left to step on

a shut door trumps a practice blast from
the pre-
winter wind – not on stage yet, for 
the change of seasons is indefinite, but free

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Heartwarming story of the week

It’s one of the old timers' dad's sons 
who rescued the situation -
gave the kids a donation 

at their car wash big enough
to buy gas to send everyone 

to the Big Contest, which
they won, pretty much 

against all odds, and now
we plan to put up a sign 

at the edge of town, “Home
of the Big Prize Winners for 2010” – 

or we would if we could just agree
whether that’s appropriate. So then
the son of the old timer’s dad
pretty much takes things
into his own hands the way
he pretty much always does,
and now that proud slogan graces
a newly painted, rather hideous
old barn on the edge of town,
and everyone is quite
unexpectedly happy.

from news from a small town poetry practice, August 2010

Saturday, September 10, 2011

sonnet for cactus mountain fire

burning and burnouts - and my little house
under the flight path as usual - and there's 
that sky-rattling sound - you know the one -
bucket helicopters in the cool morning air,
the way it is before it gets thick and choppy.
on the highway and back roads - jet fuel and
catering trucks, Grayback crews, and green rigs.

and this report of local conditions to know:
hot, dry and crunchy in the canyons,
flatbeds of off-brand gatorade rattling down
the gravel roads to fuel our sweaty fire crews.
no rain is predicted, but they say there will be
cooler nights and portable showers for all
back at fire camp - over at the rodeo grounds.

you may expect haze rolling over the mountains -
 for once again, it is summer before winter falls.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

learning schedule

things I don’t know:
too numerous to list
too numerous to know
too dangerous to presume.
the fallback position:
appreciate everything
in sight; widen eyes
and ears with wonder.

cinquain for rising on a September weekend

than the
forecast hot -
build a morning fire,

Saturday, September 3, 2011

seasonal stirrings

John put gas in the tank
of the contract water wagon -
for the first time since

we signed the on-call contract.

fire, fire! everywhere else!

like some years, we wait
for dispatch, like others

we sit in the dirt and smoke.

a lean year for the hand and

engine crews - but fall
is coming, as long as
doesn’t get here first.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

my address

box on a fencepost,
bunch of rocks lying around 

below Iwetemlaykin, dit dit dit dit

*Iwetemlakin means at the food of the lake. The old name for the Joseph area is Hah-um-sah-pah ... bunch of rocks lying around.

low hopes

the day the rain fell
from a cloudless sky
the neighbor said,

“this can’t be happening."

funny thing, but it does.
the day the wild creatures
rambled into town, the paper said,

“this shan’t be happening!”

but thank goodness! it did. the day
the good guys met the bad guys,
nothing much happened...

(and neither knew which was who).

perhaps tomorrow another
impossible thing will happen.
you never know until

“what happened couldn’t be.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

last day of August

well, it looks like summer!
yet the snap to the morning
predicts: “fall today, and
t'other soon.” it is enough.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Souciant saute...

a handful of finely
  chopped onion bulbs
a sprinkle of sedum
a clawful of sliced couse
a few cattail corms
 sauteed and simmered
 seasoned with a
scamper of squirrel or
gobbets of gopher or
a crawling of crawdads
presented in a bed of spring blooms
  bighead clover, Tolmie's onion, yellow fritillary
and seasonal greens... montia, spring beauty
a feast...  fit for one who is part of the land.

                          r.anderson   15Mar2011