Transformations

featured in the poetry forum October 19, 2016  :: 1 comment

The weight of grass is heavy
Upon my shoulders; lift it,

Scythe is, mow it, let the cattle
Feed that I may walk again.

I sit upon a log in the shade
Of Wood. I sip mate.

I visit Buenos Aires and lie
In bed all day and watch cartoons.

I just want to sleep in
One Saturday, One Monday.

I want the Field Crossers
To stop trampling the grass,

To stop walking across my back
When they think I am napping:

Don’t they know the padlock turns
Are all numbered and recorded?

Editor, Advisor, stop planting corn
When I want my fields clovered.

I want again my daily strolls
In the quiet of Wood,

To watch for hours the bumblebees work
And lock eyes with the mockingbird.

editors note:

Clover over corn? Yes! (This poem is a fine one of the mad many included in Stephen’s new collection, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River, published by Finishing Line Press. Get it here.) – mh clay

Satellites

featured in the poetry forum June 29, 2016  :: 0 comments

The tree frogs called the rain last night,
but the rain did not answer.
The intermittent croaking, about
every hour or so, was followed by
a gust of wind and the scent
of water, but no sprinkle, no pour.

The new gaucho, an angelic Moral
who rides our horse to sores,
has dried the soy beans not yet
planted. He horns the sun and peels
paint from his home.

Twenty millemeters of rain is not
forty nine, even with the north
wind. Two plastic gauges announce
the Tattler’s arrival in the park.

The newer gaucho, taller, broader
shouldered than the Angel
shunned away, suffers the sun
of unshaded twenty-one with
a smile and shovel-blistered hands
(but later became the Excuse Maker).

Just one day of the computer-
promised rain should soften the earth
and shoot the canal
full of internet cable, that is,
if the flexible orange pipe is found
on time.

With each truck that passes lot
three, earth crumbles and narrows
the road. We hope that the Three
barricade that which blackened
and thinned the cows.

I will the odometer to quit
increasing exponentially, and the bushes
Teresa planted not to yellow near
our home.

editors note:

Atmospheric conditions unaffected angelically. (Congrats to Stephen on the imminent release of his new book, “A Ranch Bordering the Salty River.” Learn more about it and reserve your order here.) – mh clay

In the Local News

featured in the poetry forum September 25, 2015  :: 0 comments

Friday, September 7th, 1 a.m.:

It begins to rain heavily,
the sound like barrels of water
being poured on the corrugated roof.

Jonathan locks his office door
and settles into his reading chair
to read a bit and sleep.

Just audible above of the sound of water
he hears something else,
like someone rattling
the door handle.

He looks up but the handle is not moving.
Then . . . Bang!
the door caves convexly in,
shakes on its hinges . . .
Bang. Bang. Bang.

Jonathan is on his feet
in the middle of the room,
an antique branding iron
held in his hand
like a club.

(You see, Jonathan has read often
in the local papers
of similar incidents:
“In the middle of the night
a rancher robbed and beaten for cash
in his office.”
Or,
“A rancher and his family
robbed at gunpoint in their home
by three ex-convicts hopped up
on Meth.”

Not that Jonathan couldn’t take care of himself, but)

The door bangs and shakes two more times.
Jonathan thinks that his shotgun
might be a better weapon,
and just as he turns to retrieve it,
lightning flashes through the skylights,
blueing the entire office,
his ridiculous shadow twice
on the floor,
and almost simultaneously,
thunder cracks and rumbles away.

Jonathan drops the branding iron,
unlocks and opens the door,

and in leaps
Dominic,
wet
and muddy and panting,
shaking water everywhere.

Dominic never liked thunder.

editors note:

Dog from desperado, transformed in a flash. – mh clay

The Head

featured in the poetry forum July 9, 2014  :: 0 comments

I saw a dead body today.
I did not see the head.

I was on my way back from La Limpieza,
driving the route the Walking Man walks

I was thinking about the Advisor, the Bad
guy, the Tattler. I was coming around
a dangerous curve, a curve where I have
witnessed the aftermath of many an accident,
skid marks, trucks turned over, logs spilled
onto the road, cars with front ends smashed
in, windshields shattered. Coming around
the curve I slowed down then stopped
for a white-gloved policeman with his palm
held out. My white truck reflected
in his sunglasses. There was a dark blue
pickup behind him. I waited while the traffic
passed from the other direction. The police-
man then waved me forward, his lips and chin gravely
set. I tapped my toe on the accelerator, hoping the cop
would not notice that my seatbelt was unfastened, and drove slowly
past the dark blue pickup. The cab was caved
in, the passenger door open. I saw a man, no,
I saw a body wearing a blue plaid
shirt and blue jeans, the right arm
extended, the hand still gripped
to the gear shift. The crushed cab roof
formed a vee that inverted
directly into the middle
of the body’s shoulders,
right where the neck should be.
There was no blood, but
I did not see the head.

I saw a dead body today.
I did not see the head.

I was thinking about the Advisor, the Bad
Guy, the Tattler.

editors note:

You won’t take with you head nor toe. When it’s time to go, you go. – mh

The Cattle Rustler

featured in the poetry forum August 18, 2013  :: 0 comments

With your sharp silver facón you shaved
the calf’s hindquarter, looking for the brand
that you knew was not there,
and it was only the notary’s whisper
about the calf’s fat healthy appearance
that jerked your hand
into blae confession, slicing off
your black denial, drawing
sanguine tears.

“Three,” you said, “three calves”
you lost, with fingers upheld,
even though we found eleven
that had to be returned to the neighbor
whose ranch horsed the bearded cohort
who probed me with questions of origin
to discover what substance made
this stoic face and wide-set stance.

Your penned renouncement only papered
when Teresa waved her hand and said
“enough, enough bloodshed; we gave
you our trust which you stabbed then twisted it
deep into my pelvis which will never again birth
confidence in your bull-brown eyes.”

editors note:

A short scene; cattle wars and the politics of trust. Someone goes hungry… – mh

Guias

featured in the poetry forum May 9, 2013  :: 0 comments

The green guias are paid for.
The seven thin cows
and seven spine-warped bulls
are about to vanish
from our virid pastures.

The Accomplice skipped work today.
He did no show his olive face.
I guess he became weary
of shoveling hen-house shit.
We set his horse free.

My truck wheel fell off:
after driving sixty kilometers
at one hundred thirty kilometers per hour
I turned off the highway upon a dirt road
and felt the thump.

The two calf-killing stallions
were boxed in crates
and although the Calloused-Hand Curator
displayed coins in his palm
I did not offer the star-marked colts.

The Malingerer extended his sick-leave:
I loom patiently outside his locked window
with a hammer in my hand;
I remove rusty animal traps
from the moonlit afternoon.

In town I errand tools and supplies
and take a coffee-break at El Café Local,
The gossip at the table behind me
is that the Rustler was seen at the stationer—
that his pen had run out of ink.

editors note:

When those guidelines indicate the end of famine or the imminency of thieves (which?); when all the usual suspects have fled the scene (where?); it takes a good cup o’ joe to clear the head. – mh