Stephen Page

The Complexity of Managing Ranch Employees

have you found that simple arithmetic

seems like physics,

or does that not bother you anymore,

only bore you, tire you.

have you finally learned to say,

“this is not my fault.”

have you finally learned

that learning is to save yourself.

On a Winter Walk

Garner some violets,

Teresa said to me,

They are perceptually constant,

Under the trees.

This Morning

This morning

the eucalypti and sycamores

are shrouded in a smoky fog.

Trunks and branches are the horizon,

leaves are ashen sky.

This is good sign,

for fog means moisture,

and it has not rained on Santa Ana

for two months.

The parrots are silent.

Jonathan misses their jazzy symphony.

He hears neither the flute

of the mockingbird

nor the screech

of the baker bird.

He does not see the spread wings

of chimangos overhead,

though one is on the yellow pond

of winter lawn

worming beside a wood dove.

He hears waves crashing

on a shore,

Though that is impossible,

as the sea is 200 kilometers away.

He hears the river lapping

with its salty tongue;

he sees stalks of flamingo legs,

the pink clouds of their bodies

(but the river is thirteen

kilometers away).

He tastes the rain

on his outstretched tongue.

He feels cool drops mist his body.

He stands shirtless outside his office,

engulfed in drought

and cold fog,

knowing that the cows are calving

and that they and the horses

are beginning to show their ribs.


Stephen Page is the author of The Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions. He holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University, and an MFA from Bennington College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize for Poetry. He loves to teach, ranch, and spend time with his family.