Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Great Wyoming Drought 2012

I wasn’t going to post for a few more weeks, but I’ve been thinking about what I’ve said before, that my writing inspiration often comes from listening to how people talk and the things they are talking about – listening in to conversation.  Except this poem I wrote, The Great Wyoming Drought 2012, didn’t come from listening in to private conversation around my local neighbourhood, it came from listening to a talk-back radio show about the terrible drought happening in Wyoming, America, and the struggle people are going through trying to survive.  I was taken by the slow, resigned country drawl of this one guy who described his property like the moon.  Ironically, the death of Neil Armstrong had occurred only a few days earlier, so he and the moon were also a topic on the radio.  So I want to put this out there as a gesture that maybe we don’t know it, but there are people in the far flung world who care and are concerned for the plight of others.  I don’t know how the Wyoming drought played out, but I do pray that nature was kind.
Also, with the poem, I loosely set the rhythm to Verdelle Smith’s 1966 song, Tar and Cement (which, I believe was the English version of an Italian song by Adriano Celentano, Ill ragazzo della via Gluck).  I not only recite in the shower – I now sing.
2012.   Listening to the radio  -  a  rancher describes the plight of cattle in what is now the worst drought in America’s mid west since the conditions of the 1930’s described by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath.  As like Steinbeck’s characters, the man talks in a simple, inevitable way - landscape, the decision to move, trying to hang on to animals that are a part of his family.  And at this time the world hears the news that Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon, has died.
The Great Wyoming Drought 2012
I’ve got a meadow,
East of the house.
I’ve never been,
Up to the moon.
Armstrong’s the one,
To know about that.
Now he’s not with us,
It must be the moon.
And Wyoming’s blown away in dust by now,
There are the meadows,
Nature un-kind,
Where are the people,
Across county lines.
Got to keep moving,
Dakota or sell.
Cows are my life.
It’s all that I’ve done.
Don’t know whether,
There’s anything else.
My wife she says maybe,
There’s cows on the moon.
And Wyoming’s blown away in dust by now,
Where are the meadows,
Made into moon,
There are the people,
Broken and doomed.
Last year any place,
Had cattle out there.
Couldn’t run ten,
To keep them alive.
Wouldn’t say that my cows,
Miss Wyoming right now.
Not as if they had stayed,
On the face of the moon.
And Wyoming’s blown away in dust by now,
There are the meadows,
Nature un-kind,
Where are the people,
Crossed county lines.
                                                                                                      J. O. White

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