SHUT THIS GATE
In the twilight, wild-eyed Appaloosas weave open range,
while lemon meadowlarks sing of true, naive open range.
You ride from the wind-scarred town, packs stuffed with standard regrets
and typical rage, hoping you can achieve open range.
Nature’s stranger to right angle. All ascent is curve. Raw
colt, this unbroke earth, which can hardly conceive open range.
All the empty in the world. Grass tall enough to swallow
horse and rider. By morning’s first breath, frost-heave open range.
Model wars ’tween cattleman and shepherd, fair and balanced
fights over meat and dough in a flash could peeve open range.
Johnson County, Lincoln County, Pleasant Valley—each tiff
sparked by gall, by mingy whim of those who thieve open range.
With every post a prow, every board an ax, every barb
a penetrating blade, cut by cut we cleave open range.
First man who fenced some land and found someone simple enough
to believe it truly his—that dude could reave open range.
There’s never been a factory, film set or frontier that
couldn’t be shut down. Big deal. You’ll never leave open range.
When closing comes clocks shrug. What tack to take? Into which wind?
The Director’s Cut: to make-believe, or grieve, open range?
Facing Dairy Queens and Burger Kings, driving Mustangs down
stoplit drags, we forget to remember we’ve open range.