Poem of the Week | January 29, 2013

This week we’ve dug up a James Galvin poem from the early days of TMR, 1982, to be exact, issue 6:1. Much of Galvin’s work concerns the ecology of the great west, including Wyoming, where he ranches. A teacher at the Iowa workshops, and a novelist, he is the author of several poetry collections, including Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975–1997 and X (2003).

A Poem from the Edge of America


There are ways of finding things, like stumbling on them.
Or knowing what you’re looking for.
A miss is as good as a mile.
There are ways to put the mind at ease, like dying,
But first you have to find a place to lie down.


Once, in another life, I was a boy in Wyoming.
I called freedom home.
I had walked a long time into a high valley.
A river ran through it. It was late,
And I was looking for a place to lie down,


Which didn’t keep me from stumbling
On something, believe me, I never wanted to find.
It was only the skeleton of someone’s horse,
Saddled and bridled and tied to a tree.
When I woke in the morning it was next to me.


The rider must have wandered off, got turned around
And lost. It must have been winter.
The horse starved by the tree.
When we say, what a shame, whose shame do we mean?
In earnest of stability water often rages,


But rivers find their banks again, in earnest of the sea.
This ocean I live on can’t hold still.
I want to go home to Wyoming and lie down
Like that river I remember with a valley to flow in,
The ocean half a continent away.


The horse I spoke of isn’t a reason,
Although it might be why.