Nebraska Gods


The sunflower leaps out of the prairie
Foregrounded and unique with dozens
Of identical twins bobbing
Alongside the dusty section road.

This Nebraska corner,
At once fecund and desolate,
With its limitless horizon and sky
And limited possibilities.

Before immigrants emigrated here
The river
The cottonwoods
The larks were here.

The river, the trees, the birds
Carried the weight of Willa Cather’s death and happiness:
“part of something entire,
whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge.”

They carried my weight, too,
One warm, breezy, September day.
I looked for Cather’s vistas
And ate lunch in her cousin’s house.

They support my purpose now,
My imaginative setting for philosophy
Written and inscribed here
As the river inscribes the hills.

The landscape bears the burden
Of poppies and people
Homes, hopes, ideas.
Gods holding back no one’s dreams.

The Horsewomen’s Litany

2017-03-16 08.38.11
-for Gus

You are the pitchfork and the muck bucket,
The pellets and the alfalfa.
You are the clank of Priefert panels,
The fingers of sunrise.
You are the pink of the pyjamas
and the blue heelers suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the rush of water in the tank,
the peppermint treats on the shelf,
or the rubber mats in the stall.
And you are certainly not the hay-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the hay-scented air.

It is possible that you are the mouse under the hay feeder,
Maybe even the silly tongue protruding from your serious face.
But you are not even close
to being the Black-Eyed Susan in the breeze.

And a quick glance at your reflection will show
that you are neither the wheelbarrow in the corner
nor the saddles asleep on the saddle racks.

“It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,”
that I am the sound of grain hitting the bucket.

I also happen to be the dawn full moon
the wisp of hay blowing down the aisle
and the basket of apples in the tack room.

I am also the owl in the trees
and the gelding’s soft lead rope.
But don’t worry, I am not the pitchfork and the muck bucket.
You are still the pitchfork and the muck bucket.
You will always be the pitchfork and the muck bucket,
not to mention the pellets and –somehow– the alfalfa.

–a parody of Billy Collins’ “Litany” (which is a parody of Jacques Crickillon)

Video of Billy Collins reading “Litany”