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

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 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.

Cowboy Poetry Press was given a great opportunity to review Rodney Nelson, METACOWBOY poems, our first book review for June 2012 year, and I’m certainly glad to share…

‘Rodney Nelson confesses a separation from poetry until 2000, writing and publishing fiction; when he returns ‘The cowboy and the Deadwood gambler and the Tombstone gunslinger are legendary,” he says. “The working cowboy lives on, but so does the metacowboy, without lariat or gun or poker deck and wearing strange boots.”… Rodney Nelson is a traveler and hiker on his native Great Plains and throughout the west…’ (Taken from the back jacket)

I had not heard the term ‘metacowboy’ until I laid eyes on this book. It is a great title and opportunity for me personally as the editor to get a glimpse into a modern day cowboy’s boots. Maybe hiking boots in Rodney’s case. Only beginning the cowboy poet genre recently, I confess my own hunger for modern artistic views on old western life and hardship. Indeed Nelson has given me just what I wanted.

His voice and fantastic use of language throughout the pages are alone enough to draw you in.

In Rest Stop Big Horn Country– without reprinting the  whole I can attest, you are tourist driving along and taking in monuments and sites, we’ve all done it; then the cavalry appears, and help you really experience the long weary drive.

His movements in word and throughout line have you right beside, and ready…yet onto another page, and you are moved just as easily by another. Rodneys modern verse; it will swing you, reminding, life is not so far off from our past, just easier to swallow as we get older.

Another site (Dry Crik Review) uses this poem below to show us how he uses pauses and last words- expressing the poets feeling of loss which ends with humor, but I like the sadness which clearly sets the tone, and pulls you in…

Yuma Hat

When I lived in smoke heat on the Clearwater of
Idaho I knew that the river would exhale
into my late evening rooms if I opened them
but now I am in the dog days on the Red of
North Dakota and the water will be hot as
afternoon all night
            why do I walk out along
the bike and in-line skating path when I could have
oak shade...

I admit a dislike for overtly ostentatious reviews, and shouldn’t have to use fancy words to persuade you to venture into longing- into Rodney”s Montana and Wyoming and other plains. His portrayal of the Badlands and as I said earlier, his use of language gives us a glimpse into the roughness of the old and new west in sound and scenery, making much of his poetry authentically cowboy.  It has shown me paths he himself has taken. I want to visit these places, and write my own history now.

He is truly a kindred cowboy on a metahorse, and  into sunset we shall ride.

EAS

METACOWBOY: poems. By Rodney Nelson. (2011. The Moon Publishing and Printing The Moon) 34 pp. $14

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