Friday, July 29, 2011

ornithological mystery

mornings, the redtailed hawk;
twilight, a great horned owl;
afternoons, kestrels or horned larks.
is it true meadowlarks simply
disappear when the sun goes down,
reborn of their own sweet call?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

yard work in Wallowa County

through the window a
meadowlark gargles, but
sweetly, for all that.

sprinkler timpani coaxes

a dance from summer-
hagged lawn and dandelions. 

a backfire on the street!
or maybe someone
shot that lawnmower at last.

dig in the yard or just play
vegetable? it’s your call -
you get to decide.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

hiking with no DEET

bites and stings
come in different flavors
bitter from the yellow jacket
salty sharp from the bee
peppery from the red ant
sour from the deer fly
yet it would take a right tart
kink of imagination to call
the zing of a mosquito sweet, so
carry twisted thoughts 

in your pack when you hike here

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

wandering the county

wet on dry

there’s the downdraft, and
there goes the trash can down
the road again. I smell thunder.

missed it!

A scruffy young redtail bolts
from the sky, dives hard and…
misses his shot, this time.

picking arnica

Today we search for little yellow
stars on steep shady slopes,
and places our shoes won’t slide.

fine dining

blueberry plus blueberry plus
blueberry (here's an almond!)
plus blueberry plus wild onions.

My neighborhood

Half past the last star,
dawn is coming where
the local wolves hang out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

100 years ago today, Wallowa County Chieftain, 2111

The railroad tracks in Wallowa County
no longer hold any parked timber rail cars.

However the lease agreement and
the payments continue til October 2011.

Mommy, Mommy, what's a railcar? And
what is Wallowa County? And did I say that right?

Harsin Scramble

aware of what works or doesn't
in a whole
new way: chasing posts
up Harsin
Butte. nobody home
but us wildflowers. from the ridge,
watch and wolves stalk as
the bunchgrass waves farewell
to the the wind and expectations.

Vance Draw

handed over land / relict of heavy hands
traces of species richness persist 

oh the potential of a trace of protection
sharp shinned grouse await bud burst,
and heavy feasting, ten years hence

Monday, July 18, 2011


there are a number of joys
among which you may choose
the one about being there, the one
you remember, the one about  what
might be or be again, or the one that is
silently content: clarkia, wild onions, tarweed
bunchgrass, bunchgrass, bunchgrass flashing by
the taste of dust from the road, sun in your mouth
when you stop for whatever reason, the sound rocks make
when you turn them over for roots, the sound that rocks you
when you hold your heart softly and breathe in again and again
you are there where there are a number of joys: you get to choose

Saturday, July 9, 2011

it's not the cowboy way

delicate pink skin and velvety snuffles
and an unladylike snort and headshake -

slathering sunscreen on the mare's nose again

Friday, July 8, 2011

conversation at Camp Creek

this road is hard baked, and there's
lots of tasty rubble snacking on old
truck tires. it's not
that far from anywhere -
but there’s no one there. slam the door
and dust flies off to visit the ground -
the only sound
an odd chirp and
flutter, down below, and a water trickle.
and there's
the smell of forest fire or
maybe some old guy's burn barrel,
with a carton of disposables, drifting

over the divide between here and
town - but still,
there’s no one here,
no one who already knows all
the stuff you wouldn't understand.

forecast: 83 degrees and snow

wake up and smell the ozone -
if you can get the door
latched shut in time.
there’s thunder in the air and
you can smell it coming
half a day away. it smells
like humidity and cotton
candy and a worn out
steam iron and yet not quite
any of that. but that was
then and this is now, when
the down draft whistles
down the canyons, shakes
the trees, and knocks out
the lights with a power that’s
entirely elemental. wipe
the desire off your face, rush
out, roll up the windows
on the rig – but too late… the
entire dash is spattered with
dust and raindrops, blown
in at right angles.the thunder

rolls down the mountain
in honor of our most famous
son, again and again. in
your nose it is the iron age, 

and the air tastes of zinc
and danger and the
sulking of an old friend.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Minam grade before coffee

lolling on the highway by the quarry
at the top of Minam grade, four
gray fox kits, in need
of caffeine
or a clue
or a gourmet scramble
of quail eggs, fresh from the hen: to
the left, a steep climb; to the right, a
highway sign flashing “slow. slow.”