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Road Trip to Elko: Cowboy Poetry – Final

After a week of the most stimulating input imaginable, I woke up on the morning of our departure with–surprise–poetry just pouring out of me! The first one woke me up at 5:00 am with a pounding heart–I think it was saying “Let me out!”–and by 5:05 am my first poem had written itself. As we drove home and shared the wheel, I spent my “off” time writing and writing, and it hasn’t stopped yet. Apparently poetry is a highly contagious virus. You can catch it in Elko!

Looking at our first blogs, I laugh—the cold weather we packed for and expected turned into a banana belt heat wave, and expect for some very cold overnight temperatures that required our heaviest jackets and gloves, we mostly just dressed like we do at home. After lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Truckee, where we stopped for a photo in front of a picturesque old gas station sign, we made good time over the Sierras, and stopped for a final photo shoot at the same scenic overlook where we’d shot photos last Monday on the way up. The snow was gone, the day sunny and bright.

Max met us at the turnoff to Anne’s ranch, we unloaded luggage from her truck to our jeep, then we headed south towards home, stopping for a bite to eat and a long, glowing overview of our week’s adventures.

Follow-up, Tuesday morning 3 February 2009: The poetry that began in Elko is still just popping up—hard to say where it’s coming from, but I seem to have received some kind of gift to be sensitive to and recognize moments of crystal clarity around me, and to put them down in layers of meaning. I hope and pray this gift stays with me. Who knows? Anyway, here, to wrap up our Cowboy Poetry adventure, are some of my own poems, and the best mementos I have brought home from this fabulous experience:

I heard this term, Catch and Release (yes, the fishing term) used to describe modern dating…but I also thought it apropos to the overwhelming whirl of performances, culture, experiences, and moments of and friendships experienced during this week’s Gathering:

Catch and Release

Oh! A sudden tug,

Then this spinning

Push-pull dance

Invisible connection

Between two living souls

Exhilarating struggle


In my hands

Such gleaming perfection

Shining colors

Silver and turquoise

Purple, grey and blue

Unspeakable beauty

In my hands

Held for a moment


But I cannot keep it

And I cannot kill it


I let it go

What Cost

One shouldn’t go shopping in Elko—

Though temptations aplenty abound:

Buy this book, or this jacket, this music—

I’m not looking, but look what I found!

One shouldn’t go shopping in Elko—

No matter what treasures you see:

For the Gathering brings you such choices

Like the friendships—the friendships are free!

Kick-Ass Muse

Kick-ass muse

Wakes me early

Sends me words


to get out

Too dark to

Flick a light on

To write

Can’t wake Anne

So the poems just

Shine in

My head

Grab a scrap of


And write

Sitting in the


Kick-ass muse!

When the Hats Come into Town

When the hats come into town

strange birds perch on peoples’

heads, their wings, unflapping

fly around town.

Flocks swirl from here to there

they congregate awhile

then off they go again,


the hats come into town.

Let me tell you, these poets and performers can really lead you around by the nose—or ears!

No Bridle

Don’t need no bridle…

You can flick ‘em

around easy

Just tell a good, long story—

Something poignant and deep—

follow with a good joke then

hit ‘em quick with a real sad ballad.

Won’t need no bridle

to get ‘em where you

want to go.

And if they won’t go, pull

on their ears some more.


Home again, home again

Has it been days?

Or lifetimes and worlds away—

I am dazed.

Exhausted, refreshed and

Renewed and reborn

Home again, home again


Shoulda Gone

Ran into Kathy

at the market just now—she

and Bob used to cowboy

near Elko 30 years ago or more.

Said they’d planned to go

to the Gathering

21 years ago but

their daughter called, said

she was getting

married—so they


Kids got divorced, what,

15 years ago now?

Said she thought

maybe they shoulda gone

after all.

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