Poems of the Week

These two  were requested by Ray Olson.

Badger Clark, Jr.

A Border Affair

Spanish is the lovin' tongue,
Soft as music, light as spray.
'Twas a girl I learnt it from,
Livin' down Sonora way.
I don't look much like a lover,
Yet I say her love words over
Often when I'm all alone—
"Mi amor, mi corazon."

Nights when she knew where I'd ride
She would listen for my spurs,
Fling the big door open wide,
Raise them laughin' eyes of hers
And my heart would nigh stop beatin'
When I heard her tender greetin',
Whispered soft for me alone
"Mi amor! mi corazon!"

Moonlight in the patio,
Old Señora noddin' near,
Me and Juana talkin' low
So the Madre couldn't hear—
How those hours would go a-flyin;!
And too soon I'd hear her sighin'
In her little sorry tone—
"Adios, mi corazon!"

But one time I had to fly
For a foolish gamlin' fight,
And we said a swift goodbye
In that black, unlucky night.
When I'd loosed her arms from clingin'
With her words the hoofs kep' ringin'
As I galloped north alone—
"Adios, mi corazon"

Never seen her since that night,
I kain't cross the Line, you know.
She was Mex and I was white;
Like as not it's better so.
Yet I've always sort of missed her
Since that last wild night I kissed her,
Left her heart and lost my own—
"Adios, mi corazon!"

Clark is considered the father of cowboy poetry.

Lost by Hayden Carruth

Many paths in the woods have chos-

  en me, many a time,

and I wonder often what this

  choosing is: a sublime

intimation from far outside

  my consciousness (or for

that matter from far inside) or

  maybe some train of mor-

tality set in motion at

  my birth (if our instru-

ments of observation were fine

  and precise enough to

trace it) or maybe only dis-

  parate appeal, pure chance,

the distant drumming of a par-

  tridge in spring, the advanc-

ing maple-color along a

  lane in fall, or only

that the mud was less thick one way

  than another way. Free

or determined? Again and a-

  gain I went the one way

and not the other, who knows why?

  I wish I could know. May-

be it would explain the other

  things that worry me. But

I have no compulsive need now,

  not any longer. What

I know is that whether I walked

  freely or trudged exhaust-

ed I chose one way each time and

  ended by being lost.

I think I sought it. I think I

  could not know myself un-

til I did not know where I was.

  Then my self-knowledge con-

tinued for a while while I found

  my way again in fear

and reluctance, lost truly at

  last. I changed the appear-

ances of myself to myself

  continually and

losing and finding were the same,

  as now I understand.

This is from Carruth's Asphalt Georgics (1985), in which most of the other poems are in the same meter and, usually, dramatic monologues as well as ballads.


The Fleming Foundation

1 Response

  1. Raymond Olson says:

    Actually, I submitted rather than requested.