Incident on the Road to Tupman
artwork by Rene Castro
A fledgling dove just above me
concealed among pistachio leaves
panics as I walk by,
trespassing in a corporate grove.
Startled, I share with her
the fear so close to us all—
bird and man
and the orphaned infant coyote
I’m following with a cup of water.
Thin and ephemeral, frightened,
with no hope of survival,
he keeps dancing away from me.
Sad. But that wingtip
flicking the back of my neck
has reassured me somehow,
though there are no words to say why.
Competing for Apricots
A crow fatter than a pullet
with a beak like a case-hardened chisel
perches on a fencepost:
You can tell how self-assured he is,
how he takes on life with élan,
knowing he will be fed
in this world of unlimited insects,
roadkill replenished every night,
lizards dozing in the sun,
and rumors among the corvids
about this summer’s first ripe apricots.
I’ve been watching that tree myself.
Night Music at Deep Wells Farm
Only an owl, of course,
and not somebody alone in the dark
who has come across an odd flute
and breathes into it without much skill—
the fingering too hard to learn,
the simplest tune elusive.
But whoever it is keeps sounding,
again and again, compulsively,
the only note no one wants to hear.
Don Thompson is the current (and inaugural) Kern County Poet Laureate in California. His books include A Journal of the Drought Year, Local Color, Everything Barren Will Be Blessed, and Back Roads, winner of the 2008 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize. He was born in Bakersfield, California, and has lived most of his life in the southern San Joaquin Valley, which provides the setting for most of his poems. Don and his wife Chris live on her family’s farm near Buttonwillow in the house that has been home to four generations. More of his work can be found at http://www.don-e-thompson.com/
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June 04, 2017
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