Dispatching An Ornery Old Goat (With Big Horns)

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The ornery old goat has been dispatched,

The one with the beard and the horns,

He scared all the children, in bucking fit fevers,

And he tripped up the mares and the foals.

The ornery old goat has been dispatched,

The one who ate all of the grain,

He’d stand up beside you,

Stick a horn towards your good eye,

And make even the strong turn away.

The ornery old goat has been dispatched,

The one born more than twelve years ago.

The ornery old goat has been dispatched,

But we were sad to see him go.

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A Failed God

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Once, I had a goat,
and loved him.
Two weeks old,
in need of a bottle,
like an own baby
I could not have.
A mystery,
why such sweet spirits
would love us,
messy as we are,
and we are.
But there was tenderness,
and trust—
Have you ever been trusted–
makes it so much worse
when you fail.
We hiked canyons together,
and I held him in my arms
when we crossed the deep creeks–
carried him with strong, sure hands,
and placed him safely
on the dry banks,
as if I were a good god.
But a failed one.
Though, who would have known it then?

How Far It Reaches

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Sometimes, missing feels like stone,

a fear that what seems over,

really is over. To be alone,

is no small thing, even though,

it seems, we always are.

Between us, an invisible thread

throws itself out, and stretches—

have you seen a silk thread

blowing itself out with the wind,

reaching, reaching—how far it reaches,

attached to nothing, but air.

Song of the Orange Butterfly, In-Between Shores

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I am sun off water,

spirit, which takes form

Through transformation.

Metamorphosis:

Lowest belly creature,

To this fairytale life.

Yet, I am lost,

Somehow wandered

Between safe shores.

Water everywhere.

And the mud swallows,

Who make their nests

In the river banks,

Desperate for me.

You see, a pretty thing

Can suffer, too:

Frantic beating of wing.

In this short life,

I will both sing,

And cease to be.

Come To Me, I Am Free

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Hate, stealing our moments

And sometimes our lives,

Hanging on to grievance

As if it were a solid thing,

Like a rock, a sturdy branch.

Someone told me,

Bitterness is like drinking poison

And waiting for the other person to die.

Wisdom, like a real branch,

More solid than grief,

Sometimes, more solid

Than the hurt we carry

Like a bag of stones

Over our backs,

Always thinking our burden heavy,

Unable to set it down

And see the world opening

Like the blossoms of the Serviceberry,

Peeking from under pines,

Saying, come to me, I am free,

And, for a moment, we rest

In their waxy, white peace.

The world is a strange place,

How we look to its ugly spots,

So rare,

Compared to its lovely ripples:

The trembling leaves,

The musty smell of grass,

Blue lakes, like mirrors,

Waiting for us to jump free.

The Place Between Us

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      I crossed

That field, weeks before the first pass of the blade,

     Through grass and briars, fog–the night itself

to my thighs, my skirt pulled up that high.

(Claudia Emerson, excerpt from Aftermath)

Today, I stood in the south pasture and looked back at the house,

as if it was another life I was seeing from the outside:

the gables, the stone facade, the windows, the aspen.

The palomino came to me there, and seemed of two worlds.

She crossed over the basalt outcroppings,

her hooves crushing the baby grass and buttercups,

like a bold spirit that moved between life and death

and made me wonder, for a moment, which I inhabited,

or what was real, the house, the horse, the wind, my body–

the words I searched for, to say how much I miss you.

Loping a Horse For the First Time

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To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos…” Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules For Life

At first,

They may try to buck,

But give them the reins

And sit deep in the saddle.

Like everything in life,

No guarantees,

We’re all on the bottom peg,

Really,

When it comes to living,

Or dying,

Or even breaking a leg.

Loping a green horse

Isn’t much different

Than falling in love,

Or growing old.

We like to feel alive,

Sometimes,

We like to fly

On the back of a horse

Learning to run,

With chaos on her back.

Raven Racing a BNSF Train Through Eastern Washington

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Imagine this: an arid countryside

In early spring, wild grasses

Still brown and dormant

From the autumn before,

Cumulus clouds, dark, heavy,

Make it seem like night,

Though your watch says otherwise.

There’s a lake reflecting the clouds,

Known for its rainbow trout,

Which attracts fishermen and birds,

And a BNSF train breaking westward

Toward Moses Lake and Seattle.

Imagine a raven soaring

Over the train, and with it:

The train, with its many orange cars,

The raven, ripping, racing, winning,

And reducing everything to backdrops

and props, objects bowed

By a single, scrappy black bird.

Unity: Horse and Human Together

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“Try to figure out some way to understand this thing the horse is so full of, and that he has such a strong desire to get from the person in return. It has to be togetherness. Mind, Body and Spirit is what we’re talking about here.” Tom Dorrance, True Unity

Our shared emotion,

Seventeen of twenty-seven:

Happiness, worry, fear.

What is it, rising up

Like spirit, from your eyes,

Like heaven. An open field,

Where all that matters is love

And connection, knowing

We are safe from what chases,

Knowing we are strong,

mistakes forgotten, and free.