Early Spa (1)

It’s miles to Miles City across this grassy flat,
And cattle by the dozens can gorge themselves to fat

A drilling firm in fifty-six came here for a go
They struck no oil, just pressurized but thermal H 2 O

The flow was such ‘twas feared, that if left to spout alone
The water well would soon enough drain old Yellowstone

They capped their geyser, and then astute’ new owners saw
A straight and forward way to build a basic spa

One night some high school students broke in and got a start
They landed in the hospital with burns on private parts

From real fear of lawsuits, then, dismantled was their dream;
Excepting this one lonely tub, there’s little left but steam. 

Larry Stanfel has a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering/Management Science from Northwestern University, held the rank, Professor, at several universities, and worked frequently as a consultant for the federal government and to private business. He has published two books – another is in review – seventy articles, mostly peer-reviewed, in periodicals, about a dozen poems, and several web pieces. Twice a winner of competitive fellowships for post-doctoral research abroad, he has presented papers around the world and been an invited speaker in a number of countries. Listed in Who’s Who in America, Dr. Stanfel presently lives with his artist wife, Jane, on a small ranch in Montana.

Painting above, ‘The Spa’ by Jane Stanfel

An artist most of her life, Jane, painting in a realistic-impressionist style, works primarily in oils and watercolors. Her paintings are found throughout the United States and Europe, including the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle. She has had exhibitions across Montana which document the lives and ranches of original settlers. She also had a month-long solo show at Jadite Galleries, New York City; been part of a show in Brussels, Belgium; had a solo exhibit in Seattle, Washington, two at the .Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and two in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Her painting, Old Time Branding, was chosen as the logo for the Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering, August, 2008, and she completed a series of oil and watercolor paintings of endangered species for Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Gulf Shores, Alabama. Her painting entitled It Never Had Brakes, is featured in the book, Montana: Stories of the Land, by Krys Holmes, Montana Historical Society Press, Helena, Montana, 2008. She has conducted children’s art classes throughout Montana and is listed in Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, and the Archives on Women Artists, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D. C. She and her art have been featured in magazines and newspapers across Montana, and her art has been reviewed in the New York art journal, Gallery and Studio. June/July/August 2008.

Her oil paintings have been sold in galleries throughout the United States including Kertesz International Fine Art Gallery, San Francisco, California; Wilson Adams Art Gallery, Denver, Colorado; Cody Country Art League, Cody, Wyoming; Dancing Bear Gallery, Evanston, Illinois; and JaneStanfel.com.

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.

June 2012- Week 2

June 11, 2012

THREE OF THE WEST

   GARY ELDER                                                                                                                
   BILL HOTCHKISS                                                                                                          
   LEN FULTON

I rode with one of the men to meet
another on the Sacramento
and the trailers of winter rain cloud
were smoke to me 
        and up the valley
into the foothills to see a third
at a compound of wood smoke and in
a week I would think to kill myself
                      and among
big metacowboy men
of the West were Elder and Hotchkiss
and Fulton and easy toward one
another and with me
        if not the
America behind the rains of
nineteen seventy-nine and I saw
the two that only time
                      the winter
I rode a truck with one and watched and
listened to who were men of the pen
and older than I and had done more
        and in a week I
would think to go to Coronado
and kill myself and did not and of
the winter three
                      no one’s on the bay
or the river or in the foothills
and I the living am elsewhere but
the California part of me
is wondering what they will write next
        not thinking
of Coronado Bridge

Rodney Nelson work began appearing in mainstream journals long ago; but he turned to fiction and did not write a poem for twenty-two years, restarting in the 2000s. So he is both older and “new.” See his page in the Poets & Writers directory
http://www.pw.org/content/rodney_nelson
for a notion of the publishing  history. He has worked as a copy editor in the Southwest and now lives in the northern Great Plains. Recently, his poem “One Winter” won a Poetry Kit Award for 2011 (U.K.); it had appeared in Symmetry Pebbles. His “Upstream in Idaho” received a Best of Issue Award at the late Neon Beam (also England). The chapbook Metacowboy was published in 2011, and another title, In Wait, is due this year.

Dead Bolt

Purple thunderheads climb the horizon.
Maria sits alone in the kitchen, the house dark,
muggy as the front room at Taylor’s mortuary.
Randy starts to the refrigerator, but reconsiders,

easing into the chair opposite the wall.
She lets her thoughts rumble in her chest, distant,
building in the west, driven by the heat.
When finally she opens her mouth, sentences

slam against the windows. Her verbs
are wind, her proper nouns lightning.
He feigns indifference to storm. Her hair, matted
to her forehead, is splayed like rain beaten wheat.

You need to brush your hair, he interrupts.
She throws a salt shaker at him. It clatters
against the chili pot on the stove. He shoves
the table and grabs the pepper shaker.

She runs for the bathroom and slams the door.
He kicks her chair. It clatters across the kitchen floor,
and spins to a stop against the dog’s bed.
She dead bolts her heart; steel clicks against steel.

Al Ortolani is a teacher from Kansas. His writing has appeared in a number of periodicals, across the United States: *New Letters, New York Quarterly, The English Journal, The Midwest Quarterly *and others. He has three books of poetry, *The Last Hippie of Camp 50* and *Finding the Edge,*published by Woodley Press at Washburn University, and *Wren’s House*, recently released from Coal City Review Press in Lawrence, Kansas. He is active with the Kansas City Writer’s Place and an editor with *The Little Balkans Review*.

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