Wyoming is Like No Other Place on Earth: Poems
Riverside Geyser in Yellowstone
Deep rumbles are overheard
above the flow of Firehole River;
puffs of steam with water
splash over the side,
and then quiet and calm
until nauseous bursts of
steaming water roil forth
and a great cloud of
spewing steam reaches
the sky with its own
trail of fallout dropping back
on the river like an
old-time river steamboat
chugging up the wide Missouri.
Along the Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone gently
flows with swirling eddies
smooth as clear brownish ice,
looking as though Hansel
and Gretel had whirled
there on fairy-tale skates.
But wait, now the river twists
through valleys of bison
and gray-green sagebrush
at a much faster rate.
If you listen closely, you can
hear thundering waterfalls
only miles ahead where the
river plunges three hundred feet
as liberated spirit vapors
in streaks of white and green.
Wispy burnt pines line
severely darkened ridges
sixteen years after the fire
when flames leapt to stars
generating their own weather.
But none of that now--
just green tongues of saplings
spreading much like flames
in the light of quarter moon.
As we read aloud some Indian poetry
around a smoking fire high
on western short-grass prairies,
an eerie light gleams through
extended branches of cottonwoods
lighting up the bark-like flesh,
and rustling leaves rattle like gourds
of some giant dancer brightly illumed
with moon of cottonwood numbing
our spirits into total submission.
We merge with xylem and phloem
to rise within our fibers
out to leafy branches
swaying to greet the stars.
Green buds tip sagebrush
scenting canyon's sunny side
across from lingering snow
where wild, twisted pines grow
giving voice to thrusts of wind
making alleluias inside seem tame,
and then a white and wrinkled moon
appears at horizon's edge
looking as barren as prairie
far below except for its green tinge.
Clouds, clouds, clouds--
slowly said out loud.
Clouds shed rain
Clouds drop sleet
Clouds shed snow
Clouds drop hail.
Clouds become grayer
than glacial-stream water,
but then they can change
to fluffy white cotton balls.
Clouds take shape into
horsehair and snakes
and dragons and ghosts--
Bright clouds form into futuristic
visions, but misty clouds conceal
our deepest concerns, or at very
least they make us yearn until
they suddenly rattle with lightning
awakening us from our dreams,
to dream of newer worlds to come.
Homesick for Wyoming
Somehow I feel so terribly homesick
driving, years later, along an interstate,
roaming southward through Wyoming
towards Cheyenne through Chugwater.
The Laramie Range is veiled in cloud,
and strands of fog spread out prairie-wide
with pungent scent of sagebrush in early
June. I remember staying at an old log
ranch-house with a crackling wood fire
and drinking steaming cowboy-strong coffee.
And all night long I hear yipping and howling
coyotes under a rising, cloudy moon.