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Full steam ahead…

Robbin Dofflemyer photo

I thank our contributors for helping DCR make the move to a more reliable format, and subscribers and others for following what I hope continues with fresh expression as we go. As a practical matter, there are no plans to publish a printed version of Dry Crik Review, as the cost of printing, layout, marketing, subscriptions and deadlines don’t make sense at this time. However, in light of the technological advances in the past few years, anything is possible, but with this current presentation, there is no urgency to recoup costs as all that we have invested is a little time.

I will be soliciting new contributors in the months ahead, feeling that we have a pretty solid base from which to gather contemporary expression from the American West. Near term, new offerings may be sporadic as we begin to focus our attention on weaning and shipping calves.

Currently, our policy remains that we will not accept nor consider unsolicited submissions. We will, however, accept new publications for review, and consider unsolicited reviews for inclusion in this format. Thank-you. – JCD

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BEAUTIFUL SNARE by Laurie Jameson

BEAUTIFUL SNARE by Laurie Jameson. (2012. Seven Oaks Publishing, Llano Texas.) 320pp.
        (Kindle $7.99)



BEAUTIFUL SNARE may be a quick, invigorating read set in Celtic Britain, but it is not without the often-overlooked and delicate details that make it real and captivating, not without the earthy myths that envelope the reader in an enduring veil of another time and place. Laurie Jameson’s first novel, ‘Book One in the Spirited Women Series’, the author may be better known to readers of Dry Crik Review as the poet, Laurie Wagner Buyer.

Like the dutiful Ywain, I fell in love with Bekah on her tumultuous quest to save her people and her land from the invading Romans, intrigued by her divine visions from the Goddess of the Otherworld, by the guiding ghosts of the dead, and the pantheistic realm in which this tale is set. A story of love and unrelenting loyalty balanced against a winless war, Bekah relinquishes all for the sake of her people.

With a tasteful amount of ingenious erotic passages, Jameson’s prose style is as polished as her poetry, descriptive paragraphs full of colors and fragrances, with assonance and solid breath beats, the reader floats as if watching the landscape and all its creatures unfold into another world. These vivid descriptions are felt as in a theater. And a movie, this novel could be.

But one cannot ignore the application of this book to our ongoing impacts to Mother Earth, to the failure of male-dominated cultures and religions to sustain her worth. Jameson’s alternative view throughout BEAUTIFUL SNARE is a refreshing, hopeful and exciting place to be captured. Read it. – JCD


BEAUTIFUL SNARE by Laurie Jameson



        a.k.a. Laurie Wagner Buyer
        320 pp.
        Seven Oaks Publishing
        Llano, Texas
        (Kindle $7.99)








          Limited Editions
          Bunchgrass Press
          Columbia Basin





             Old Silver… Aged Stars over Nevada… the Usual Bluff

             A little money, half a continent to drift,
             you’re a past-peak gunslick of the non-rhyme.
             Today you’re driving 35 or 95, nothing average,
             seeking badger silence, the next cinderblock motel.

             Stars overhead with ragged postage stamp edges:
             glitter for the begging. The sleek Chinese girl
             at Mona’s Ranch refuses to believe you’re only there
             for a T-shirt. She wants to camisole-strip real slow.

             Legends have their own cares. Doc Holliday coughs
             at the underside of a Glenwood Springs gravestone.
             And Jesus fondles Mary M.’s breasts, pounds a jug
             off a table in heaven to scare off the missionaries.

             And… when you flip on the motel bathroom light,
             it flashes before dying. With whiskey head-throb,
             with strawberry-taste skin-memories of someone,
             it’s good to sleep with a .45 below your pillow.



            JOHNNY RINGO
          by Red Shuttleworth
         (2012. Riverhouse Lit,
        Dewey, Arizona. 74 pp.)


  Buy Book or Kindle Edition


        One helluva read!! -JCD



Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet. By Twyla M. Hansen and Linda M. Hasselstrom. (2011. The Backwaters Press, 3502 N. 52nd Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68104-3506) 146 pp. $16.

I must admit to some reservations as I eased slowly into this collection of poetry, skeptical that the voices of two contemporary female poets from the mid-west might actually harmonize well enough to think: duet. I didn’t know Twyla Hansen’s work, but being fairly familiar with Linda’s no-nonsense poetry (“Instead of a Death Wish” and “My Uncle Harold Makes Up His Mind” included in this online issue of Dry Crik Review, also appear in this collection), made ‘songs’ in the book’s title somewhat of a stretch for me. But I was wrong.

With this duet dedicated to William Kloefkorn, I have instead become a devout fan of Twyla Hansen’s lines that resonate truthfully and personally:

                    there in a tangle of leaves, in a land of feast and famine,
                    among pears and feeder calves, pines and manure,
                    sweet clover and silage, under the indifferent farmyard sun
                    where for a brief lifetime my brother and I were one.

                    (“Green Apples”)

reminding of that ‘brief lifetime’ shared by my sister and I as children with no one but ourselves to create adventures and wild imaginings. Her titles and subject matter may seem simple and rural, perhaps basic and commonplace compared to what I read from other places, but Hansen’s wide range of consideration, of feeling and a thorough understanding of these basic things celebrates and invigorates the seemingly more mundane aspects of farm life into rich and captivating poetry.

Even though each word has found its place, her language well chosen and consistently real throughout this collection, in her poem “Perfection”, I am so pleased that Hansen concludes:

                    As in trees and in language, a beautiful thing is never perfect.

                    Surely the Neanderthals adapted, related tales of their own survival.
                    The long-ago storyteller in me twitches: I am tireless but to try.
                    Besides, isn’t perfection overrated? Let’s get it roughly right.

But one of many examples of their harmony in this collection, Linda Hasselstrom uses some apt advice from William Stafford in her poem “When a Poet Dies”: When poetry comes hard,/ lower your standards and keep writing, a common chord from a stingy landscape, from rigid folks determined to make a living from the dirt—these are sisters singing “A Plains Duet”.

That I’ve been an advocate for Linda Hasselstrom’s poetry for a long time is probably no secret in my small circle, but the imagery in one of her longer poems, “1971: Across From the Packing Plant”, juxtaposed with those of an unfaithful husband, quakes to darker depths:

                    The knocking of the hammer has begun
                    delivering its metered message.
                    Tonight my husband sings the songs
                    he used to sing to me, but I hear death
                    across the street. Another steer
                    begins to moan, I step outside the door.
                    Soon the butchers will come out to smoke.
                    They’ll hang their gory aprons
                    by the door and wipe the fresh blood from their shoes.
                    And all night long I’ll hear the hammer beat
                    its rhythm, and the howl of blood and death.

There is no false romanticism, no floaty nature poetry, no weak pieces here from either poet, each one a study and delight for me to read, reassured now that “Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet” will be heard for a long time. Thank-you both, we are so blessed.




Acorns and Abalone. By Sylvia Ross. (2011. Bentley Avenue Books, P.O. Box 44040, Lemon Cove, CA 93244) 99 pp. $10.

By reading her poetry and prose, one doesn’t need Sylvia Ross’ family tree to tell she’s native, that she’s Chukchansi, a sub-tribe of the Yokuts that solely occupied the ground around Yosemite, California. And one doesn’t need to study society today to see that the majority is missing some basic understandings about the earth that has sustained us all. Her poetry offers natural windows to her life, without squeamishness or contemporary judgment, where she can hold back witness/ that a broken shell is no more/ beautiful than a beach sand feather. (“THE SEAGULLS’ BANQUET”) At once the reader realizes how we tend to sort our natural surroundings into a hierarchy, and only then to endure its consternation, whether to favor predator or prey. The poet diffuses this baseless order of importance, suggesting she might be both—not unlike comparing children, she would love who they were—by offering the beauty and satisfaction of a much bigger picture in this poem.

A former illustrator for Walt Disney and author of several children’s books, Ross sees herself and her sister as ‘bear women’ with ‘great bear women arms’:

                                We have the power
                                To crash through brush, to smash
                                The clouds and pluck down stars
                                And make a meal.
                                Sister, tonight your voice
                                Brings our mother back to us.
                                Her great bear woman presence
                                Fills all the space
                                Of this room.


So often disconnected from family, few today would see themselves and be so wholly remembered in the form of an animal, but such identities can pack long-lasting power that can trigger memory and presence. Instead we tend to see ourselves in the form of actors or athletes—but for the most part, nothing very permanent.

I also enjoyed the vernacular, the ‘pigeon-English’, because of its plain and simple way of getting things said, a minimalism of sorts appearing in some of the prose and poems that rings truly. There are varied pieces with varied styles, but all with the theme of family and a native culture that endures. This book is dedicated to the resilience of the early women of the West—and to the present women of her family who continue to thrive in its rugged landscape.

                                She says the best knitters of any were her own ancestors
                                Back in Ireland. Her granddaughter Denine works down at the
                                Taco Bell since summer. I ask her if Denine knows how
                                To knit them fine fishermen sweaters. She says kids today
                                Just don’t want to learn nothing what takes time.


A delightful read with depth and force, this collection of work refreshes the senses
to help us suppose:

                                VERTEBRAL DOGGEREL

                                Would it be so difficult to cope
                                with being an ant?
                                It might be nice to be
                                an ant or roach or scorpion,
                                often social, ever industrious.
                                One might hope
                                thoughts more relevant
                                would arise from neurons safely
                                inside an exoskeleton,
                                that ideas, grand and illustrious,
                                would find firing there superior—
                                unimpeded by a bony interior.




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

These are brilliant and delightful poems that soothe mind and heart—unique insights to a life and landscape North Dakotan Rodney Nelson introduces and shares from the inside out and visa-versa, an intertwining of mind and place that is light at times, but more often captivating. (Try as I might to merge this Rodney Nelson with the Rodney Nelson of Cowboy Poetry stages, these North Dakotans are not one in the same.)

These poems move on the page without (permission or) punctuation, each word demanding equal weight, each line its own, often offset as asides in a poem. The closest adherence to form among these thirty poems, some of which have debuted previously in as many as fifteen different small press publications, is “CHANTS FROM NO ONE OTHER”, an excerpt from his longer narrative poem “NO ONE OTHER” that reminds me slightly of a villanelle without the rhyme. But it is the ease in which Nelson navigates his poetic plane, from muddy flats and prairie sage to mountain ranges triggering connected meanings that intrigues me, where more than a memory/ of juniper scent will draw you up/ and make you content to live/ the morning (“BELONG”).

There is a well-thought sadness here, but an acceptance that seldom weighs heavily as the poet escapes with a grin:

                    where men have made a heap of boulders that
                    have no right home in the drought-cracked mud flats here and
                    amid them an only sunflower is working
                    toward tall and I hear the clamant young voice of
                    a crow on the woody other bank
                                        why do I
                    get a hello smile
                                        every young brown woman
                                        of them I meet
                    not one afoot however
                                        go wheeling
                    away from the last elm in the world
                    they know I have nothing on under
                    my skin or maybe its my old Yuma hat

                    (“YUMA HAT”)

Not unlike crossing the Great Basin for me, these poems come from great spaces that ring timelessly, yet familiar, almost as if any inhabitant, man or beast, could have felt and written them down, or as if they were indelibly etched in the land. It is

                                        late afternoon
                    but I had a nose for the world now
                    and knew witch hazel when I smelled it

                    (“EAST OF WALLA WALLA”)

This small but special collection of poems offers a native’s eye and heart. Five Stars!



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



WE DROVE ALL NIGHT. By Red Shuttleworth. (Finishing Line Press, P.O. Box 1506, Georgetown, Kentucky 40324) 25 pp. $12.

Red Shuttleworth covers a lot of ground with this little chapbook of 22 poems. His vistas are varied and wide between lines that look in, as well as out, upon the unique West that we’ve inherited and occupy with the time-clash of ‘kettle-bang thunder’ as each image bucks and runs into the next. With bright and incisive eye, he stirs paradoxes with some tenderness by offering seductive glimpses of real people and places—only barely different from ourselves. ‘Champion roper at twelve,’ “Barbara Moffett (1940)” strips at Hollywood’s Florentine Gardens:

                                               …orchidaceous. But next spring,
                    road money earned, she hopes to win the Saugus Rodeo,
                    have a beer, go shirttail to the frisky wind.

Or the conversation between prizefighters Stanley Ketchel and “Jack Johnson (1909)”:

                    When I think about God,
                    Ketchel says, it makes me cry.
                    Nail holes never heal. Johnson grins,
                    Circle God to his left, unload a right.

Each snapshop colorful, Shuttleworth can either ride through town on a gust or make a study of human nature

                    with a jar of Kessler’s whiskey and water
                    in yet one more deadfall groggery
                    with some ruddy, pocked, half-starved
                    barn dog claiming direct decent
                    from Bat Masterson or Pearl Starr.

With the hard facts, his poetry is almost always sensual, and sometimes voyeuristic as he reasonably ignores his father’s advice in “Tip Fogarty (1963)”:

                    But I love how she poses in the midnight center
                    of her daddy’s pasture, the robe untied, quarter smile,
                    smackin’ hot in the thick white headlight beams
                    of my Dodge pick-up, like a special picnic treat,
                    not one flaw from God, no silly teasing,
                    like I’m some Swedish film director
                    at the high noon of his heart’s requirements.

Our native correspondent, only Red Shuttleworth offers this mirror to, of and from the West we might not otherwise see. “We Drove All Night” is a delightful ride to sip and take slowly, to enjoy and digest.



By John Dofflemyer. (2012. Dry Crik Press. P.O. Box 44320, Lemon Cove, CA 93244. 134 pp. $15.)
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