Category Archives: poetry

Thoughts on Reaching

Thoughts on Reaching

We walked along a channel to a sallow bay,
Gathering time mechanical had stamped its day.
Children there wallowed along vast empty fields;
Animals, jaundiced, driveled portentous peals.
Haughty man blights the mundane and the calm;
Lilies and poppies bloom a temporary balm.
The compass is locked, a bearing to the fore;
Intrinsic unknown, a distant void’s shore.
Grey swirls, a vacuum, a meandering flow,
The greater sense ‘tis better not to know.
Chaotic in nature, flushing the pastoral,
A faculty seeps with a mind’s endless toil.
Who sets the bounds, names the picturesque;
Veiled, tinctures the palette, obscure, indirect.

The Third Month

GT on Rock Creek

         bending bamboo
                  below snow patches
                           in shadow

         Last night I noticed the nubs of the first Daffodil shoots emerging in the backyard. Over many years I used to take photos of their progress during this early period, including when they stoutly withstood the blankets of snow that frequented the months of March and April; once the first patch bloomed (there are many patches throughout the yard), I typically posted a photo and something like “and the blooms are on…” or “forth they burst” followed by Wordsworth’s ‘I wandered lonely as a Cloud,’ one of my favorite poems. I had to give it up in the last five years or so though, as only the surrounding neighbors’ Daffodils have bloomed while we’ve had simply the protruding green shoots. The Glacier Lilies always seem to come through, however, spreading their lovely yellow hue throughout the surrounding mountains and river bottoms. This reality, symbolism at its best, gives me hope in nature’s ability to retain some level of relevance in the modern era. In Montana there are countless wildflowers to view in May and June, spring being a special time of year for such activity.

         the Third Month-
                  a ghostly Heron probes icy pools
                           Robins resting in a Willow

         During the unseasonable weather, I’ve made it out to the local streams a few times with the kids and occasionally a rod. Caution has been somewhat exercised with the dog given the cold water this time of year, particularly in the Blackfoot and Rock Creek. The back channels along the Bitterroot have been a warmer option for Ajax (almost five months old now) to slowly begin to acclimate. It seems strange to worry about such things with a dog that has such a heavy coat, but pups get spooked from large bodies of water, particularly if the water is frigid.Spurgin Lambs

         late winter grass
                  fences and light rain
                           ewes’ lambs

         I took a photo with the phone of a resident’s field after pulling out of the Kelly Island area. This was not too long ago. I enjoy watching the wary lambs this time of year, another simple pleasure sometimes taken for granted.
         The rivers are slightly up and chalky at the moment, although things have cooled a bit during the evenings again and it’s not been raining quite as much. There’s been no cross country skiing to speak of, though the kids are talking about maybe getting in a little downhill while there’s still the option available. I’ve not had much to write about lately, so it’s been pretty quiet. I’ve spent a little time in the UM gym to attempt to maintain some level of fitness and picked back up writing a book. I’ve compiled four or five chapters thus far, but it’s been touch and go as the enthusiasm has been a little off. I’ll call it the mid-winter doldrums. One’s principal occupation takes priority, though the financial world today is a circus. It’s cabbage and potato soup for dinner tonight. Maybe I’ll throw in some dried cranberries.

         pale cold waders
                  unwilling to ford
                           the Bitterroot

Bitterroot 2.28.16

Without (for Sport)

Without (for Sport)
     fall, 2015

If you can pedal into the wind without the doping,
Bend the oar in sync without prescriptions,
     Compete on the pitch without the biting,
     Swim like a fish without the bong hits and super suits,
If you can hit the long ball without the floozies,
Ski race without getting bombed the night before,
     Quarterback your team without deflating,
     Swing the Louisville without the gambling,
Drain a swish without the prostitutes,
Box the distance without the cocaine,
     Guard the wicket without rigging the game,
     Race the thoroughbred without the cobalt,
Drive to the checkered flag without the modifications,
Dig for the volleyball without the booster’s benefits,
     Skate gracefully without declining to take the shots,
     Be on center court without the obscenities and racket smashing,
Run like a deer without the suspicious blood passports,
Execute a Granby Roll while wrestling without the ‘roids,
     Avoid the theatrical blood while in the scrum,
     If you can curl without rough brooms,
Dive like a penguin without peeping,
Glide across the snow without the plasma expanders,
     If you can attend college without being recruited for cash or goods,
     If Regents can preserve academics without filling the stands,
If you can study in the same library as your non-competing classmates,
And avoid having tutors write your papers for you,
     If you can keep your recruiter from enrolling you in sham classes,
     And your coach can lead the team without an improper touch,
     If Countries can host without the bribery,
     And Leagues be formed without the corruption…
Alas! Given the state of sport, what is one to do?
Stick to casting flies on clean rivers with cheap bamboo.


‘Poetry’, she chided. ‘This you’re to write,
     Late into the evening and under the dim light’.
Yet what remains unwritten? What’s new to say?
     Can one influence man’s steady state of decay?
Pan, Mark and Mencius, so tradition has held,
     Each had their own way, three shepherds in the dell;
Rivulets daily seeping lowly into the mire,
     Concocting their brew, still yet to transpire;
Each their own methods, each their own style,
     ‘One man, one trade’, planners – can these reconcile?
So up with the dawn, and out through the gate!
     Objectively view the true global state.
Write not didactically, keep an even plane,
Each day part in shadow, and so it’ll remain.

Hastily put together on a blustery November morning…

The Times

Random Thoughts impromptu while at a New Yorker’s
Beach House just north of Jekyll Island.

On Candor

         ‘They say they had to do it, John,’
‘Why? There could have been a
Sincere debate. Remember debates?’
‘No, no one would have bought it, John?’
‘Well, I’ll give you that. Not if they
Had a financial brain and an acuity for
Future generations.’
‘So, what are you writing this afternoon?’
‘I don’t know? I reckon I’ll know shortly…’
         ‘Religion is serfdom, John.’

On Three Dogs

         The three were sprinkled mournfully into the
Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Blackfoot.
Their grey residue melding into the
         Flowing oblivion.

         The first of English stock, a direct descendant
Of Ms. Scales’ breeds; for upland birds. Loved to run
In the fields, nose up, large brown eyes alive. Died of
         Cancer. Humanely put down.

         The second, a Canadian from Mr. Birch’s
Breeding North of Montana. Did you know Canadian
         Dogs have numbers tattooed in their ears? Her
Tattoo was green. Bought for field trialing. She was unruly at times,
         But a ball. This black lab had a seizure one evening,
Passing gently on her own.

         The third, well, Where to begin? A donation by a local
Kennel just west of town. Not sure of her age when
         We got ‘er. Three or so, maybe? She had bad hips,
But gave everything nonetheless. Steady in the
         Canoe, a great nose for the uplands, decent on the
Water too, though not a lot of water fowling as the
         Duck count’s been off in the ‘root. Wonderful with
The kids. Typical of the breed. In recent years,
         She barked and sometimes cried when I was eating. Why?
She wandered off disoriented during our walks in the
         Woods. Finally, age showing white on her chin, she
Could no longer get up in the morning, run or walk.
         Humanely, she was put down.

The kids want another one.
Imagine the thought.

Bad Marriage Mountain

BadMarriageMtn            As it always seems to do, summer is slipping quietly by. Erin and I managed an impromptu camping excursion Wednesday to the east side of Glacier National Park, only a few hours north of Missoula. Driving up the east side of Flathead Lake there were many cherry stands in full operation selling what remains of the season’s harvest. Huckleberries were available as well. After having purchased a Glacier National Park annual pass at the western entry and brief consternation, we decided to fight the peak of the summer tourist crowd and drive over the Going To The Sun road. Once beyond Lake MacDonald, it was jammed bumper to bumper with the mid-July visitors. Erin decided not to drive the section though the wheel was offered. We weaved our way up the mountainside among many plates from Texas, Oregon and Washington. For some reason, these three plates really seemed to stand out this trip among the Jammers (traditional red park busses). I believe I read somewhere that Glacier was the most visited national park last year. Each time I drive the popular road I marvel at the engineering feat. Amazing. We snapped a few photos along the route, but continued non-stop over to St. Mary Lake after noting the Logan Pass parking lot was full. There was construction along the scenic St. Mary, but it was not too inconvenient. We recalled a section where young children once sat on a wall below jagged mountains for a photograph. Unfortunately during this mid-week trip Todd had to stay in town for work and Seth had already made other commitments with a soccer buddy. They grow up fast.

Blackfeet horses
            freely meander fields
                            below Mad Wolf

            As I enjoy the Blackfeet Reservation and its rugged, tundra like country landscape, it was once more where we decided to pitch the tent. Following a brief visit to the Browning Trading Post and the Cenex north of town (both regional information sites), we decided to camp below Bad Marriage Mountain in the Cutbank Creek area rather than our traditional site along Lower Two Medicine. We were fortunate to have a freely roaming herd of Blackfeet horses visiting our camping area. Like the local cattle, the horses too freely browse in the fields below the Aspen and Cottonwood stands along the eastern boundary of the park. At the Pinterest link above this post there are references to works written about the Blackfeet, a tribe with a rich history. Erin and I did not take the canoe to boat Lower Two Medicine and the Middle Fork of the Flathead; however, on more lengthy stays, canoeing in the area can be spectacular. One year Todd and I sat in a canoe and photographed a grizzly and her cub along one of Two Medicine’s banks.

summer hail
            birch leaves drifting
                        down Cutbank Creek

            This trip I did bring along a few fly rods and fished sections in the area during the two days. Cutthroat and Brook Trout mostly, downstream from the North Fork of Cutbank Creek’s falls. This is a hike-in area leading to Medicine Grizzly Lake. I was happy I had the large lid, as it came in handy during the blowing rain. The weather reminded me of my favorite time to visit the park, September. It got pretty bitter Thursday, with thunder and hail at the tail-end of our hike. It felt like fall, only the birch were not turning. I texted Todd a photo of a wet and cloudy Two Medicine on the way out and got the “no fair!” reply. Well, he’s heading to Kimberley, BC, just north of Glacier, as I type this late Friday afternoon – a soccer tournament. Fall camping and fishing, however, loom for the future freshman. My take has always been to sincerely treat each season as though it were one’s last.

misty mountains cloak
            Two Medicine as moose graze
                        grass shoots