BrooksLooks @ Snake in the Road

Snake in the Road

it started with a garter snake
flattened in the street
the harmless little garden kind
whilst squished, was rather neat

“they’re the good ones” people quip
“they couldn’t ever hurt”
like the big fat slithery black ones
down there in the dirt

let them go their merry way
it’s the herpetological code
but to some it’s open season on the highway
when they’re stretched across the road

in Appalachia
copperheads make you think twice
the poison ones come at ‘ya and
the timber rattlers ain’t half as nice

but out in Arizona
the snakes have all turned pro
so you better watch out, out there
if that’s where yer plannin’ to go

see there’s twenty kinds of diamondbacks
they stare out of those rocky cracks
and that lightning fast Mojave kind
say your prayers if one attacks

sonoran racers and whip snakes
are colorful and mellow
but a coral snake bite is all it takes
‘cause “red and yellow kills a fellow”

it’s a queasy kind of feeling though
for even a ranch-worn drover
who sees a diamondback with tire tracks
when his pickup runs one over

there ain’t no moral to the tale
when it comes to deadly snakes
avoid ’em on the trail fer sure
but on the road avoid the brakes

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury / BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ Turkey Creek Caldera

TURKEY CREEK CALDERA

Brooks Bradbury

CORONADO RODE RIGHT BY HERE

THOUGH HE DIDN’T HAVE A CLUE

THERE WAS GOLD IN CHIRICAHUA

AND QUITE A LOVELY VIEW

A SWEET, SECRET CHAPARRAL

FORGED LONG AGO IN A FIERY HELL

VIOLENT FORCES AND SEISMIC SHOCK

LEFT A BUCOLIC BOWL OF MOLTEN ROCK

NOW A TRANQUIL, REMOTE CALDERA

SACRED HOME OF APACHE AND VAQUERO

WHERE BLOOD WAS SPILLED ON RHYOLITE

CHOKONEN WAYS LOST IN EVERY FIGHT

DOWN THROUGH THE AGES

DESPITE THE WISDOM OF SAGES

HUMAN TURMOIL RAGES

ON NATURE’S SWEET STAGES

MAY THE PEACE WE FIND HERE REMAIN IN OUR SOULS

ITS GOLDEN SILENCE EVER CONSOLES

AND MAY THIS RARE BEAUTY ENDEAVOR

TO GO ON LIKE THIS

BEYOND FOREVER

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | BROOKS LOOKS (Written at Sunglow Ranch, Pearce, Arizona)

BrooksLooks @ Delirium

DELIRIUM
Brooks Bradbury

YOU TRIED TO LEAVE
YOU SOLD YOUR SOUL
NOW IT’S YOU WHO’S IN THE HOLE
SEEMS YOU WERE JUST A BRIDGE FOR US
A HERE-TO-THERE WITH TOO MUCH FUSS
YOU TRIED TO GET THE SHIP TO SINK
NOW IT’S YOU WHO’S SUNK, ‘S WHAT PEOPLE THINK
YOUR MACHINATIONS WORE MIGHTY THIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKIN’ IN
LET ME GET MY VIOLIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKIN’ IN

WATER RISING IN A SHIVER
YOU HELPED US CROSS A LITTLE RIVER
YOU ROSE AND PEAKED A SHORT TIME LATER
WE SMILED AT EACH ALLIGATOR
AS WE REACHED THE OTHER SHORE
YOU TAPERED OFF TO BUT A SLIVER
OVER SUCH A SLOW AND GENTLE RIVER
BOTH SIDES OF YOU ARE NOW MUCH CLEARER
TAKE A LOOK INTO THE MIRROR
HOLD OFF ON YOUR FINAL BOW
YOU WERE BUT A PATH FROM THERE TO HERE
A BRIDGE ACROSS THEN AND NOW

YOU TRIED TO LEAVE
YOU SOLD YOUR SOUL
NOW IT’S YOU WHO’S IN THE HOLE
SEEMS YOU WERE JUST A BRIDGE FOR US
A HERE-TO-THERE WITH TOO MUCH FUSS
YOU TRIED TO GET THE SHIP TO SINK
IT’S YOU WHO’S SUNK, S’ WHAT PEOPLE THINK
YOUR MACHINATIONS ARE MIGHTY THIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
HOLD OFF ON THAT GREAT BIG GRIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
I’LL ROSIN UP MY VIOLIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

LIFE’S HARD ENOUGH WITHOUT TWO FACED LIARS
PERHAPS THEY SIMPLY CROSSED THEIR WIRES
BUT LIFE CAN BE A LOT MORE FUN
NOW THE BASTARDS ‘R ON THE RUN
CAN FINALLY SEE THE SHINING SUN
NOW THE BASTARDS ‘R ON THE RUN
TRAPPED IN THE SILKY WEB THEY’VE SPUN
BASTARDS ARE FINALLY ON THE RUN
AND OUR SPIRITS WON’T COME UNDONE
NOW THE BASTARDS ‘R ON THE RUN

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Tears in Chiricahua

TEARS IN CHIRICAHUA

Brooks Bradbury

November 2013

ANCIENT CHIRICAHUA

SACRED LONG AGO

NOW CALLED ARIZONA

THEIR ANCESTRAL HOME

THEIR MOUNTAINS AND

THEIR GRASSLANDS

THE PLACES

THEY ROAMED THEN

NOW ONLY TRACES,

OF ‘NDE CHOKONEN

GENERATIONS CAME BEFORE THEM

UNKNOWN APACHE HEIRS

NATIVE BLOOD SPILLED TOO OFTEN

DEFENDING WHAT WAS THEIRS

WHO THEN ONE DAY WILL ATONE

FOR THEIR BROKEN HEARTS

EACH APACHE BROKEN BONE

THEIR BODIES DIED YET SANCTIFY

THEIR CHIRICAHUAS STILL

UNBROKEN NATIVE SPIRITS

UNBROKEN NATIVE WILL

THEIR VOICES WHISPER IN THE SILENCE

SPIRITS ROAM NOW WITHOUT FEARS

WHEN IT RAINS IN CHIRICAHUA

IT RAINS APACHE TEARS

© Brooks Bradbury | Innspired Hospitality

BrooksLooks @ Chiricahua Cowboy

CHIRICAHUA COWBOY
Brooks Bradbury
September 2013

THE COOK REPORTED LONGHORNS
WERE COMING IN THE GATE
BUCKAROOS AT BREAKFAST
SOME WERE IN THE BUNK HOUSE
SOME WERE SLEEPING LATE

PRIT’ NEAR EIGHT MEAN CORRIENTE
AMBLED RIGHT UP THE OLD DIRT ROAD
POINTY HORNS A GLINTING
THEY LUMBERED TO AND FRO

THEY WERE FREE RANGE BEEF WITH ATTITUDE
AND IN ONE BY ONE THEY FILED
DANGED IF THEY DIDN’T GIT PAST THE CATTLE GRATES
LIKE A FARSIDE CARTOON GONE WILD

CHIRICAHUA COWBOY
HE’S ON HIS HORSE AGAIN
WE NEVER KNOW WHY
WE NEVER KNOW WHEN
BUT HE’S THE HOPE OF ARIZONA
LEAST FROM GLEESON TO PORTAL
THE CHIRICAHUA COWBOY
HE’S THE ONE THAT GETS THE CALL
ANY TIME ‘R OYSTER’S ARE UP AGAINST THE WALL
THE CHIRICAHUA COWBOY, HE WILL SAVE US ALL!

ONE WAS UDDERLY FEMALE
IT WAS PLAINLY CLEAR TO SEE
QUEEN OF THE RODEO HEIFERS
ANOTHER RATHER BULLISH ONE
HE KEPT EYEING ME

THE CHIRICAHUA COWBOY
HE SAUNTERED INTO VIEW
HE WORE HIS LEATHER JACKET WITH FRINGE
SMELLED LIKE BEER AND LAST NIGHT’S STEW
BOXER SHORTS AND COWBOY BOOTS
HIS PANTS STILL IN HIS ROOM

HE HAD SPURS, A WHIP, TWO FORTY-FIVES
AND HE WAS ITCHING FOR A FEUD
THE CHIRICAHUA COWBOY
LOST BIG AT POKER AND LOVE LAST NIGHT
HE WAS ONE BIG ANGRY DUDE

HE WAS READY TO SETTLE THE SCORE
AND PUT THOSE BEEVES BACK IN THE PEN
A BEEFLY DUEL WAS COMING ON, IT SEEMED
WHILE IN THE SAGE, FRESH COWPIES STEAMED
THE HEIFER HUDDLED THE OTHERS THEN
WEIGHT WAS SHIFTED
HORNS WERE POINTED
THE BEEVES THEN THUNDERED IN

ALL OF A SUDDEN THE BRAWL COMMENCED
BULL WHIP CRACKED AND BULLETS FLYING
EIGHT CORRIENTE TURNED TAIL TO RUN
IN THE END THEY MET THEIR BOVINE MATCH
CHIRICAHUA COWBOY WAS SMILIN’
AS HE BLEW SMOKE FROM THE END OF HIS GUN

CHIRICAHUA COWBOY ROUNDED ‘EM UP RIGHT THEN
THEY WERE BEATEN LIKE HAMBURGER AND LOCKED IN THE PEN
“NEXT TIME YOU COME ROUND HERE
THE BUTCHER’LL MAKE IT CUT AND DRIED
AND MAKE LITTLE PARTS OUT OF THOSE CARCASSES
AND WALLETS FROM YER HIDE!

CHIRICAHUA COWBOY
HE’S ON HIS HORSE AGAIN
WE NEVER KNOW WHY
WE NEVER KNOW WHEN
BUT HE’S THE HOPE OF ARIZONA
LEAST FROM WILLCOX TO PORTAL
THE CHIRICAHUA COWBOY
HE’S THE ONE THAT GETS THE CALL
ANY TIME ‘R OYSTER’S ARE UP AGAINST THE WALL
THE CHIRICAHUA COWBOY, HE DONE SAVED US ALL!
CHIRICAHUA COWBOY–NO ONE RIDES AS TALL!

© Brooks Bradbury / Innspired Hospitality

BrooksLooks @ Chiricahua Cowgirl

CHIRICAHUA COWGIRL
Brooks Bradbury

UNDER POWDER BLUE SKIES
A YOUNG ARIZONA GIRL RIDES
ON HER PRIDE AND JOY PONY
THEIR RARE LOVE ABIDES

HER MOTHER’S FINAL DYING HOPE
A GIFT TO HER A LARIAT ROPE
AND A LEOPARD APPALOOSA COLT
HER DAUGHTER NAMED HIM LIGHTENING BOLT

SHE FIGHTS THE PAIN EVERY NOW AND THEN
CHIRICAHUA COWGIRL RIDES AGAIN
TO RECONNECT WITH EARLY DAYS
AND HER MOTHER’S LOVE AND SIMPLE WAYS
IN APACHE LAND OF CHOKONEN
CHIRICAHUA COWGIRL RIDES AGAIN
GET UP, GET ON YOUR HORSE AND TELL ME WHEN
CHIRICAHUA COWGIRL RIDES AGAIN

THEY ROAMED THE DESERT RANGE FOREVER
TWO YOUNG HEARTS TOGETHER,
SMELLS OF PIÑON PINE AND LEATHER
DAYS GO BY AND THEY WOULD KNOW
LIFE’S SUPRISING SUDDEN BLOWS
SHATTERED BONES AND BROKEN HEARTS
PAINFUL FALLS AND LOVER’S WOES

SHE FIGHTS THE PAIN EVERY NOW AND THEN
CHIRICAHUA COWGIRL RIDES AGAIN
TO RECONNECT WITH EARLIER DAYS
AND HER MOTHER’S LOVE AND SIMPLE WAYS
IN APACHE LAND OF CHOKONEN
CHIRICAHUA COWGIRL RIDES AGAIN
GET UP, GET ON YOUR HORSE TELL ME WHEN
CHIRICAHUA COWGIRL RIDES AGAIN

A HANDSOME COWBOY RAW AND TALL
BROUGHT HER FLOWERS, CHANGED IT ALL
HER LOVE GREW STRONGER
THEN ALL FELL THROUGH
ENDING SOME MONTHS LATER
BECAUSE HE WAS UNTRUE

THE WILD WEST BECAME WILD THEN
UNBRIDLED ANGER AND WILD EYES,
SHE SET OFF TO OUTRUN HIS LIES
NOTHING COULD CONTAIN HER RAGE
SHE TRIED HARD TO TURN THE PAGE
RODE HER HORSE LIKE A LION FROM A CAGE

THE RIDE WAS FAST AND FAR AND HIGH,
TEARS FROM LOSS AND CRIES OF WHY
BEYOND THE LIMITS OF HORSE AND GIRL
A WILD CRAZY DERVISH WHIRL

A SCORPION SURPRISED THEM
HER HORSE REARED UP, SHE FELL DOWN
ONLY HOURS LATER CAME AROUND
HER HORSE STAYED BY HER
THEY STOOD THEIR GROUND

SHE DRAGGED HERSELF UP
FROM THE GROUND TO HER STIRRUPS
BROKEN BONES AND AN UNYIELDING SPIRIT
HER LAST RIDE? SHE’LL NEVER HEAR IT

CHIRICAHUA COWGIRL RIDES AGAIN
GET UP, GET ON YOUR HORSE
AND TELL ME WHEN
THE CHIRICAHUA COWGIRL RIDES AGAIN
CHIRICAHUA COWGIRL RIDES AGAIN

BrooksLooks @ Chiricahua Cowgirl

Chiricahua Cowgirl
under powder blue skies a brave Arizona girl rides
on her pride and joy pony the last gift from her mother
upon her death they were left almost nearly alone
her mom’s final hope that they rescue each other
the girl and her pony took their hard lives in stride

from childhood and older they roamed Chiricahua forever
diamondbacks and prickly pear, piñon pine and leather
years went by and they would know troubles life sometimes throws
loss and sadness, all of life’s madness and the pain of poverty’s woes

they shared joys and heartaches, and struggled on these two
the girl and her lineback Dun lived and breathed and grew
good people watched over them, like occasional angels above
giving food and shelter and safety in lieu of a mother’s love

then one day it happened, a new love came to call
the cowgirl fell in love with love him, cowboy warts and all
it ended some months later when she found he was untrue
Chiricahua then erupted her true love was misconstrued

angry skies and wild eyes, nothing contained her rage
the Wild West became wild then, and a cowgirl came of age
they lit out for Dos Cabezas, on beyond Apache Pass
beyond the limits of girl and horse, flat out on the open range

the ride near over, exhausted, she had cried her final tear
a scorpion spooked her lineback dun, it reacted out of fear
the cowgirl was thrown hard down on unyielding ground
she was left there forever to die, her body remains unfound

get up, get on your horse, come tell me when
the Chiricahua Cowgirl rides again
she drags herself from the ground to her stirrups
with broken bones and an unbent spirit
her last ride, she’ll never hear it

Chiricahua Cowgirl rides again
to reconnect with better days
of endless joys and simple ways
over Apache land of Chokonen
Chiricahua Cowgirl rides again

© Copyright 2013 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks @ Arizona’s Promising Wine Future

Out on the crush pad at 7 a.m. on a cool and glorious Arizona morning, winemaker Curt Dunham of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards brings out a hot pot of coffee before the day begins.  His thriving vineyards surround the winery against the backdrop of Chiricahua Mountains, with the peaks of Dos Cabezas and Mount Graham visible in the distance.

Along with affable assistant winemaker, Frank Price, the men are focused on organizing their well-sanitized equipment for a day of harvesting and de-stemming just as the process is about to begin.  A crew of six have been harvesting beautifully ripe grenache grapes by hand since well before dawn, and now the first giant one-ton tub of grapes is brought in on the forks of a tractor.

It was a cool night at this mile-high elevation and the first picked grapes are bursting with sweet juicy flavor.  Wielding a special pitch fork and a flat-bottomed shovel, each tub of thirteen in total is emptied into the mechanized de-stemmer as the clean-picked stems dump neatly out one side while the slightly mashed grapes (now referred to as “must”) make their way up a 4″ diameter clear tube rapidly filling a 300 gallon, slightly translucent industrial vat.  “25 Brix,” is the first report of sugar content, about what Curt expected of Mother Nature’s produce.

Nine full-fledged wineries now operate in Cochise County alone.  Five more are in the process of being planted as this very special terroir is being discovered.  Rich volcanic soil, and the moderating influences of elevation and nightly temperature swing contribute to Arizona new status as ‘wine country.’  It is a joy to witness  the surprised and pleasant reactions of our European and American visitors alike as they taste Arizona’s new craze crop–amazing wines!

Much of this corner of southern Arizona area is counter-intuitive, beginning with the quality of wine (and people!) one can already discover here.  Talented wine makers such as Curt Dunham and Peggy Fiandaca; Rod Keeling and Jan Schaefer; Sam Pillsbury; Bob Carlson and his family; Rob and Sarah Hammelman; Mark and Rhona Jorve and many more are perfecting their wines for all of America to discover.

For the adventurous tourist, one might also think of southern Arizona as the wrong place to visit in summertime.  After all, who hasn’t seen those extreme temperatures on the Tucson and Phoenix weather maps?

Think again! At over 5,000 feet in elevation, August and September are actually very enjoyable months of the year to visit.  Largely gentle monsoon rains create verdant vistas, flowers bloom and grasses come alive, and first-time visitors are stunned to see flowing creeks and filled ponds–in Arizona!  For both wine and visitors, the cool evening temperatures work their magic.

The giant vats are carefully loaded into Curt’s huge chilled storerooms–the winemaker’s craft well underway.  Curt’s enthusiasm is overflowing, and his impeccable attention to detail is obvious.  The future of Arizona wines is very bright indeed.

BrooksLooks @ Being Home on the Range


Here, the question, “You live here!?” is often followed up with, “I’m so jealous!”
You see, we happily called a small ranch in the southern Rockies our home, the place we welcomed guests to a beautiful hideaway. It is located in the mile high Chihuahuan Desert of southeast Arizona, in an ancient caldera. Bradford Angier, who with wife Vera wrote the inspiring, “We Like It Wild!” referred to locations like ours as the ‘back of beyond.’
When the pavement ends at Arizona Route 181, just as it bends north to the breathtaking Chiricahua National Monument, the six-mile drive on a primitive road to the ranch can build character–giving one pause to consider their travel decision. Once at the ranch a few miles later, guests breathe easier as they relax–easing into one of the most beautiful and tranquil settings surrounded by the Coronado National Forest.
It is a dramatic setting, a region of ‘Sky Islands’–mountains separated by high chaparral where an incredible multitude of species flourishes, both flora and fauna, segregated over eons by individual ranges.

The peacefulness of the area belies its violent history. This is the sacred land of the Chiricahua Apaches, final Native American holdout against the U.S. Military under the leadership of Cochise and Geronimo. There is an incredible sense of place here, wide open vistas where you can see forever down laser straight roads.

To the photographer, incredible light and colors of azure and cerulean blue make for very dramatic images both at dawn and at dusk when the shadows grow long and gentle. All manner of creatures become unique subjects.

As you might imagine, to live here requires some forbearance! The mailbox is 28 miles away through a Border Patrol check-point, “yes, I’m a citizen of this country.” The store is an hour’s drive away, and shopping excursions can be an all day affair. Rattlesnakes (especially the hair-trigger Mojave’s), tarantulas, cinnamon colored black bears and mountain lions require heightened awareness of one’s surroundings. Of course, the more mundane nuisance known as “goat heads” requires a bit of patience too. These severely sharp and pointy burrs attach themselves to everything, whether we like it or not!
For people leading complicated and stressful lives however, this setting provides a true antidote. Here one can find the balance needed to regain control of a complicated lifestyle. Savor unbelievable quietness, amazing fresh air and the long perspective of looking up to very old mountains.
Come. Ride a horse. Sit by the campfire. Swim. Walk along a very special nature trail–one that is full of nature. Remember what being still is like.

Come to the mountains. It will make all the difference.

BrooksLooks @ In the Company of Cowboys

A Picnic of Cowboys and Cowgirls

A year ago, a car was parked along the dirt road leading to the ranch and a man was on the other side of the barbed wire fence wandering in the field. This is quite a common sight here in southeastern Arizona, however I recognized neither the vehicle nor the occupants.

As soon as I heard the voice I recognized instantly that it was none other than cowboy poet Baxter Black standing there before me in all his cowboy glory, eyes twinkling out from under his wide-brimmed hat as he introduced himself and his wife the very delightful, CindyLou Baxter.

It seems Mr. Black was given the wrong date for the Southwest Pioneer Cowboy Association picnic to be held here in the Chiricahua Mountains, and he and CindyLou had arrived one week prematurely. Susan and I were just as happy to invite them for lunch, and while I welcomed our new friends and guests to Sunglow Ranch, Susan took to the kitchen making the finest lunch ever made under pressure. Baxter recited his poem, The West, phrases of which continue to this day to pop into my head such as, “the wind is the moan of the prairie” and “they don’t call it Death Valley for nuthin'”…

Today, over a year later was held this year’s SWPCA Cowboy Picnic. Over a hundred guests were in attendance just down the dirt road from the ranch, and a glorious steak dinner was cooked-out and beautifully served to all. More than one cowboy guest remarking to me that, “there are less and less of the real old-time cowboys left.”

Stackable plastic and metal folding chairs were ‘circled up’ after the meal, as raffle prizes and story-telling began. Cowboy poetry was recited. Stories were shared from the heart, and a celebration commenced for the real cowboys and cowgirls who were in attendance. Many sentences began with, “The Smith Ranch”, or “The Price Ranch”, or “The Riggs Ranch” and beautiful, time worn cowboy phrases like “prit’ near” and “howdy” were oft’ spoken.

A bit slowed by age, these were the originals–the ones who’s family tamed this very wild west from the 1870’s onward, and who continued in their parents’ footsteps ranching in this faraway land. Back then, this land had only recently been delivered up, wrested violently from the Chiricahua Apaches as their parents became the first white homesteaders here.

Now, a bit grizzled, thin and worn with age–it was clear that I was in the company of real cowboys and real cowgirls. Lord knows the hardships they faced. I couldn’t help but feel I was watching the passing of a way of life, and the end of an era. But I saw extraordinary character in these wrinkled faces, and simple lives.

Baxter and CindyLou never made it this year, but I’ll be looking down the road for them when next year’s cowboy picnic comes around. Heck, they prit’ near made it last year.