Monday, February 13, 2012

There's this cowboy poem I heard once, late at night in a bar in Utah, sick with space poisoning and fatigue and not nearly enough whiskey. I like the rhythm of cowboy poetry, how long it takes to get to the point, all the space between where it starts and where it ends. Cowboy poetry sounds like a map more than just about anything else, the call and response of open spaces and going nowhere in no kind of a hurry.

Anyway, the poem is about a woman who marries and moves to a remote ranch. One day her husband is thrown from his horse and killed, although all she ever knows is that he never comes back. Alone on the ranch she writes poems and ties them to tumbleweeds, which are taken by the wind and fall into the hands of lonely cowboys all over the plains. The poem has a happy ending, but my favorite part is the possibility of the unclaimed tumbleweeds, tangled in fences and underbrush, just waiting for whatever happens next.

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