Sagebrush Kings

The sagebrush kings
with bony crowns
patrol the mountainside,
pacing well-worn paths
and pausing periodically to watch.
Ears high,
eyes straining,
nostrils wide,
they keep their silent vigil.
A sound,
a movement,
an unfamiliar smell
is an invitation to a war
that they can never win.
A huff calls the retreat
into their scrub oak strongholds
where they’ve ruled
for countless seasons
and forged their gaudy diadems
on an anvil made of caution.

Conquered Mountains

There’s clarity that comes with height
when we pace the top of the world
where only the wind
and the deer live.
We place ourselves above civilization,
which looks both physically better 
and fundamentally worse
the farther away you move from it.
The tar-filed cracks in broken pavement,
the gray, oppressive clouds of smog,
the constant noise of our machines
fade as you climb until
the world is laid out before you 
in distant, unobtainable perfection,
and it’s hard to know why
no one else down there can see 
with perfect clarity 
the obvious solutions we have found
to humanity’s most persistent demons 
when we’ve climbed and conquered mountains.