Tag Archives: Farm



I understand that
she used to ride to school
but she was little and it was a farm
and somehow that didn’t seem to count

When she was about 75 she told me
about going with dad to the far end of the ranch
on a beautiful day a long time ago
to help round up some strays

She said that she liked it a lot
and couldn’t remember why she didn’t do it more



It’s about the hardest dustiest best work a man can get

The pride of the heeling rope, thrown snake quick from a
good horse and the slow steady pull, dragging the white face
out where the boys with the hot irons
can record the feat

Three hundred cows sing of calves lost and found, and above
all through it all the full strong laugh of one of the boys,
where a slip was made or a kick well placed

At the end of the day, you wrap a rope sore hand around a
spring cold beer, and lean back against the old pole fence
deep in the pain, and the sweat, and the moment

Completely released from the wheel of desire

There’s no place you’d rather be
There’s no one you’d rather be with
and you’re too damn tired to move anyway



Outer ear gathering
sounds of birds and wind
and hooves on spring grasses

Playing them soft on the drum
as hammer and anvil and stirrup
pass on the faint creaking leather
of my old Texas boot in the stirrup

Ripples wave down inner membranes
and tiny thousands of hair cells
move like grass in the valley

From pressure to impulse
and from sound to
symbol of

All floating in the liquid balance of an easy lope



It took a long time to pound
a whole keg of brand
new spikes
into the hard ranch yard

A silvery path
paved with shining heads
danced bright in the prairie sun

I stood back young
and proud, and knew
that it was beautiful and good

My father thought he had to teach

There was no room for art
in a hard yard
in a hard world

It was a long time before I tried again



They’re not as storied as the Texas longhorn
nor as hairy as the Highland creed

And they’re not nearly so sophisticated
as the latest European breed

They sure don’t calf out as easy as Angus
but all around, they’re all you need


I remember
few things as beautiful
as looking back from the point
and seeing a few hundred Herefords
pouring through a cleft in the hills
down to the home corrals
like a spring flood
red as earth and blood
Rolling with white faced foam


(or Ranching at Eighteen)

Together we were young
and strong and very bold

And together we could drink
more beer than we could hold

We could drive home late and fast
singing every Johnny Horton song

And then fall asleep for minutes
and still answer the morning gong

We would work it out in the hot hot sun
(so easy then did the poisons yield)

As we sweated bales with pith forks
and passed gas
in a thousand acre field



I remember at Christmas getting a great threshing machine
a block of wood with wooden spools nailed to the side
but I loved it as I loved the threshing

All through the long summer days I would walk
the fields with my dog
At night my mother rubbed strong liniment on four year old
legs: growing pains she said, although one always hurt
more and didn’t seem to grow any faster

And the grain grew too, and passed me, and was higher
than I was. And then the harvest and the wonder of it falling
to the binder and the magic of the machine as it tied the
sheaves and ke-chunked them into the carrier

Then the stooking – little teepees covering the prairie again
and the golden warmth of everything

And the threshing machine; they wouldn’t let me too close;
it might eat me like it ate those sheaves and like the men
in the crew could eat, and they could eat
even when it rained

While I sat for hours nose to wet window
watching the great gray dinosaur
deep in the timeless mists

And hot clear windless days when everything sang and
the belt slapped and the machine came to life again
and wagons were on both sides
and the big horses were standing strong and ready
and switching flies with dignity

The sun caught the arch or the long plume of straw and
the chaff lifting and the old hands fed the machine in a
sort of easy sweat-oiled rhyme and the new hands stood
on the sheaves they tried to lift each time

And the old hands laughed, and the new hands laughed
and they were men together



My dad doesn’t allow pets in the house
they weren’t allowed in on the farm
where he grew up either

Once when he was eight
the dog came up the stairs

down the hall to the room on the right
where his young mother lay dying

Laid his head for a moment on her lap
and went out again