Saturday, June 11, 2011

Donal Og

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.
You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.
You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.
You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.
When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.
It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday.
And myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.
My mother said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.
My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith's forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you that put that darkness over my life.
You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The weight of remembering-

The past comes to those who have chosen
to take up the burden.
It becomes a tangible thing
It’s weight unable to bear it’s self.
And it’s loss,
Though often unrecognized,
No less a wound born by the living.

It comes at times a comfort.
It asks of us to enter,
To remain and to be steadfast.

When we are equal to it’s measure-
There is a joyous stirring in the graves
Like a child turning in the womb
Those unseen, gone from us, and unborn…
Those whom we are looking toward,
Those to whom we belong;
Are freed from their eternal bonds
And with joy they wait…
Or in peace they rest.

Offten it comes a burden-
when unequal to it’s measure
We are haunted by the ghosts
Of those who bore our same burden,
Or burdens of greater weight;
With greater patience,
Or with greater humility,   
Or both.

But the dead make no judgment.
What rest could we have, with contempt in our hearts?
And those who will come after us
Bear no ill regard for our failures.
Who would sow seeds in hope that they might fail?
Who would not hope
That after a time in darkness,
What they had planted
Would not be made
One day
see the light?

Surely no ghost haunts the alleys,
Nor the doorstep, nor forests, nor the night.
No phantom stalks the dawn,
Or our rest.
Only the fear that we be unworthy
Of those whom we have loved....  
Can keep us from our joyous sleep.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Very Late

I am awake because I can not sleep. I have no desire to sleep, I have been awake for over twenty hours, I will pay dearly in the morning (for this) but it is beyond my control. I can not sleep.
  I am looking at my right foot. Once I sold my right foot. There is a curve to my right foot, while my big toe is straight, the other four toes seam to have their own ideas. Once I sold my left foot. I sold each hair on my head. I sold every thing in between. The cost was nothing.... I gave them away. To dispel the notion that ownership carries with it some inherent and just stewardship, I would like to offer my right foot...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

St. Francis and the sow

St. Francis And The Sow 
The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
Galway Kinnell

Tripping Over Joy

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?
The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Seattle, Wa. February 2011

    Once again I am amazed, though not surprised, at the twists and turns of my life. Yesterday I started North on I-5 from the farm caring nearly 700lbs. of pork. Not surprising I ended up in Seattle...... I know...
   What was wonderful and amazing though, was the reception and hospitality that we received once we got there. Chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi at Revel (N. Fremont Seattle, Wa.) were fantastic! With in seconds of arriving we were welcomed into their restaurant, offered drinks and food, and generally treated like kings. Funny that I was traveling with Bubba King (of the collective) so maybe this kind of treatment is standard for him... (No really... That's his real name)
   What I have come to love about this job is the opportunity it affords me to be in the Field in the morning, and by afternoon I'm sitting in one of Seattle's best restaurants, eating the most amazing food I have had in ages!!! The genuine warmth with which we were received was such a pleasure after the van ride up; and I am truly grateful to Rachel and Seif... How they are running two restaurants, raising a seven month old, and have just bought a new house is beyond me.... How they operate with such humor, warmth, and genuine concern after all that..... Is truly a miracle!    
   Next it was on to Jason Stratton's "Spinasse" a modern Itialian restaurant on 14th and pine (one block off pike). Finding a parking place in that neighborhood alone was near impossible.... And getting a 220lb. whole pig down the street and in the door.... That was a  feat of shear brilliance on my part... I employed one construction worker, and two movers from the building next door, while a Jewish fella took photos... Actually he was Kosher, and though he had no problem helping to move a pig... he just wasn't going to eat any of it.... I made him the photographer....
   Again the generosity and humor of strangers is more than simply helpful... It is a joy and a pleasure. My thanks to thoses fella's for their help, and alot of laughs...
   Spinasse is a small modern Italian restaurant with maybe 20 tables and maybe eight seats at a hi-top table/bar looking into the kitchen. Jason Stratton and his business partner opened the restaurant to rave reviews and distinguished awards. I am really looking forward to this weekend and Sunday's event...!
   Among other things, The day here has been rainy, windy, and we've had, hail, snow, and sleet! I've spent the most of it in doors wondering if I've grown soft in my new found old age... But then with the thought of all the animals fed, and bedded down well, I let my mind relax, and look forward to tomorrow....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Morning Wallowa Co. 2008

It's strange,
so often It seems to me,
that I am so very much whole,
and yet,
at the same time,
so very incomplete.
Each day I travel from one into the next,
through darkness into light.
I put on my boots,
gather my dogs, and drive across the valley to work.
I like the idea of my self driving to work.
I like the sound and feel of my truck.
I like the way my boots lay on the floor board.
Gwen sitting beside me,
surounded by the clutter of my life.
My St. Joseph Statue,
my tools,
scraps of paper,
birds nests I have found,
marbles I have found,
my tool bag,
When I am driving in the early morning, I am defined by the day ahead of me.
contained by the labor that is expected of me,
and proud to see it's completion.
Satisfied in a thing well done.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter Wallowa Co. 2002

Morning never comes early
It is late winter.
The days have a hint of spring to them,
but by sundown'v lost all aspirations of warmth...
And so the snow drifts remain,
banked against the rims above the bench.

The ranch sits two thirds the way up Doe Cr. canyon from the river,
and two miles up and across from Merlin Canyon.
It sits on a bench running the length of the canyon for two miles.
For the most part
at first glance
the house, barns, and sheds seem to fit into their surroundings,
but on closer examination it's apparent
that at this time of year-
nothing fits.

The cattle are crowded into four pastures,
with feed bunks in each,
And dilapidated hay stacks with in those.
The cattle's feet suck and slide over the soft muddy ground
leaving the Fields torn and battered.
The feed bunks were old and rotten,
patched with boards, nails, and bailing wire in an attempt to hold them more year.

The house sits in the middle of the bench,
the snow around it pushed every which way and direction with the cat.
The ground is naked where the blade has run too deep
leaving the earth torn,

Along the roads and barn yards
there are track and tire marks.
The ground left resembling
the battered,
scarred, face of a brawler
who's found the limit of his strength.

But the earth is innocent.
And like a battered wife
She takes the blows year after year
with what dignity she can;
until finally,
long before her time,
she's haggard and worn.

And year after year,
like a violent husband,
with tractor,
and truck,
cat, and cow,
the ground is punished,
and bruised.
Degraded out of ignorance,
lack of care,
and economic necessity.

There is no love here.
No love for the land or the stock.
No respect for their limits
Or for their inocence.
The beauty of this place is forgotten,
Neglected and forced into an economic struggle,
Pride is turned to contempt for any thing that stands in the way of survival.
Wild fish, the elk, and deer.....
Good horses, good fences, grass, anything old,
the very ground it's self and it's well being
now either obsolete or irrelevant,
for no other reason than survival,
they have to be taken into account for the sake of having something left to sustain the struggle
And to keep ahead of the bills and the taxes.

I pity this place and the people who make their living from it.
There is no chance in this generation or the next of anything dignified coming from this ground.
Only a burdensome way to make a living.

There has been something lost on these last generations of land owners,
many of them anyway.

Tradition has been lost,
stewardship has been lost,
reverence, and love has been lost.
Replaced by tractors, chemicals, and fertilizers, ear tags, hydraulic augers, television, tin pole barns, four wheelers, paved roads, high freight costs, new pickups, super markets, ready made TV dinners (just add water!) and breakfast from a box.

It's not been a concise degradation, but one made over time.
Pushed on farmers and ranchers by big business and their sales reps.

"Higher yield!

"Less work!"

"Higher gains, and more money!"

All of it fed into the agricultural main stream and quoted like gospel.
The only price of salvation being your mortal soul.....
                                                                    Sold into eternal debt.

With nothing better to say....

Days have turned to weeks, and the weeks are turning to months. St. Patrick was sent to tend to the pigs after his capture and enslavement, and he was to become one of the greatest of Saints. My father is with him, and I am here. The farm continues to sustain my animals, though we are running very low on grain.
  Tomorrow I take Harriet to the butcher. She has been of all the pigs, my very favorite. I could have taken her to the auction today and gotten a few dollars for her, but the thought of sending her through the ring (handled roughly by those fools) is too much. Some thanks that would be for all her contribution to the farm. I gave her to my butcher. I like him, and he will treat her well.
   Nine of the market hogs leave with the buyer at 11am. I fed them their last meal on the farm tonight.... I have done as best I can for them, and soon it will be done. I'm alright with this. It is my responsibility to see to them from birth until the end, the out come of their life as inevitable as mine. What is of importance is not so much the end, but the days and how we spent them. I am alright with this.