Road Trip to Elko: Cowboy Poetry - Final

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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 Then In my hands Such gleaming perfection Shining colors Silver and turquoise Purple, grey and blue Unspeakable beauty In my hands Held for a moment Only But I cannot keep it And I cannot kill it So! 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 Pounding 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 Paper And write Sitting in the Bathroom

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, when 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 cancelled.

Kids got divorced, what, 15 years ago now?

Said she thought maybe they shoulda gone after all.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at