Secret Places — Autumn in New Mexico


As we move past October’s frenzy

of balloons and beer fests,

we begin to settle in for the days

of crisp mornings and bright colors.

The calm after the storm.


Farewell dear friends. This is our reward.

This is a time to hold for yourself.

This is a time to revisit those secret places.

This is when the crowds move out and we

enjoy El Malpais on our own terms.


As places go, we are a scrawny bunch

tucked in between the mountains and the desert.

Camped out along the long slow river

or sprinkled across the high plains.

We wouldn’t want it any other way.


We come to know places as our own

although we have no right to do so.

We speak of them sometimes only to friends

who might share their own secret places.

Or might not.


These are sanctuaries of our souls.

These are places of peace we hold dear.

We revere the wind and the stars that shine

there like caretakers even when we are away.

The secret places await our return.


     *     *     *

The Home Place — 2017

(Images shown are from the [not so secret] Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument on the east flanks of the Jemez Mountains near Cochiti Pueblo.)



“It’s all Holy Land” – Rio Grande del Norte

“It’s all Holy Land” – Anonymous


Rio Grande del Norte National Monument is one of several national monuments designated over the past few years by Donald Trump’s predecessors that are now targeted for reduction in size or changes in administrative rules. This monument was established to preserve water and land resources along the Rio Grande as well as the cultural and religious sites important to the local Indian and Hispanic people in the area.

The Rio Grande Gorge offers scenic and recreational opportunities as it slices through the Taos Plateau. This is all part of the Rio Grande Rift and the area is dotted by ancient volcanoes…including San Antonio Mountain.

Large elk and deer herds gather here during the winter. Local people had an important role in establishing and supporting the monument which is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Historic grazing rights established under Spanish and Mexican land grants were protected and incorporated into the monument’s administrative rules.


Opening up this area to development, oil drilling and mining activity will only benefit big oil and mining interests and destroy this resource.


There are few places left where all you hear is the sound of the wind.


Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the distance. A hazy view caused by forest fires in the west. We don’t need a golf course here.

     *     *     *

The Home Place — 2017


Cow Camp Poetry

(Upon the occasion of a visit toOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
an old cow camp.)

These last few years I’ve grown right fond
of Cowboy poetry.
It’s sometimes rude and often crude
but it brings a smile to me.




These guys would live far from a town
and tell a tale or two
of chasin’ cows and birthin’ calves
while eatin’ Hector’s stew.

They’d speak of Stinky Pete for sure
and often Cactus Jack
and though they’d never seen it,
that tattoo on Juana’s back.



But when they found themselves alone
out on that dusty flat
their horse and dog* just didn’t care
of Cowboy this and that.


They lived a life upon the range
or some lofty high plateau
for half a buck a day and grub
and a million-dollar view.


Raber Cow Camp is preserved on Grand Mesa as an example of what the old high-country cow camps were like. There’s a spring for fresh water and a couple cabins.  This is out on Lands End Road far from civilization and was last occupied in 1966 though it dates to the 1940s. The other abandoned cow camps on Grand Mesa have been pulled down as hazardous.

*The cowboy’s dog reference was inserted simply so I could post the following poem by Cowboy Poet, Bud Storm…not typical but I like it…


I taught my good dog Maggie
“Lay down” when I commanded.
I also taught her “set”
Whenever I demanded.
“I’ll teach her now to speak,” said I.
She labored to comply.
And when she learned to speak, she said,
“You twit, it’s ‘sit’ and ‘lie.'”

     *     *     *

The Home Place — 2017




I Have Loved the Stars Too Fondly to be Fearful of the Night



Moonless starry sky

peeks through a lace cloud curtain.

Pleiades appears.

This is sort of an early ‘heads up’. Mark your calendars for August 12th. That’s my birthday as well as the peak of the Perseids meteor shower. If God ordained that I should be born on the date of the annual Perseids meteor shower then the least I should do is give thanks and stay up to watch the show. I’ve been doing this every year since I was about twelve years old and I’m turning 69, if all goes as planned. That’s fifty-seven years of watching falling stars light up the night sky.  I have friends around the country and in other countries who go out to watch the Perseids for my birthday.  It’s sort of a gift that they give themselves for my birthday. I invite you to join in. Just let me know what you see. This should be a good year.

I delight in the night sky.


(The title comes from the poem “The Old Astronomer” by Sarah Williams, 1837 – 1868)

The Home Place — 2017

The Gift From Heaven

Today the sky rises as a vault of a baroquian chapel
ringed with clouds and vapors. Where are the cherubs?
There should be cherubs. Somebody cue the Angels.
The purest blue. The flawless White.
Bring out the palette of colors in between.
Look up!!

I’m puzzled on days like this to see so few heads
turned skyward. This is a gift from heaven.
Even the landscape stands in awe.
Where is the orchestra?
On this same day, quite by accident, my eyes find
the last stanza of Shelley’s The Cloud…

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,

And the nursling of the Sky;

I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;

I change, but I cannot die.

For after the rain when with never a stain

The pavilion of Heaven is bare,

And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams

Build up the blue dome of air,

I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,

And out of the caverns of rain,

Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,

I arise and unbuild it again.


     *     *     *

Enchanted, More or Less — 2017




Slip Over the Edge


Quietly slip over the edge
Disappear without a trace.
Follow the old trails.

The canyon trails are worn smooth
by bare feet or reed sandals.
Centuries old hand-holds are still there.

Trails wind down to hidden pools.
Deep shade is cool below the canyon rim.
Hot sunlight is a stranger down here.


The breeze builds toward the afternoon
channeled up the walled canyon.
It’s cool among the willows.

A dove bathes in the shallow stream.
A hummingbird hovers for an instant
checking you out.

Time passes slowly down here but
centuries could skip by unobserved;
quietly slipping over the edge.


     *     *     *

Enchanted, More or Less – 2017


A Little Backyard Drama

A recent domestic drama played out in the back yard with the local Scaled Quail family….


Him: Your chicks are in the bushes again
Her: My chicks? What do you mean my chicks?? WTF?


Him: You laid them.    Hey! Hey you kids — get out of the bushes! —- Don’t make her come down there.


Her: Me?? (Gives him that look that all husbands will recognize)  — You got a broken wing or something?

Him:  Nah…I’m busy. I’m on lookout duty.
Her:  Oh yeah?  I’ll give you something to lookout for…

(With a little prodding, they both went after the chicks.)

     *     *     *

The Home Place — 2017