The Belly River

unspools sinuous and lithe

through the glacier valleys

of northern Montana;

so named, I learned, for its likeness

to the splayed innards of a bear,

that being whose presence

still presides over all things 

in that country

Evan, Lee, and I

walked three days along...

Seeking to be free,

I invite you into the room

All around is my inheritance,

amassed over millennia

It is the spoils of war,

all that which I did not earn,

which I did not ask for

I say to you, in my voice,

which itself

was not come by honestly,

Make of this place what you will,


Two days ago, after being privileged with the opportunity of speaking to group of students about my relationship with animals, and particularly snakes, a student asked, “Why these snakes in particular?” The question was referring to the Amazonian puffing snakes (Spilot...

I cannot say

how many times I came,

how many gifts

I laid upon the rocks,

the cobbled banks

Always with 

the same request - 

No Name Creek,

let me remember

thy names

And never

for years a reply

I could decode,

for all my persistence

and devotion

Until one evening,

I came with empty ha...

A week into March -

red tails courting,

their talon bound freefall

in view of snow melting,

filling creeks on Cobb, 

and songbirds setting

to singing life into

being again

Sometimes, this

love splits me asunder

like dry pine on the block

I shudder at costs,

the forethought of loss...

How lovely, the eyes

of a lizard, so keen and honest

Like those of this

common fence lizard,

the one who has just now

tilted his head at an angle,

so as better to behold me

He gazes, making some

appraisal of my character,

for what must be a long time

in the life of a lizard,


In dream,

in the desert day,

my child self comes

bearing a hatchling snake,

its pattern half mottled

and half striped

I take his hands in mine,

show him the way to become

one with serpent, to become

the substrate, so as not

to grasp, so as to guide

and let glide

Kneeling down

we pl...

Before she left,

holding her thermos

of hot coffee,
into the predawn,
I said, May you see
a long-tailed weasel

That slender,

lithe, little carnivore,

made of equal parts

play and mischief,

which had eluded me

all these years.

So, later

when she said,

Guess what,
I knew it...

It was near nightfall
when we descended upon the cave,

its opening a broad maw
like the mouth of a catfish,

tapering into deeper reaches
of darkness

We crawled up to the basin -
a small pool, no larger in diameter

than a dinner plate, its depth
at most six inches.
It wa...

There are moments when
this machine of degradation
appears almost immaculate -
like a grand weaving
whose warps and wefts
are so well interlaced
as to construct an illusion
that one must accept as real
and inescapable.

And yet it is not seamless. 

There are also m...

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