Monthly Archives: October 2003



If Uncle Ernie
had not gone off to war before I was four

If he had not loved movies, or sat
in that seat in that theatre when on leave

Where the bomb came through the roof
and through the floor
and killed a few
and then blew up
and killed some more

He’d have been here handsome and bright
helping my father with the ranchers load
and telling stories to my delight

Marrying and making me
cousins in the night



After a poetry reading down in Texas
a couple of smart successful executive types
who seemed to like what they came to hear
are buying me a long necked beer

While searching for a common thread
that between us there might be
we discover that it’s none other
than a John Deere model ‘D’

So we talk about the good old days
all growing up and farming wheat
and that old slow two cylinder’s
whump whump heartbeat

All marveling and remembering how
you could stand on one all day
and still be fresh and ready
to go out all night and play

We agreed at the time we weren’t sure why
although I think I’ve got it figured now
and because of the kind of a guy I am
I’ll gladly tell you now

You see

A little while back I run across a group
advertising a marvelous breakthrough
a mind improvement program
teaching something completely new

If you give them a few hundred dollars
and about the best part of a year
they will take you from Beta to Alpha
relaxed as any guru and wise as any seer

So I buy all of their expensive gear
put those tiny speakers in each ear
and darned if I don’t hear

The sound of an old
John Deere



In my house
two stone hammers
picked from the ancient land
where Cree and Blackfoot fought and died

Beside the deep ruts of the Red River carts
showing yet through a hundred years of grass

Mounted police on the Fort Walsh trail
to stop the whisky and move the rail

Stony silent bookends now
with many more stories to tell
than the pages they hold between them



C.A. tells me the other day
about his genuine cowboy father
who worked Wild Bill’s “Wild West” show

And if I shake C.A.’s hand and I often do
I’m only one away from Buffalo Bill
and Sitting Bull makes two

And then there’s Black Elk and Crazy Horse
and a whole passel of Little Big Horn Sioux

And shaking the hand of the Queen Mom
and loving her lots and holding on some
I was only one away from Churchill
and every crowned head for a hundred years
and Lady Di too, don’t that bring some tears

And I also hug Greta now and then
who worked for Hammarsjold at the U.N.

Yesterday I had a rum with Eric
who lived with the Yanamami
and natives of a Southern sea

All those amazing thousands
and I still haven’t counted past three
anyone here want to shake hands with me



Sometimes you lose a cow
sometimes you lose a calf

You wrap the orphan
in the dead calf’s skin
and the mother takes her in like kin

Gold enough there for a country song
It’s a hurtin song – you can sing along

About true love died and true love gone
and foolin yourself just long enough
to keep on keepin on


“God in his mercy lend her grace”
Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Lady of Shalot

Even the camel
eater of straw
Cannot always reach
the one on his back

If we had been able to see
if she had been able to ask

Who would not have taken
a handful
to add to their lighter task