Wander

Twisted, tangled trails
With sprawling vines and
Dangling branches like
Curious fingertips flickering
In the shifting winds

We wander—we all wander.
One step atop another,
Our foot, paw, claw, and
Hoof prints melded along
Muddled puddled paths

We wander—we all wander.
Purple weeds and fungus
Steps swirling tree trunks
That tower indimidatingly
And must sway sometimes, too

We wander—we all wander.
This road carved by
All of us, forked and branched
By our steps, the blooming
World thriving because
Every single sprout matters

No matter how small

We wander—we all wander.
It begins and it ends the
Same, each road an exciting
Tale of strength, bravery,
Missteps and triumphs. Legend
Left in tracks where we met
To be found by a new traveler

We wander—we all wander.

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Talk to Them

They say that talking to
Plants helps them grow,
That the exchange of
Voice (regardless of tone)
Encourages broader bloom.

I believe the same works
With each other: That
Brighter, bigger, more beautiful
Growth rides the waves
Of our thoughtful voices.

Talk to them. Talk to them all.
Build base for understanding:
For learning, for seeing, for hearing,
And for loving.

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Rest

You’re tough, my girl,
I’ve seen your fight—
Fire deep in your gut,
Dormant and dark until
SNAP!

Your fury bursts in
Colorful flames, a terrifying
Murder of crows searing high
Into the gray and scattering
Clouds.

But when your strength
Seems lost, my dear, when
The void is all you feel,
Rest your sweet head on
Me,

And I’ll fight until your
Embers catch and crackle
Again and anew. Rest now,
Friend, in your darkness,
Rest.

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Tink the Bravest Donkey

It is with a heavy and broken heart to report that our dear, sweet boy, Tink, was laid to eternal rest over the weekend. We had a sudden complication with his special foot and after the emergency vet arrived and worked with us to do everything we could, we had to say goodbye. Our family is devastated by this sudden loss and I’m so sad to have to share this news. Many of you were such loving advocates and supporters of sweet Tink and for that, we are all so grateful. I’d written this poem some time last year for him and decided to share it with all of you today in memoriam. He lives on eternally in our hearts. Forever our boy, Tink. Forever our bravest boy.

Begin Again

Even among 1,000 other donkeys, you stood out:
Your coat, a shining, chocolate brown and
Your ears icinged with textured, creamy white.

You laid lazily in the sand, soft rolls of your
Skin rumpled up around your shoulders and chin
And there, against the piped fence, you were

Embodied peace.

Thin, white lines circled your miles-deep eyes
And I could swear that the sky looked a little
Different around you—tugged by gravity, perhaps.

An equine equivalent to a black hole on Earth,
Your presence pulled my gaze, attention,
And beating heart into the shifting spaces about you.

Much later on in the day, I passed your paddock again
But this time you stood with one, front hoof lifted
And to a feeder of hay, you limped.

“What happened to him?” I asked your temporary caretaker (an angel)
And she said that you, Tink, had been permanently injured and that,
Could you believe it, the injury was caused by human neglect.

They had rescued you.

Your front, left hoof had been removed and left behind
Was exposed tissue—pink, soft, and unprotected.
She said you still needed a home and that they

Were waiting for the perfect home to come around
And like a drop of water on a frying pan, I jumped and said
I’d take you. I didn’t even think, not even for a second.

I’d take you.

Weeks later, you arrived at my house—three hooves
And two boots and all the pulling
Presence you had back at the thousand-donkey ranch.

I don’t know if you remembered me that day,
But when you hopped off that trailer,
You brayed so loud that the birds flew.

I laughed and there were some tears I think
But I was so happy that my home was
Yours now, too.  My magic ranch with chickens

Who tell stories and gardens that reveal
Worlds beneath the dirt. My home was yours
Now too, with Bunny the donkey who thinks

She’s a human mom to me and to us all and
Tee the mini donkey who is content with good hay, good scratches
And good songs with acoustic guitars.

My home was yours now, too, with King Ranch
Who can fix anything that breaks (you, included!) and Little Foot
Who will follow you and learn from you and befriend you.

You were home and that night, when I brushed
Your chocolate, brown coat under the baffled
Stars with Bunny and Tee watching curiously,

This magic ranch felt even more like home
Because you’d finally arrived. You with your
Two, interchangeable boots, had finally arrived.

Not much time passed before you and Tee
Became inseparable—a double tail behind
Bunny who bossed you two around which

Is exactly how I assumed it would be. She’s
A mom at heart, even without her own, born children
And it’s her that’s kept all of us grounded all this time.

My home was yours now, too, with concrete
Blocks marking the graves of fallen birds and
Gates that squeal with time. Rose petals

Sprinkle the lawns all spring and summer long
And in the fall, they’re replaced with millions
Of pecans that crunch satisfyingly beneath your steps.

We’d been waiting for you, you know, which is
Why I think the world pulled me to you that day—
That day I saw you laying there without knowing

Who you were.

It’s been since you arrived that King Ranch and I
Have finally started to make sense of this
Ranch life. This strange place that we moved to

Impulsively, unknowing of the stories waiting to be told.
We’ve cried and we’ve fought and we’ve lost
Sleep over our confusion here but more importantly,

We’ve now found hope. Hope that,
Even though there are people in this world who
Can so profoundly mistreat animals and stand to see their own faces

In a mirror, there’s hope. Even though there are wars
Shedding blood and life in distant lands, there is hope. There are those
Who say that the world will end within our children’s

Lifetime but nevertheless, there’s hope. There’s hope because
You’re alive. By all accounts, you shouldn’t be here
And anyone else would’ve put you down to

Put you out of your misery but guess what
I’ve found? You’re not miserable and in fact, you’re
The happiest, most energetic, most magical

Donkey that’s ever lived.

You defy odds. You defy stereotypes. You defy
All of nature simply by being who you are. You’ve
Brought people together who would’ve otherwise

Never met. You are the story that others need
To hear—the donkey with three hooves whose
Louder and more vibrant than all the other donkeys.

You’re the donkey who cannot be kept down. The donkey who
Manipulates the sky and the stars simply because
He is. The donkey who finally came home and with him,

Brought hope.

We don’t have all the answers and no surprise but,
We never will. We can’t change our pasts, nor
Should we worry about tomorrow. We breathe, moment

By precious moment and you, Tink, my three-hooved
Donkey…you remind us to do this. You remind us that we
Are not limited by our shortcomings but can rather be

Made stronger by them. That we should embrace
About ourselves all of ourselves regardless of the
Stigma or stereotype or strangeness—that simply

By being alive, we are strong.

Tink, my sweet, three-hooved donkey, you remind
Us all to be present—to leave our pasts and our futures
Exactly where they are and stretch out every

Interim second to its fullest size. To breathe in
The air of the now, and to bray and sing and shout
Because life’s just too short to disappear into darkness.

This world can be so unfair. People can be so cruel, so wicked,
So centered around their selfishness that they have no
Idea how their actions affect those around them.

They forget or perhaps they never realized that
All breath pulls from the same sky, pulls from the same trees
And there, we are one.

Inhale, exhale, peace, peace, peace.

But on we go, my dear Tink, on we go dancing and braying
And pouring our molten love and pillowy peace into everything
Around us because at the end of it all, it’s all we can do.

It’s all we should do—love one another, three hooves or four or none—
Love each other so deeply and breathe in the moments so deeply
And be so deeply grateful for life blooming wildly and free around us.

This is our beginning, my friends. This moment. This
Line in a poem, this is our beginning. Breathe in—feel that?
That’s a new beginning, too.

Exhale, begin again. Inhale, begin again. Sing, dance,
Weep, fly, bray, sleep, whatever—begin again.
Be like Tink, the bravest donkey, and breathe.

Inhale, exhale, peace, peace, peace.

Begin again.

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Soon, Sun. Soon.

It’s all so fast today.
It’s all just so fast.
The days are more
like minutes, the Sun
Racing to set and

Leave long, cold
Darkness: bones in the
Cool, dark Earth.

It’s us left to protect
Her warmth. To
Store within ourselves
And let shine her
Healing light.

It’s us who must
Carry her torch in this
Long, deepening dark.

Keep them safe, her
Shards of sparking light.
She’ll come back for
Her shining, broken pieces
Soon. Soon.
So soon.

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The Remington

Moments ago, I began writing a new blog post describing a late night scene from around midnight last night—moon high and air still—when I wondered why I go outside so late so often? Many of my posts have started off with something along the lines of, “It was hovering around midnight when…”

I thought on it for a bit and I think I figured out why I find myself out in the pasture with the donkeys most nights when the only sounds are crickets and distant coyotes:

It seems to me that when I finally settle into that sweet spot in bed where the blanket is tucked up under my neck with just the right amount of tension and my right, lower leg and foot are sticking out of the covers at just the right angle…when the height of the pillow is neither too high nor too low…when the temperature in the house has finally settled at that perfect 72 degrees…that’s where my ole’ pal anxiety wakes up.

“Psssst. Hey. Hey you. Did you lock the doors?
…I don’t think you turned off the stove top…
…Is Little Foot breathing?
…I bet you forgot to turn off the hose that was refilling the donkey’s trough earlier and now your entire property is flooded…
…What did so-and-so mean in that cryptic text message earlier?”

…and so on.

Fight as I might, reassuring myself that yes, I did and checked and figured out (or let go of) all of those things, anxiety just won’t sleep unless I check again. Even my anxiety is anxious. As such, most nights I wander out into the pasture in my jammies and my boots to do one last check on the hoses, the chickens, and the donkeys. The donkeys have come to expect my late night visits—their eager ears perked at their gates when I inevitably show up with a flashlight.

So last night, I stood outside for sometime in the company of my sweet donkeys three as I stared up into a clear sky. It was a half moon and I studied her perfect halfness until she began to look like a cream colored button poking out of a black sky. The stars wandered in and out of focus about her and after I cleaned the smudges from my glasses with my shirt, I spotted a wandering satellite gliding across the sky.

After some time, I bid my donkeys sweet dreams and came back into the house, my anxiety mostly satisfied with my having triple-checked.

Wide awake at this point, I decided to tinker with my new, 80-year old Remington typewriter that was so graciously gifted to me by King Ranch on my birthday over the weekend. It is a beaut, this typewriter: bright red with yellow keys that have years and years of stories stuck beneath them.

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I unlocked its case, set it on the kitchen table, slid in a piece of paper and began to press down what my mind had not yet finished seeing from the outside. I click-clacked over the keys, careful to line up the margins with every line break and to try to spell every word correctly the first time and sometime later, my mind had fully transferred her thoughts onto paper.

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I studied my new poem for a proud moment before placing the cover back on the Remington and heading back to bed. Once resettled, (blanket tucked, leg out, pillow perfect) all I could imagine was the way the keys felt beneath my fingers. Click-clack, click-clack, sliiiiide. Click-clack, click-clack, sliiiiide. The keys are surprisingly heavy, giving my fingertips a challenge. I love that the Remington isn’t sensitive; I’ve got enough fragility elsewhere in my life. The Remington is strong and steady, demanding of my awareness. 

I slept so well last night. I slept heavily and deeply: my dreams wandering down rivers and through trees and I seem to remember a blue backpack and wings.

I won’t jinx it, but perhaps my anxiety who has anxiety has found a new manager named Remington.

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Steady, Steady, Sweet Soul

Above soaring, jagged rocks
The world’s weight tugging
Heavily on your bones;
Her mouth open wide and
Ready for an easy meal…

Wind whipping and howling
With voices from deep underground,
Voices that you swore were buried
Beneath stone and time,
Their smokey doubts swirling about…

Above bird songs where
Clouds roll with secrets;
Air streaming thinly through
Your rising and falling lungs
Quickening with the thump thump thump of your heart…

There, plant tightly your tired feet,
Steady your scattered soul,
Reach deep into your gut, raw and rank
And realize the horizon-reaching,
Broader and more complex view within.

Realize that you are riddled with rolling secrets, too
And with beauty beyond written words
With often old voices shaping your moves.
Realize that the universe within you
Is worth beholding, worth admiring,

Worth travelling far and taking risks
To see and feel and inhale deeply into.
Realize that and
You, my love,
You, my friend,
You, my stranger,
You,

Will set your sweet soul free.

Edges

Summertime Curmudgeon

For some…
Summer is fruit drinks after being tanned,
Walks with popsicles and toes in the sand.
It brings surfboards with tiny two-piece fun
For hours and days beneath that never ending sun.

But for me, no way, I’m not budgin’:
For I am that notorious, summertime curmudgeon.

They run with joy, the summer folk
With coconut oil on their skin to soak
The kisses that the sun sends down
Flipping over any summertime frown.

Except for mine, this frown ain’t turnin’:
For I am that notorious, summertime curmudgeon.

Their speakers blare with top-forty pop
While glasses clink and selfies swap
From person to smiling person so hot
I think I might want to join them…NOT.

I pull my shades closed, my Netflix a-runnin’:
For I am that notorious, summertime curmudgeon.

An eternity it seems that the summer is here
And in Texas it sometimes lasts all year.
I should move way up north where there’s snow and big moose
And I’m far, far away from tropical smoothies and juice.

But that requires effort; I’m too busy being shut-in:
For I am that notorious, summertime curmudgeon.

Only a few more months, I can do this, I can.
Then autumn will come: I’ll make pies with pē-kan!
The leaves will turn colors and die and fall down
And then it will not be me with a frown.

Until then, in ice-blasting A/C I’ll be bummin’:
For I am that notorious, summertime curmudgeon.

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