Photo by W.M. Jones
Photo by W.M. Jones

I attended a candlelight vigil organized by the South Dakota State University Nepalese Student Association late last week. The recent earthquake has been devastating for their home country, and  this was an opportunity for the SDSU and Brookings communities to show their support for the Nepalese people during this very difficult time. You can read more about SDSU’s response to the earthquake here.

I attended the vigil Thursday night, and left the event that evening with some ideas for a poem. Usually I like to let new poems sit for a while and work on them later when I can be more objective, but it seemed to me that I should share this poem now while the event is so fresh in all of our minds. Please forgive me if it seems a little rough around the edges since I just wrote it today.

for the Nepalese earthquake victims

About one hundred
of us move ahead
to come closer
to join hands
and I hear
the grass whisper
as we shuffle forward.

Later, at home
I hear the soft
murmur of the rain
through the closed window
and open it
to listen, to hope.


More Fall Pictures

In her poem “Plentitude,” Barbara Crooker beautifully describes the evening light as streaming “from the west like honey.” Long shadows caused by the low angle of the sun creep across the landscape as the days grow shorter, and we’re left feeling a little sad that summer is saying goodbye. It sounds like the thermometer readings could fall dramatically soon. Maybe the warm colors in these autumn pictures will warm us up a little bit when the white stuff comes! Here are some more pictures I took a few weeks ago when I wandered outside to enjoy the sunset:

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Ag Museum Reading

I thank everyone for their patience who ordered a book several months ago. It has been a long wait for the book to be printed and shipped, and I sincerely hope that you receive your books soon.

There will be some opportunities to get your book signed and one of them is coming up in a couple of weeks. The South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum on the South Dakota State University campus here in Brookings is hosting a Reading/Signing event on April 29th at 7 p.m.

Weaving my poems and photographs together is a combination that worked well  in my first book, Campus Sketches, so I’m preparing a slide show of my pictures to accompany the poems I read at the Ag Museum. Even though At the Rim of the HorizonDsc_01562008-06-12 has only one picture (the one on the cover), many of the poems were inspired by the scenes that were often the subject of many of my photographs. The windmill picture on the front cover of the book is one that I took back in September of last year, just a few weeks before I received the news that Finishing Line Press had accepted my manuscript for publication. That same windmill is the subject of one of the poems in the book, and is one of my favorite photographic subjects. Even though a poem is supposed to be written well enough to create pictures in the reader’s mind, I think that you may enjoy seeing some of the actual places and things that I write about.

I hope to see you there!


The Poem I Almost Wrote


I met a friend for lunch a few days ago, and she asked me whether I’d done any writing this week. Part of our commitment to each other as friends is to encourage, remind, and sometimes even pester one another to take the time to do what is important to us. For me, that would be writing. It’s so easy to put off, to find myriad other things that need to be done. I made a promise to my friend some years back that I would set aside some time at least once a week to work on my writing, and she gently reminds me each time we meet.

I scooped up a spoonful of soup and said, “well, I almost wrote a poem yesterday.” She smiled and I went on … “I went to my writing desk and turned on the computer and monitor, but that was as far as I got.” I had jotted down some notes after walking the dog a few days earlier, and I wanted to see if I could shape them into a poem.  “I’m not sure what distracted me, but I think it was skiing. There were a couple of inches of powder on top of the crusty snow, the temperature was actually above zero, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t have too many more chances this winter.”


I sometimes come up with ideas for writing when I ski, so I think that it can be construed as writing time. After bundling up and strapping on skis I grabbed my camera and started out to the west  edge of the yard where I saw a three-square-foot area where snow had been scraped away. The only tracks that I could see nearby were made by deer, so I reasoned that it must have been either a scrape made by a buck to stake out a place for mating, or an attempt to get at some food. I decided on the latter since it’s a little late for the breeding season. Next I wanted to check out the field on the other side of the draw where I often see deer foraging in the late afternoon when I come home from work. I found lots of deer trails and followed one of them to a nearby shelterbelt where I saw two deer standing and watching me. I called back the dog to keep him from chasing them, and watched their white tails bob back and forth as they trotted through the trees. I reached the top of a rise and snapped pictures of distant wind turbines against a clear blue sky. When I turned to start back home, I saw two more deer standing near the edge of the field. They watched me for a bit to try to figure out what I was, but they vanished when I started moving again. The sun was setting when I reached the edge of our yard and saw some dead grass with a hollowed out area in front. I took a closer look and realized that it was a cozy deer bed within feet of the dog kennel,DSC_0457 hidden by brush, grass, and the stump of a dead tree. After I got back inside, I snuggled up in my “deer blanket” (a fuzzy blanket with a deer design on it) and wrote in my journal about my skiing experiences and discoveries.  I passed my writing desk on my way to bed that night, heard the computer running, and remembered my good intentions to work on a poem.

I have lost many “poems I almost wrote”  because of distractions, deliberately choosing to do something else, or simply because life couldn’t wait for me to devote the necessary time to them. I think that maybe poets are often filled with regret for the poems we lose, but I console myself with the thought that some poems will never be written, they can only be lived. I am so grateful for all of the poems in my life. Now please excuse me – I have a poem to write.