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Posts from the ‘FRESH’ Category



Out of season calves
appear one day, indicating
things gone wrong in the

How they flesh out neglect, holes in fences,
unperceived shortcomings in one’s plans.
Yet there they are, robust,
sprightly creatures shimmering
in the morning

like new leaves; dear
to whom they’ve come
as breath itself, misbegotten
signs of what, we pray, shall ever keep
in this world.

                                by Sean Sexton



The light this hour
So little holds the sky,
enters our room—enough
for love’s secret toil

and aftermath, things
small as this light, overwhelmed
by a world it wakens. See
the moon’s nimble

gleaming over the treetops,
frog on each trunk climbing
through saffron to bed.

A single bird voices
the last dim clarity
before rising mists
untenure our dreams.

                                by Sean Sexton



John Reedy Photo



I’m wearing my pants aint I?
My grandfather would say.

Never go around without a pocket knife
is what Joe Yates told us,
Or someday someone will beat the shit out of you!

This morning, I sent the boys out to feed the calves. They
Hesitated, drove back to me yelling, throw us your knife—
We need it to open the bags. Not a blade between them.

Now I’m the man
without his pocketknife.

                                                by Sean Sexton


Driftin 2

John Reedy Photo



                 “Why do you seek the living among the dead?
                                                                     Luke 24:5

What might have been a fallen star,
glittering in the distance
became the dreaded sight—
A heifer in trouble, calving.

But she was dead, still warm,
her uterus prolapsed: half its length
inside out, entwined with torn

a useless vision consigned
to heartache, awe and abandon
with all thought
of her.

But the calf
must still be inside.
How was he lodged,
what went wrong?

I tried to push in and find him;
but tides of flesh kept me out.
I cut across the tissues with my knife,
opened her, loosing a wash

of blood, removed
and set aside the mass,
reached in to

He must be out, I thought, rising
to walk in circles around her
searching clumps of grass for him—
But nothing.

I left,
drove toward cows in the distance,
noticed in the woods
a small, dark form,

soggy and disheveled,
nursing the knob of a tree,
sucking anything to connect
with this world.

I caught and bound and carried him
home and called on the phone
for someone to take him:
Do you want a red baby brahma bull?

Cousin Rob said he’d sworn off bottle-raising calves,
but a brahma bull—too much to resist.
Save him for me, he said,
I’ll be by.

In the pen, he sucked the boards, posts, climbed
through the shed, sucking things stored there;
sucked my hands, my pants, the gate as I tricked him
to escape.

Colostrum, I thought,
is out there in her.
He won’t be worth a shit without it,
The old timers say.

I couldn’t go there again—but I couldn’t not go.
so I found the blue bucket on a shelf,
washed a cup and empty milk jug and
in ten minutes,

udder by udder,
I’m stripping out a dead cow
in the full light of day,
wondering who I am.

It comes cold with every grasp, hissing into the cup.
Fingers tired, I stop— add it to the jug,
continue, hands sticky, aching, keeping on
until there’s no more.

Warmed on the stove and poured in the bucket,
a minute later I’m coaxing a nipple into his mouth,
little teeth cutting me as I hold his muzzle,
squeeze his jaw open and shut till the rhythm catches

and soon he’s enlivened, autonomous,
tail wagging, tongue working,
swallowing the elixir
of life.

                                                   by Sean Sexton



Write it
the voice said, the one
inside my head
at dawn. Oh no
the one outside my head
said in reply,
too late.

Write it so even
the most complacent of us
will feel the loss, will want
to drive that old
one-and-a-half lane road
one last time
before it’s improved
before it’s disappeared

beneath the weight of heavy equipment:
bulldozers, graders, backhoes
and things I don’t even want to know
the names of, beneath the press
of what some folks call progress,
under the heel
of the invisible boot.

Write it for all the settlers
who once tried to make that valley
home. Write it for the school children
who learned their three R’s right there
beside the windmill, just across
from the dynamite shack. Write it
for Joe Ely the barber, the last
Yokodo born on that land
who never slit a white man’s throat
despite the opportunities. Write it
for yourself, despite the agonies
of facing that land’s demise
so when it’s gone you won’t
slit your own.

Write it even for the cyclists
who fly across the landscape
too fast to see
except when pumping hard

Write it so the big men
will feel some guilt. Write it
so the cowboys and ranch hands,
the ones almost out of a job,
will feel honored. Write it so
the tragedy of too much
money power land
in ignorant hands
will be clear
as day.

But don’t just write it
a third voice said somewhere between
inside and out, within the gray zone dividing
dark and light. Sing it, she said compellingly,
a suggestive note in her voice
modulating up half a step.

Sing it sweet
for the meadowlarks
warbling on rusty barbed wire.
Sing it soft so there’s no hard line
between you and them. Sing it long
until no reservations remain whether to move
or stay put and lose. Sing it clear so there’s no
second guessing, no second opinions, no
second chances for those with dreams
of developing that valley
by destroying it.
Sing it, she said
so I will.

                                            by Trudy Wischemann



The barn doors swing
with the wind. Crash!
Back and forth. Slap!
Again. Slam! Again. Again.
The tenants of my parents’ house
are home. The kids fed
their show calf,
walking back and forth
through those doors,
and left them open.

Slap! My father used to say,
“My shadow on this place
is worth ten bucks a day,
making his point while, as usual
seriously undervaluing himself.
Each slam loosens the bolts
a little more. Inside my house
I’m a quarter mile away
from those barn doors.
But in the sound of their destruction,
I hear my father’s voice.

Trying to ignore him, I sip tea
from a bone china cup, the last
of my grandmother’s set.
She taught me to love tea
as we celebrated the end
of a work day, happily tired
because no job was left undone.

Grandmother and father.
I grab hammer, wrench, nails
and head for the barn.
Their shadows trail behind,
muttering and nodding.

                                       by Linda M. Hasselstrom


Driftin 1

John Reedy Photo



John Reedy Photo