Tag Archives: National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

AT MACHI’S

 

 

The Elko undercurrents
often missed by journalists,
the thoughtful streams
of love and long respect
retained for old friends—
those profound associations
not secreted away,
but obvious.

My right hand offered
held in his both
as he contemplates
my eyes, and I his.
We breathe deeply.

Two gray old men
standing silent,
face to face
stretching time
within a loud crowd,
we block the aisle
beside a tableful of friends,
warm food and wine.

We know we are rare
birds in these fast times,
reading, writing poetry—
reaching for what we know
exists: like the language
of horses, cattle and people
who live on the land
it takes a lifetime to learn
and understand.

                                  for Joel Nelson

 

Ramblin Jack Elliott

 

 

One of a kind! By my reckoning, it was over fifty years ago when I first heard Jack at the Ashgrove. Amazing!

 

Hard To Believe

 

 

Kevin Martini-Fuller has been taking photographs of all the poets and performers at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering since its inception in 1985. Many portraits were exhibited this year in the Wiegand Gallery at the Pioneer Hotel, headquarters for the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada. I’m flattered to have been paired in the exhibit with Glenn Ohrlin (1926-2015), a NEA Fellow and friend.

I have been certainly blessed to have spent most of my life on this ranch, 31 years of which have also been associated with cowboy poetry and music, a fork in the road that has changed my life, acquainting me with many, many friends scattered across the West. Looking back, it’s hard to believe, but the emotional proof is among the hundreds of images on these gallery walls.

 

I Found Myself in Elko


As we were leaving Cowboy Joe’s with coffee, Bob spotted me this morning in downtown Elko, on Cedar Creek’s store window—an aged portrait by Kevin Martini-Fuller with my poem “Our Time”, dedicated to our neighbors at home, Virginia and Kenny McKee.

By scanning the bar code in lower left hand corner, you can hear my recitation of the poem or see ‘Audio Poems’ in the menu above.

WELCOME WINTER

 

 

How I welcome winter now
as the sun slides south
towards Arizona,
towards old friends
that graze red rockpiles
we will meet in Nevada—
too far away to worry,
livestock on its own.

I can hear the harmonies
reverberate, cat gut
atop thin slices of spruce
from Canada—I feel
my heart lift away
from the maladies
our fears and guilt have made
insurmountable.

How I welcome winter’s
gathering, branding smoke
on weather-slick roads,
bull-stretched fences
and dear neighbors
gearing up-for one last holler
to all the gods
that have sustained us.

 

Gail & Amy

 

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This iPhone photo inexplicably popped-up on my computer this morning, reminding me of how much fun we had in Elko for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

It’s been 6 days since any rain and the ground is drying out in places. We crossed the creek yesterday in the Kubota, 175 cfs, water in the floorboards. It’s time to go to work.

 

Elko Sunset

 

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Familiar faces gather,
make camp where it’s warm
in the middle of Nowhere,

Nevada for a song
before the winter sun sets
and the lights come on.

 

En Route with the Point and Shoot

 

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It’s been years since we’ve seen much snow in the Great Basin, and despite its potential hazards and inconvenience, it’s a heartening sign of better health. January is a time of daily feeding for cattle ranchers in Nevada with temperatures hovering around zero — a pretty tough breed of man and beast!

 

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RAINDROPS

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Following fifty tons
through light showers
across Nevada,

big alfalfa bales
towards our dry
California home,

we focus on raindrops
streaking reality
after a week of poetry

and song, to feel
our poor possibilities
grow by the truckload—

heavy with an endless
emptiness in our bellies
beneath the straps

of seat belts
before another wreck.
We hang on.

 

Six Pix: Great Basin Home

 

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With a leisurely, late start from Elko, we encountered a few midday showers Monday, crossing Nevada’s Great Basin between Carlin and Tonopah, making for some interesting high-speed photos with the point and shoot.

 

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Under a dark cloud outside Eureka, a blurry foreground beneath a crisp Lone Mountain on the ‘Lonliest Road in America’ (US 50).

 

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Hay headed to dry California.

 

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We stopped for a bowl of soup at the refurbished and reopened Mizpah in Tonopah,

 

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then headed into to the sunset towards Bishop.

 

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