Monthly Archives: March 1995



Clouds are a part of living
and if you fly, a big part of staying alive

I remember an airport and the sky closing behind me
a brand new pilot’s license and no instrument time
a terrible, deadly, damn fool policy
I hope they’ve changed it

I had a few lessons from my brother
he told me about believing the instruments

Of course I didn’t really, actually, believe them
but I did follow the one that said “we’re right side up”

When my inner ear said; “you’re not,” “turn,” “turn or die”

And I throttled back and let the plane sink into the dark
we might land or hit something at less than full speed
and then there was a little space and a little light
and a landmark, and the lost ground was found

And the time flying from Calgary to Salt Lake
with two cloud layers twenty feet apart
and the big twin flying V.F.R. between
and the feeling in my heart

But the best is a grey cloudy day
when the whole world is too sad to play
and old mother nature seems to wring out her mop
and you have a little courage and you know

That there’s no place like the light
when you break out on top



Heading west for stampede city
doing two miles a minute through air
with a Chinook pouring over the mountains
and a rising feeling that you’ll never get there

You’re going slower and slower
over the rough wind swept ground
and you don’t want to land in that field
and of course, you don’t dare turn around

The needle and your knees
are all three on empty, knocking
and if you had a car, you’d pull over
get out the old can, and start walking

But you’ve made it, you land, and you park
and you know there’s someone you’ve got to thank
when the boys put thirty two gallons
in a thirty two gallon tank



Eight triple one Gulf, this is seventy eight Tango Sierra
how would you like to drop in to Grand Canyon airport?

We were flying Calgary-Phoenix; he Phoenix-Sun Valley
a friend had just lost an engine. He needed to land
and wanted a ride to Phoenix.

I didn’t know the runway but I followed him in

It’s not a very long runway and at the end
are some pretty big trees.

I was low and slow in the old Twin Commander
the one with the geared engines

The ones you always had to handle oh so gentle
like your throttles were a handful of eggs

So I played the game and brought in the power easy

Too slow and you eat the trees
too fast and you eat the pistons, and the trees

And it was a mighty pretty runway
when you were standing on the ground

On the way back from Phoenix It was late afternoon and we were lured
by the siren beauty of the Grand Canyon.

Right turn diversion, West to East as slow as we could go
Just below the rim the whole length of it
watching the magic colors as the sun
behind us lit up the canyon walls

Almost out of fuel we finally pulled ourselves away and
turned north to find a runway.

The wind was from the west and we had to land into the
blinding light of the sun just before it went down.

It was as if it had turned on us, this light that had made us
feel so alive, (although we had really turned on it) and was
about to kill us now because we didn’t have enough fuel to
go around and we had to face it
straight on.

With two pilot passengers looking out the side windows and
calling out heights and directions, and a little luck we got
down. And we felt good again, very good.

Always the turnings, always the changing, always the other
side of the coin. So many times in that part
of my life it seemed that the beauty and the
pleasure were but a thin membrane away
from the fear and the danger.



It was first solo cross country night
with all the fears of those new at flight

But the full winter moon lit a chess-board
of snow covered stubble and black fallow fields
and small creeks, winding east, from the mountains

All of the fears into the liquid moonlight melted
while flared nerves stayed open to the beauty

And the Cessna ran smooth at five thousand feet
I couldn’t have been higher, at fifty



Wouldn’t it be nice
if you went out with your instructor one morning
and the blue foothills sky was full of white puff ball clouds

And you smiled at each other
and began to play in and out of their magic
of shadows and light

And it felt as much lighter than air
as air is lighter than earth

And the hour took moments and forever
and the silence and awe followed you back
and he wouldn’t even take your money for the ride

Now I know it’s not legal to fly in clouds like that
so I’m not exactly saying that it happened

But wouldn’t it be nice



For years you’ve been leaning up your act
But now the good old boys are coming back

And the guy they’re coming back to see
Is the good old boy that you used to be

You broke some broncs and drank some
And played tough football in those

Cruised to front and back seat double
And took big guns to kill small timid

Since then you’ve passed through many a
But can’t say to them. I’m not that person

Of course they may have changed too

But how oh how could they tell … You



She’s been rode hard
and not put away yet

She’s got a bad scraped hide
from a long rough ride

She’s been secticided and pesticided
and damned sure blind sided
with more spray and dip and hot feed
than any ten could stand or need

So think about loosenin that cinch a bit
and givin her a good long rest
and a deep drink of that old cool water
from the spring she likes the best

And stop that “Greenhorn” spurrin
whatever else you do
or you’re gonna have a good horse
dead under you



The old timers were all settin around the general store
I think they’d been there forever or a few days more
hocking up gossip and spit and an occasional snore

And as it’s always been in the West of the East
the one who knew the most said the least
He had a face like old harness and one bad eye
to myself I called him “the old dry guy”

Late January one year the old boys were a buzz
old Jeb had got scalded and burned off some fuzz
He’d been bathing in his kitchen in the old tin tub
and reached across for the kettle to warm up the rub
slipping he’d spilt it and lost some skin and some hair
and the boys were all speculatin’ how much and where

They’d talked it around for about three hours or more
when the ‘old dry guy’ moved in his chair by the door

They all got real quiet and leaned closer to hear

He said

“Serves the damn fool right, takin a bath this time of year”



Shakespeare knows what we got do first
but let’s get rid of the feed lots next

Oats was made for breakfast
and corn was made for whiskey
cows was made for eatin grass
and calves for runnin frisky

Surely not for standin around
bursting their livers on a lot of hot feed
that they don’t need, and we don’t need

The beef might be
a little tougher to chew
but our hearts and our jaws
would soon be back to as good as new

And it might
come in real handy
not to be steroid de-sexed
when it comes to what we’ve gotta do next