Archives for posts with tag: Montana

Wieneke
Learning to Ride a Bike
by Connie Wieneke

The Kellers’ kids, theirs and the Indians they’d fostered,
my family invited down from up the road,
a dog or two kicked into shy stillness,
all of us that day a ring around a pen.
As one tribe our hands gripped the fence slats, as if
its rough wood the last promise we expected kept,
and all the while Ruby and Red solemn-faced
slaughtered their hogs.

On that day I learned to ride a bike,
the bike too big—and aren’t they always?—
for my seven-year-old self who knew about always and nothing,
except what the distance between crotch and saddle was:
too far, and then too close, the soles of that child’s shoes
too thin, but when she strained her calves, stretched her legs
long and tough as a boy’s she let the bike wheel
and wobble and snake and coaster bounce across
the gravel road and around the curve to highway blue,
as if it could carry her far enough from the screams
to ease her grip on the rusty handlebars, to forget everyone
hungered for those pigs to die.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My second-grade photo — taken the same year that I learned to ride a bike near Havre, Montana.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have worked on this poem in various guises since 2009. The pigs and learning to ride a bike have been inextricably connected in my mind and body. I wanted to capture our lives out there on the Highline of northern Montana at that moment.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Connie Wieneke has been working on a collection of poems about her family, from the perspective of herself as a child and then as an adult navigating the deaths of her parents. Her work has appeared in Stand, Cutbank, Owen Wister Review, Clerestory, Northern Lights, and Silver Birch Press.

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IN A TRAIN
by Robert Bly

There has been a light snow.
Dark car tracks move in and out of the darkness.
I stare at the train window marked with soft dust.
I have awakened at Missoula, Montana, utterly happy. 

Illustration: Vintage postcard by Curt Teich & Co.

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ONCE, DRIVING WEST OF BILLINGS, MONTANA
by Susan Mitchell

I ran into the afterlife.
No fluffy white clouds. Not even stars. Only sky
dark as the inside of a movie theater
at three in the afternoon and getting bigger all the time,
expanding at terrific speed
over the car which was disappearing,
flattening out empty
as the fields on either side.

It was impossible to think
under that rain louder than engines.
I turned off the radio to listen, let my head
fill up until every bone
was vibrating—sky.

Twice, trees of lightning
broke out of the asphalt. I could smell
the highway burning. Long after, saw blue smoke twirling
behind the eyeballs, lariats
doing fancy rope tricks, jerking silver
dollars out of the air, along with billiard cues, ninepins.

I was starting to feel I could drive forever
when suddenly one of those trees was right in front of me.
Of course, I hit it—
branches shooting stars down the windshield,
poor car shaking like a dazed cow.
I thought this time for sure I was dead
so whatever was on the other side had to be eternity.

Saw sky enormous as nowhere. Kept on driving.
***
“Once, Driving West of Billings, Montana” appears in Susan Mitchell’s collection The Water Inside the Water (Wesleyan University Press, 1983).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Susan Mitchell grew up in New York City and now lives in Boca Raton, Florida. She has a B.A. in English literature from Wellesley College, an M.A. from Georgetown University, and was a PhD student at Columbia University. She has taught at Middlebury College and Northeastern Illinois University, and currently holds the Mary Blossom Lee Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Florida Atlantic University. She has published poems in literary journals and magazines including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and The Paris Review. Her poems have also been included in five volumes of The Best American Poetry and two Pushcart Prize volumes. (Source: wikipedia.org)

PHOTO: “Montana, Big Sky Country” by Sherri Jo, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Image
IN A TRAIN
by Robert Bly

There has been a light snow.
Dark car tracks move in and out of the darkness.
I stare at the train window marked with soft dust.
I have awakened at Missoula, Montana, utterly happy. 

Illustration: Vintage postcard by Curt Teich & Co.

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IN A TRAIN

Poem by Robert Bly

There has been a light snow.

Dark car tracks move in and out of the darkness.

I stare at the train window marked with soft dust.

I have awakened at Missoula, Montana, utterly happy. 

Illustration: Vintage postcard by Curt Teich & Co.