Elk Hills Road
The air has been rain-washed,
turning grunge to faded Alice blue—
so clear, unless
the mind makes its own haze,
that you can see
among the hills, miles away,
the hard edges of every gulch and shadow:
An austere, unambiguous landscape
in which you can lose yourself for an hour
and have nothing to brood about.
Parsons Home Ranch
Not dawn yet, but an ambient glow
The horse trough is a black mirror
with no image in it,
even before I shatter the ice;
and frost on the alfalfa
is dull and morose, gray as lint,
somehow unable to receive the light.
Buena Vista Slough, south of Hwy 58
Burnt umber and a morbid yellow,
nothing but sagebrush so dry
it crumbles if you touch it:
This is desolate land.
Coyotes have no more use for it
than most humans. Maybe
that’s why a few jack rabbits
choose to live out here,
undisturbed, solitary minimalists
that know how to feed on scrub.
Syndex Road, Ecological Preserve
Nothing much left if anything to feed on
here in the ash gray and ecru
larder of the sagebrush.
With no seeds, no insects, and no empty
promises to keep them around,
there’s not a bird anywhere…
And then one hawk lifts off,
floating along just above the ground
as slowly as possible—
hesitant to burn calories
not easily replenished.
Don Thompson was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, and has lived in the southern San Joaquin Valley for most of his life. Thompson has been publishing poetry since the early sixties, including a dozen books and chapbooks. For more information and links to his publications, visit his website San Joaquin Ink (don-e-thompson.com).