December- Week 4

January 2, 2013

Scents of Christmas

Remembering briefly the scents which pervaded the Christmas Season so many years ago in our one-room sod home back in the Sandhills of Nebraska.

The scents of Christmas filled the air…
the smell of pumpkin pie,
a turkey roasting on the hearth…
with mama standing by.

‘Twas a Christmas to remember,
and enjoy once again
the many scents of Christmas past,
remem’bring way back then!


Clark Crouch
is a self-proclaimed Poet Lariat and a prize-winning western and cowboy poet, author, lyricist, and performing artist. He admits to a bias toward traditional cowboy poetic forms.

The author of eight books poetry, six of which are devoted to western and cowboy verse, he is a two-time winner of the prestigious Will Rogers Medallion Award for Cowboy Poetry and a five-time finalist in the annual Western Music Associations book award competitions. He wrote his first prize-winning poem at age eleven but never got around to writing more until 2001 when he was 73. Shortly thereafter he started writing and performing professionally.

He was inspired by three individuals: Will Rogers who was his hero during the early 1930s; Charles Badger Clark, the classic cowboy poet, with whom he was acquainted in the early 1940s; and Sherman Alexie, a Native American poet, novelist, screen-writer and performer who, in 2001, encouraged him to write his western tales in poetic form.

His poem ‘The Guardian’ was published in CPP’s October 2012 Issue- Week 2

*******

 TWO SHOTS—MAYBE

It was late Fall when Pete and I found five dead Herefords on the bank of the Ranch’s main irrigation ditch. They were gutted.

I remarked to Pete, “There’s only one animal, besides man, that kills for pleasure—the Grizzly bear. “We’ll shoot him tonight.”

We built a shelter, downwind, with a good view of the bear’s most likely path to his victims. I had borrowed a Steyr Mannlicher eqipped with a night sight and Pete, as back up shooter, had his Dad’s thirty-aught-six.

It was not a long wait. Pete spotted him—about 200 yards out—cantering towards us. My first shot was in his gut. He let out a high pitched grunt and in spite of his condition he closed on us fast. He was less than thirty yards away. On the second shot I remembered my grandfather’s dictum—lie still, bring the animal into the cross hairs, hold your breath and squeeze the trigger.

It was a perfect shot through the heart. The Grizz rose up on his hind legs, barked a piercing death rattle and keeled over. He measured out at over 10 feet and weighed we estimated, about1,000 lbs.

After he was dressed out, I visited the Forest Service to fill out a report.

Chief Ranger Bill Burns admonished, “Mike, you’re supposed to obtain permission before you kill an endangered species.”

“Bill, I know, but he’s made endangered species already of five of our cattle.” I did not say what I was thinking: we Wyoming ranchers shoot first and talk about it later. “Here are your bear steaks. I’m returning the Grizz slightly modified into Forest Service custody.”

Bill shook his head and smiled, “You do pretty good dealing with us Smokeys.”

We named the bearskin Jerome and he was placed before the fireplace. For Mary and me the pleasure of his company endured for years.

I reckon that Jerome’s second life was warmer and more stimulating than his first.

Michael J. Keyser in his formative years spent summers and other free time at the family ranch, the Diamond k located in southeastern Idaho.  He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in English.  While there, he won the John B. Wanamaker Prize for Excellence in English Composition.

Mr. Keyser served as the President of the American Cancer Society, Cuyahoga County Unit.  He was also a Park Commissioner in Hudson, Ohio.  For several years he served on the Board of the Summit-Portage County Health Systems Agency.

Mr. Keyser has published four works of fiction.  His hobbies are writing, walking and woodworking.  Mr. Keyser is very active in his church with outreach ministries serving senior health facilities.

December- Week 1

December 4, 2012

Wild Onion

John H. Dromey was born in northeast Missouri. He’s had a byline (for brief, humorous items) in over one-hundred different newspapers and magazines. Once upon a time he had light verse published in Grit, Hoofs and Horns, Light, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. His cartoons have appeared in Bowhunter and Farm Antiques News (no longer published).

*******

Crossing The Bar

Walt Blake’s foreman Bill Kelly advised Jake McCarthy that Walt wanted to see him.

Jake inquired, “How’s he doing?”

“Not well. Molly’s doing a great job of nursing, but it’s a race against cancer and it is winning.”

“Thanks, Bill.”

Jake drove his F 350 fast down US 50 to the Blake Ranch (the Lazy B). Molly greeted him warmly and brought him in to see Walt.

He barely sat up in his rocker, “Amigo, how goes it?”

“It’s fine with me Walt, but how about you?”

As customary Walt was to the point, “I’m dying Jake!”

Jake reacted naturally, “Oh, I’m so sorry Walt.”

“Don’t be. We owe God a death and mine is coming up.”

Jake shook his head—already incredulous that this fine man would soon be gone. No more hunting, no more fishing, no more wise counsel and no more Jack Daniels on Walt’s back porch. It was time to shrug off his morbid mood—try to cheer Walt up.

Jake grinned, “Walt I’m missing you already. Will you send me a letter about what it’s like on the other side of the bar?”

Walt laughed with some difficulty, “Same old Jake. Sure young amigo, the letter will come by turtle doves, or still smoking.”

“Well my friend, the Almighty is getting a damn fine man.”

“Thanks Jake for the compliment. I hope the Almighty will be forgiving.”

Molly was listening as Walt declared, “I know that I’m hard to replace, but I’m sure she can find a young stud.”

Molly remarked with a grin, “He’s out in the barn now dear.”

Walt declared, “You see why I’m better off on the other side
Let’s seal our business deal with a bit of Mr. Jack. You too Moll.”

Molly protested, “It’ll kill you sweetheart.”

Walt riposted, “Better now with friends than tomorrow alone.”

They all had two shots—neat.

Walt Blake died ten days later.

Michael J. Keyser in his formative years spent summers and other free time at the family ranch, the Diamond k located in southeastern Idaho.  He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in English.  While there, he won the John B. Wanamaker Prize for Excellence in English Composition.

Mr. Keyser served as the President of the American Cancer Society, Cuyahoga County Unit.  He was also a Park Commissioner in Hudson, Ohio.  For several years he served on the Board of the Summit-Portage County Health Systems Agency.

Mr. Keyser has published four works of fiction.  His hobbies are writing, walking and woodworking.  Mr. Keyser is very active in his church with outreach ministries serving senior health facilities.

“Crossin the Bar (primarily a 19th century phrase) in the Tennyson poem (last stanza) means dying.  To navigate over the bar, which could be sand, rock, etc.,  requires a pilot and good tidal conditions. Spiritually dead and once over the bar, he hopes he’ll meet his Pilot (God) face to face.”

October- Week 4

October 23, 2012

Bareknuckle

He wrapped a bandage tight around his battered knuckles
to stanch the flow of blood. His buddies ponied up
the cash to keep his pitcher full of beer, their chuckles
inviting him to tell again about the whup

he’d laid on that there thief, the way he went and slugged
the noisy little dude that interfered with his
prerogative to hear the song he picked. While drugged
with alcohol, he’d made it his especial busi-

ness setting matters square by punching out the lights
that darkened his already ugly mood. Fort Knox
would barely cover debts owed on his ranch—his sights
lit on the quarter stuck inside that damned juke box.

C.B. Anderson, the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden, spent his formative years in Blue, Arizona where, in the late 70’s, he worked for neighboring ranchers (Clell & Katharine Lee) at the stupendous rate of $5/day. He has castrated many a bull-calf and eaten the grisly harvest that was grilled on site atop the rusty iron cylinder in which the branding irons were heated red-hot by a propane torch. His poems on other subjects have appeared in many print and electronic journals internationally.

********

The Cowboy Who Counted the Stars

At days tattered close, head nodding to rest
His ride for the day is now done,
He thinks of the hours whose total won’t count
“Cause he only gets paid sun to sun.

His eyes shift above a duster of red
That rakes blowing sand from the wind,
He’s glad day is made but knows in his heart
Before long, another begins.

Reins still in his hand he steps to the ground
Tipping his hat with a nod,
He lets go the cinch to bring back the breath
Then takes stock of the four that are shod.

The dust billows free as he raises a leg
And gives his worn boot a good stomp,
His horse now at ease as it chases the ground
Looking for some sweet grass to chomp.

With care, a brush, and sure measured strokes,
To her mane and her flank and her withers,
Sweeping tangles and brambles, knotting the tail
She speaks thanks to him when she shivers.

Deep purples and reds are all that remain
Of the sky that was painted pure blue,
The sun cutting west will be dipping below
As night waits to answer its queue.

Hobbling his mount to the picket line
He knows she’ll be safe for the night,
Covering his traps with a dusty ole tarp
Resting easy, ’cause all is put right.

Upon a soft meadow his bed is unrolled
Then he studies a vast sparkling sky,
He asks if there was ever a count,
Of the stars ’cause it takes a sharp eye.

Repeating the question for no one to hear
Thinking, “Cowboy, now how can this be,
That no one has counted the lights in the sky
Are they leaving it all up to me?”

Begin the tally from a well-chosen point
Should you have to start over it’s plain,
The northern star on the handle shines bright
To preface your celestial domain.

The counting established with nary a slip
He knows he’ll not stop ’til its penned,
With thousands to reckon he can’t miss a one
At least, that is what he intends……

Darkness now past, the camp’s in a stir
As the riders crawl out of their rolls,
Saddles are creaking, horses are speaking
Big Augur recalls these poor souls.

Rousted from sleep, he’s not quite awake
As he raises an eye toward the heavens,
He remembers the count of nights’ flickering lights
But was sure there were more than eleven……

Robert L. Penven Sr.
70 years of age, the patriarch of a rather large family/grand kids included. He served in the United States Marine Corps from June 1961 to January 1966. Honorably discharged at the time of separation. From 1967 until 1992, and served with the New Jersey State Police as a state trooper. Since the time of retirement Robert has taught tennis under the auspices of the United States Professional Registry, and has been employed as a finished carpenter and later years an assistant to an airplane mechanic. Hobbies are many, aversions are few. He likes writing stories and poems, and this is his first real publication, but he did submit poetry to his college magazine in 1975 and it was published for the benefit of the student body, probably not so much for himself. Now you know more about Robert Penven than you probably should.

*******

August Issue- Week 3

August 12, 2012

THE PIONEER SONG

You hid the rum bottle in the shed east of the outhouse.
Since sixteen her waist — narrowest in the township — widened with her anger
Five boys surly budding whiskers could till this Ohio dirt without you
She tells you so daily.
Sharp yellow faced wasps that chew weathered boards of the outhouse
To build above your bottle’s nest
Sting not so sharply as her tongue.
You can no longer sip young buck rum
Under lush palms and succulent vines
Immersed in blossoming laughter of great black ladies
Lacing the Kingston night
The Ohio river dreams west
Forgotten freedom flowing on water
Westward lies a Wyoming, gold in Dixie, Idaho, vast Montana skies
Never real unless you touch them.
Old Thaddeus cut your graying hair
Shave the Amish beard dress a bit of the dandy
Ringo or Liberty or Bat will disembark the Cincinnati packet boat in St. Louis
Childless widower on a wagon train westward
Into a yarn tempered with campfire flickers
Burnt whiskey brown in the unshaded sun
On a plain whose trail flows beyond sight—unswallowed in lush green forests.
Fancy made flesh to stride tall into dusky saloons
Meanwhile back at the ranch
A mythfinity in
The big bang from a silent and singular farewell.

Tyson West is a traditional western poet whose aesthetic continually shape shifts. He watches the Northwest with veiled and hooded lynx eyes, broods among the conifers and quarrels with Coyote. He has a degree in history, but writes a variety of poetry styles, and has written a series of poems around Spokane Garry who is our local magical Indian. One of Tyson’s Western poems was published in Spoke Magazine called “Floorshow”, which is based on a picture of a 1922 floorshow in the Davenport Hotel which photo you can find on line. He lives in the middle of Eastern Washington, which is definitely cowboy country. There are two Washingtons, Eastern and Western, and they are as different as a Mocah Mint Latte with organic goats milk and black boiled coffee at a chuck wagon fire.

John H. Dromey was born in northeast Missouri. He’s had a byline (for brief, humorous items) in over one-hundred different newspapers and magazines. Once upon a time he had light verse published in Grit, Hoofs and Horns, Light, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. His cartoons have appeared in Bowhunter and Farm Antiques News (no longer published).

WORDS SPOKEN BY SPOKANE GARRY
AT THE DEDICATION OF HIS MONUMENT
SPOKANE, WA August 25, 2011

Proud am I that you
Children of my children
Stand here today honoring
Our stiff necked resolution
To fancy dance and wail to pounding drums
Carry our feathers and totems
Against the white fangs of Mickey Mouse and Barbie.
You have not forgotten bones of our ancestors
Line trails from the northwest.
Buffalo soldiers following yellow haired men with shoulder straps
Hanged a few of our braves
Who died like warriors – slaughtered our horses
These slaps were nothing
To crude tribes of peasants fiercely fleeing
Dandy dukes and counts and princes
To ravage and reshape our mother
Dam up her rivers withhold the red ocean fish
And turn the canyon where I died into 18 smooth grassy stretches for a German farmer’s son
To chase a hard white rubber ball
In a put put cart
Smiling whiskey on his breath.
May this construct of basalt pillars and metal work magic medicine
Reserve our dry ground
Cold swift rivers so we may
Breath cool mountain air
Over tongues speaking Salish words that
Ancestors entrusted to us.

Tyson West is a traditional western poet whose aesthetic continually shape shifts.  He watches the Northwest with veiled and hooded lynx eyes, broods among the conifers and quarrels with Coyote. He has a degree in history, but writes a variety of poetry styles, and has written a series of poems around Spokane Garry who is our local magical Indian.  One of Tyson’s Western poems was published in Spoke Magazine called “Floorshow”, which is based on a picture of a 1922 floorshow in the Davenport Hotel which photo you can find on line. He lives in the middle of Eastern Washington, which is definitely cowboy country.  There are two Washingtons, Eastern and Western, and they are as different as a Mocah Mint Latte with organic goats milk and black boiled coffee at a chuck wagon fire.

Week One-

[click on image to enlarge]

‘In The Saddle’

Scott Welch is a living breathing Texas cowboy and rancher who works his land before and after he works a full-time job. This photo was taken while Scott was out riding one afternoon; it’s the perfect example of a birds eye view of the cowboy on the trail.

***

THE GALVESTON FLOOD

My grandfather went hand-over-hand
on a barbed-wire fence
with a table tied to his waist
and my grandmother tied to the table
because she couldn’t swim.

Hand-over-hand, man.
That’s Texas.

H. Edgar Hix is a Minnesota poet who has been publishing poetry for around 40 years. His work has appeared in over 100 journals, including recent appearances in bear creek haiku, Waterways, Time of Singing, Priscilla Papers, Crack the Spine, Mutuality, FutureCycle, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal . He has published one poetry chapbook, The Saint Cloud Café and Motor Inn . You can also find his flash fiction ‘Mary Had A Big, Bad Wolf’ in Z-composition, April 2012 Issue.

***

[click on image to enlarge]

John H. Dromey was born in northeast Missouri. He’s had a byline (for brief, humorous items) in over one-hundred different newspapers and magazines. Once upon a time he had light verse published in Grit, Hoofs and Horns, Light, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. His cartoons have appeared in Bowhunter and Farm Antiques News (no longer published).

***

ANIMAL MYTHS

Crows fly in unwavering lines,
snakes eventually go blind,
and elephants trot off to die.

Fish can shut their eyes to sleep
crocodiles forlornly weep
and moles can sort of see.

The eel has two beating hearts
barn mice grow up into rats
and birds listen for worms.

Worms turn into lightning bugs
bears give suffocating hugs,
and hippos sweat real blood.

Running horses stay aground,
honest men could once be found
who’d never put another down.

M.V. Montgomery is a professor at Life University in Atlanta. His third book of poems, What We Did With Old Moons, will be released by Winter Goose Publishing this November.

***

All the Pretty Horses
—for Cormac Mc Carthy

June 1st and it finally stopped
snowing. It’s been a month
since I’ve seen a bluer than blue
cornflower sky stretching
overhead between mountain tops
whose rent valley gloves
still show fingers of snow
pointing downwards.

I drive past the Hi Ute Ranch
on the Kilby Road
where all the pretty horses
graze and I have to stop the car
to watch as they frolic,
running with the wind
and I can’t help but think
of Cormac Mc Carthy’s novel,
and I sigh with remembrance
at his pensive and provocative prose.
His use of Spanish without translations.

The horses are pastured behind a split
rail fence near a strong runoff
stream of rushing water—
snow melt tumbling and falling,
rushing and frothing from higher
up the valley forming a creek
with a little falls, and then
pooling into a good-sized pond.

I want to write about the west,
about horses and tycoons, gamblers,
cowboys, river men, trappers,
gold diggers, and the Plains Indians,
the nomadic tribes of the Arapaho,
Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa,
Nez Perce, Coeur d’Alene,
Sioux and Shoshone.
Most of all what I’d have loved being:
a rancher, homesteading
cattle country in Colorado
at the end of the 19th century.

But when I set pen to paper
all ideas vanish
like smoke signals
trailing upwards,
which makes me wonder
if these internal images
and feelings shouldn’t stay inside,
once you’ve already lived them.

Nina Romano earned an M.A. from Adelphi University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Florida International University. She is the author of two poetry collections: *Cooking Lessons** by Rock Press, and Coffeehouse Meditations,** from Kitsune Books. She has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She *is the co-author of *Writing in a Changing World. *Her latest poetry collection, *She Wouldn’t Sing at My Wedding,* is forthcoming,from Bridle Path Press. Her short story collection*, The Other Side of the Gates, *will be published by Kitsune Books early 2013.
More about the author here: http://www.ninaromano.com

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