20130815_094530.jpg

Prairie Fires; Winter Work 

two poems

first published by Underwood Press: True Chili

Prairie Fires

 

Whipping hair, 
Horsehair, 
Lances, 
Strips of leather, 
Like blowing flags, 
Like prairie fires, 
Flashing fast on the grass,
Sweeping across open fields,
Fort Hays rising,
On the horizon, 
As the flame flickers, 
Zip-
     CRACK!
Suddenly stifled,
Zip- 
     CRACK!
Not by the rifles,
Zip- Zip- 
     CRACK! CRACK!
But by whips of wind, 
Lashing white-hot,
From the East.

 

 

 

Winter Work

Bought things I needed
For ranch work 
In Kansas cold 
From used ads

Work boots, the ad said
Worn three months
Half-brown and cowboy-style
Like the Texan who sold them

Steel toed and stomp-proof
Water resistant and insulated
The insides sweet 
With fabric softener scent

Pipefitter, he said
What do you do?
For work, he meant
So I told him

I’m trying to be a writer,
I said
While trying on his boots
And he smiled

He repeated the words
To himself 
Trying to be a writer 
A writer, buying his old boots

A writer, he said it again 
As though I’d told him 
Television game show host, or, 
Professional ice skating announcer

Guess I could’ve said,
Cowboy or Ranch Hand 
But the writing that winter 
Was the hardest work I’d ever done.