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In Honor of Poetry Month
Poetry as an art form predates literacy. Some of the earliest poetry is believed to have been orally recited or sung. Following the development of writing, poetry has since developed into increasingly structured forms, though much poetry since the late 20th century has moved away from traditional forms towards the more vaguely defined free verse and prose poem formats.
Poetry was employed as a way of remembering oral history, story (epic poetry), genealogy, and law. Poetry is often closely related to musical traditions, and much of it can be attributed to religious movements. Many of the poems surviving from the ancient world are a form of recorded cultural information about the people of the past, and their poems are prayers or stories about religious subject matter, histories about their politics and wars, and the important organizing myths of their societies.
Following are Bearlodge Writer’s poems that record our “modern history.”
the promise of spring
holds its breath
through frost-thick mornings
fail to hear
the assurance of meadowlarks
Gaydell Collier, (Charter member of BLW, 1936-2013)
Published in In the Shadow of the Bearlodge Anthology, Many Kites Press, 2006
Writing: enter a sacred place,
a dimly lit sauna of inner space;
a ritual bath, cleansing and healing,
uniting opposites: what we want to know,
what we do not want to know;
a descent down a winding staircase,
into a hidden room,
listening to conversations
in the depths of soul.
a wisp of air
on the surface of waters;
breath becomes form,
takes its place on the page.
words dance a ritual of attraction;
line by line of
the picture becomes,
into a world of imagination,
rooted in everyday experience;
singing songs of oneness,
the protagonist in the story,
the flower in the poem.
James W. Bowers
A skiff of snow
glistens in the morning sun.
Wind-battered flakes whirl,
obscure blue skies,
blast as white-to-crystal powder against my window,
then push on through drifted fields.
Neighbors as winter-weary as I
share the added chill.
I fill the feeders.
Chickadees and jays and red-winged blackbirds lambast—
I’ve let their perceived abundance slide—
but today, the real treat is mine.
Shy, peeking from an ancient, paint-peeled birdhouse,
a plump lady bluebird,
beautiful harbinger of spring,
chirps a greeting.
Is the sweet hello directed to her sapphire mate
who sits, wind-ruffled, atop a nearby fence post,
or is the friendly trill a thank you,
and a promise
spring is near?
He was charming and affable,
promised forever with a ring.
He would come home late from work,
caress her waist-length hair,
tell her how much he loved her—
but the whole town knew his excursions,
though he sought companionship miles away.
I remember the day she cut her curls.
Her husband’s impotent rage heard next door,
but the auburn lengths continued to fall.
for the first time in a long, long while,
picked up the mane
and laid it in his lap.
Published in Owen Wister Review, University of Wyoming 2012
Our life time of work
building barns, buck fences, pole corrals,
herding white face sheep to swampy pasture,
trapping beaver from cold river currents.
Mountain logs fashioned our family’s home.
When I lost you, I lost my life.
driving by decades of ranch memories,
I view the open gate, badly broken,
a light shining in the window.
I look until I can see no more.
Someone else is taking our place.
Kathleen J. Smith
Published in WYOPoet’s Chapbook
I wait for stock trailers returning,
to corrals for the eighth time today.
Chris LeDoux’s cowboy music
on the radio—storm clouds ride the sky,
cottonwood leaves sift to the ground.
Old cows polish corral fences.
I push calves through chutes
for ear tags, vaccines, and brands.
Bawling bovines sing harmony
when loaded for fresh pasture, cool water.
No mama cows in sight.
Miles of steps in dust-covered boots.
Hands sore from opening gates.
Right thumb of leather glove worn,
in my vest pocket I stuff
a pencil-scratched tally pad,
columns of calf counts.
Too many calves,
too many days,
too many miles.
Kathleen J. Smith
On the death of a friend
No. No. NO.
Angry feet stomp sad,
rebel at yet one. more. goodbye.
Want you. Nee.d you. Not at all
ready to live without you.
I hold on, will not
let you go.
But this tight hold
traps you, traps me
in a dying grip.
Fear of loss and
pain of separation
stifle unfolding life.
And so, reluctant, I close my eyes,
open my fist, and wave
you on your way.
on the horizon.
Bon voyage, sweet friend.
And if my ship should pass from sight,
oh, do not say the journey ends,
just that the river bends.* adapted from John Powell Enoch
Maureeen Helms Blake
This was published in SproutOnlineMagazine.com (Friendship issue), in honor of our dear Gaydell
Morning comes too soon,
on the door of day,
while yet I entertain
a soft community
where I am no one
and I am everyone.
Come back later, Morning,
when I have straightened
this tangle of arm and leg,
swiped the dust of dreams
from the corner of my eye,
shaken out the rug
Give me an hour—
even twenty minutes—
and I will greet you
with a smile,
butter you a muffin,
brew you a fresh pot
Poem previously in SproutOnlineMagazine.com (Simplicity issue)
A tender green greets patches of snow.
A gurgle of melt from deep draws spills into reservoirs.
I watch for the black V emblazoned on the yellow breast,
listen for the sweetest song that signifies spring.
Today, it’s official; the western meadowlarks are here.
The male’s melody fills the air as he claims his territory.
Soon mates will arrive and he will point his bill in the air,
puff out his throat and flap his wings above his head,
to tell her he’s the one.
In hayfield or pasture, his partner will dig a hollow with her bill,
line it with soft grass and make a roof
by pulling grass and plants over the depression.
In weeks, sweet peeps will greet the morning sun.
Their flute-like warbles gift our days
as grass grows tall and soft winds blow.
Published in Black Hills Writer’s Group Anthology, 2011