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for people who care about the West

Dear friends



We usually focus on hard-hitting news about the West, not sonnets and blank verse. But to lighten things up, we thought we'd share a couple of poems we recently received from readers.

Subscriber Susanne Twight-Alexander of Eugene, Ore., sent us verses inspired by her reading of Home Ground. The book, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney, is a reference to geographical and landscape features and a delightful trove of forgotten and obscure words. Here's a short excerpt from the poem:

Two pages every night and
I'm ready to sleep.
Not because it's dull,
but the words, describing land
formations, give me solace.
More than two would be
overwhelming. Who could not be reassured by
the cadence of the names and
their defining words as they
flow across the landscape, ripples
of what is and of what we
like the details of a
topographic map:
abutment, acequia, aquifer
and arch ...
delta, den, dome and dry valley;
earth pillar, eddy, erratic and
esker ...
haystack, headwall,
homestead and hummock;
ice fall, inlet, island arc and
jackstraws, jaral, jetty and
jolla ...
mainland, meadow, morro
and mountain.
Who could not rest more easily,
seeing how the power of the earth
reaches into our hearts.
And I have reached only M.

Author Richard F. Fleck of Denver, Colo., recently sent us his poem about a sunrise on a peak in Utah's La Sal Range:

I crawled out of my sleeping bag
at Geyser Pass high in the
La Sals
just before sunrise to walk out on
the meadow and look across at
Mellenthin Mountain, dark
and gray,
but with a tinge of light near its
summit, and as the sun rose,
the mountain's north face turned
into a fancy's show box with
the slightest color of pink
taking over from the summit
downwards, but as the pink
spread lower, a reddish tinge
took over and as it diffused, a
golden glow enveloped all
until the mountain became its
dark-gray self with just a touch
of dancing wispy crests of snow.


Our Feb. 18 issue mentioned "ferrets," but should have specified "black-footed ferrets," and the photo should have showed the endangered critter rather than a domestic ferret. "Well, you ain't the only one," commented alert reader Guy Tudor. "New York Magazine had an article on upstate goat farming and cheese production. You'll never guess what goat photograph their editor selected" - a mountain goat. Thanks, we feel better.