Bruce Holsapple | 1 poem

Thick & Thin


Walked down into Carizzozo Canyon 
& across to the north end of
the Bear Mountains, tracing a small, strange arroyo 
up to the crest, but then got tempted to see 
from a better vantage, then another
& so wandered deep thru
the dozen or so small peaks to the east
where I promptly lay down
giddy from the elevation 
& fell asleep, hot sun, no relief—
The downward trek, legs weak 
steep embankment, you need 
check each step against 
the momentum, or you’re soon 
tumbling out over yourself
& it always takes more effort 
than you’ve allowed, descending, 
but see Little Bear Spring
by the yellowing cottonwoods below
keep that to the left, until I’m
back in the basin, ankles achy
climb for the truck at 6 
come home lame, pretty much used    
but oddly elated


Junipers hereabouts grow to 
fifteen feet or so (lack of moisture, 
punishing winds), & as they age, the needles 
brown off in sections, twigs snap, the bark splits 
& the twisted gray limbs jut out 

One doesn’t often think of trees 
as animate, yet the bony wood emanating 
from the living green
clearly meanders thru the air

& the dead wood stands for decades
such that one walks a ground living & dead share, 
or rather, one shares thoughts
between the two
the convolute limbs
inevitably hearkening back
a reversal of sorts 
dense overcast sky
lending branches to your thought—
dream a prior life forward

or that the dead travel in mind 
toward the living (much like friends do 
in memory)  

but the suggestion of struggle—
no doubt it’s my age—
the whorled limbs caught out    
on display as if arrested, as if death might lean     
into that life at moments to reveal             
a higher purpose


Graveled trickle of a mountain spring
down the tortured, rocky slope
luster of wet sand
& the dirt embankment
slowly inching up, indeed soon a gully 
the passage thickening with willows, 
& I’m dumb-struck 
by the murky path I’ve soon 
got to waddle thru, slurry zig-zag track
the intricate ways of water & clay  
search for gravelly spots
but you can only stand there
momentarily before they drop
into goopy stuff, & I’m
slogging, sliding thru mud
virtually in the thick of it
wet & desperate to get aside or above—
clay banks now towering
25 feet up—depth of engagement 
for sure! but crawl, worm, lurch
over the bank, scratched & dirty  
Who would have guessed


Several years back, I also napped
atop the Manzanos, after struggling 
thru Red Canyon to Gallo Peak, 
waking at 10,000 feet
to see 7-8 turkey vultures
circling above, floating close, closer
& I thought this was hilarious!
squinting up at them—
the finality of the moment:
you not only can’t last forever,
the vultures are moving in!


Lightning to the west & north 
gray-bellied clouds 
maybe ten miles off
advancing east—
gradually the thunder sharpens    

A light show in store tonight 
move boxes & such under the roof 
close down the electronics
unplug the TV

Grateful for the downpour
but always at some risk
roads washed out
the phone line zapped, fires

That's what you bump into
need tally benefit against cost
but otherwise the raw impact    
love to hear it roar
whack, kaboom & pour 

Spectacular yellow flashes
gray clouds illuminated, night sky,
hellatious rain popping off the metal roof
pummeling the trees, ground

You wouldn't know rain
hitting, soaking the dirt
could be such a welcome sound
& of course I’m safely inside
encased as it were

The pounding intensifies
the ground puddles 
rivulets, gullies
streaking the land
then swells into turgid
brown arroyos—


Bruce Holsapple works as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Magdalena, NM, where he makes his home.  He has published seven books of poetry, most recently Wayward Shadow (La Alameda Press, 2013).  A book-length study of Williams’’s poetry, The Birth of the Imagination, was published by the University of New Mexico in November 2016.


3 thoughts on “Bruce Holsapple | 1 poem

  1. First of all, I love Magdalena. Secondly, the land Bruce wrote about is familiar. The hikes that are harder than you were thinking about when you started. The tiny “creeks.” And the huge storm heard from beneath a tin roof. All magnificent! Thank you! (And thank you for your work as a speech and language therapist.)


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