"An ever-intriguing writer."
"A genuine talent."



You Can Lead A Horse To Water

Is there any animal that could
look more at home with its landscape
than the horse and the vast North American Prairies?
And yet Equus Ferus Caballus is not indigenous to these lands.
It was the Europeans who brought the first horses
to the The New World during the mid 16th century.
In return we got the potato and the rolling tobaccy.
But the Native Indian Peoples had foreseen
these strange new creatures in their visions,
and took to them like ducks may take to fresh water.
Naming them Medicine Elks and The Big Dog.
I may have grow-up amongst the countryside,
but the only people I ever remember seeing
on horseback when I was a child, were on the television.
And oftentimes, they were riding their noble steeds in black-and-white.
The Lone Ranger had Silver, whilst William S. Hart had his trusty Fritz.
Like streaks of black-and-white lightning flashing cross the sky.
Like the swiftest of black-and-white arrows whizzing from a bow.
My four-legged companion out on the trail today is Chase;
a left-brain introverted Appaloosa, standing
16-hands high, and noted for his grumpiness
as much as his irregular leopard-splotched coat.
But spotted horses have long been considered magical.
And me and Mr. Chase are working on a shared belief
in the universal force that permeates all living things.
My thighs against the fenders. My feet loose in the stirrups.
My foreign landlubbing scent upon his slick back. Upon his withers.
A switch of a comet-like tail. A flaring of
warm nostrils. An evacuation of the bowels.
The High Plains overwhelm and enchant in equal measure.
They are a sacred and haunted place, where
the winds yawn down straight from heaven.
The steady movement beneath me. The creak-creak-creak of baked leather.
It would be all to easy to enter into some kind of a trance.
To see day turn to night. Turn to day. Turn to night again.
To witness a nebula of silent spilling stars keeling overhead.
To be blessed with 350-degrees of sight. To see The Milky Way laid bare.
To dream of The Ghostdance and The Hummingbird
is to dream of a better world still yet to be re-made.
There’s no land but this land old-timer. So giddy-up
and follow those travois-tracks deep into the wanderlust.

Anti Monkey Butt Powder available here



Song Of The Rocking Z Dude Ranch

Across The Great Divide,
in a hole between two hills,
beside the shining Little Prickly Pear,
stands the ranch of one Zackary Wirth;
eldest son of a local catskinner named “Butch”.
The Wirth family hail from faraway Germany originally.
Zackary's great-grandfather came West in search of gold dust in the year 1862,
and his grandfather was a tailor who cut meat for the military before
marrying himself a pretty Swedish courtesan in the summer of 1876.
The same year in which the Wirth family first
homesteaded this patch of swooning grassland.
Make no bones about it, Zack’s a man’s man through-and-through.
And Montanan to the core. Right to the very quick.
A God-fearing paterfamilias with a preacher-man's beard
and an infectious belly-laugh as uproarious as all hell.
A buckaroo who could ride on horseback before he could walk.
The enduring romantic appeal of the cowboy, he tells me,
lies in the spirit of independence that he’s come to embody.
That, and the underbelly of violence hitched to his wagon trails.
The gambling and the drinking and the womanizing,
and all that dagnabit cold-blooded murdering
that took place in the dirt and the dust
of the fledgling townships still sticky
from the beestings milk of their founding.
So embrace the romantic appeal while you can Zack tells me.
But don’t forget that even Duke John Wayne
sometimes died at the end of the final reel.
Zackary Wirth stands upon his quarterdeck, and watches
the clouds pick-up pace as the day ages into late afternoon.
He stands and watches the sun curdle into the far horizon over yonder.
And he breathes deep of the sagebrush and the fragrant pine aspen.
There are more cattle in The State of Montana than there are people.
And approximately 12,000 miles of asphalt; much of which follows
routes originally blazed by the annual migration of the hairy buffalow.
Montana is where people come to when they don’t wish to be found.
For there’s a awful lot of land to lose yourself in.
Just ask the notorious Hole In The Wall gang.
Land. Lots of land. Under Big Sky high above.
Roll on, thou wide and sun-bleached ocean. Roll on!
And as the old-timers used to say, if you’re going
to eat watermelon, you’d best go eat some watermelon.

Evelyn Cameron: Photographing Montana



Meet Me At The Fraternal Order Of Eagles

I’m sat on a stool in my favourite writer’s
favourite drinking den in downtown Bozeman.
And I’m wearing brand new cowboy boots.
I’m wearing brand new cowboy boots and I’m drinking
Jack Daniels in lieu of any George Dickel. Straight-up without rocks.
This old-fashioned gin mill hasn’t changed its spots in decades.
The Friday night atmosphere is best described as fruit-fly infested.
The Friday night decor the Pantone spot colour of infected lung.
There’s a pockmarked pool table,
a vintage Ms. Pac Man arcade game,
some newer electronic slot machines and college
football playing silently on the TV’s. Go Bobcats!
Life’s little journey from darkness to darkness
offers-up a number of milestones along the way.
Today is such a day. A day on which to sip sourmash slowly.
The cowboy boots on my feet are a birthday present to myself.
Fresh out of the box and made from premium full-grain leather.
Bought this very morning from a man named Beau.
A little tight around the toes maybe. But that’ll change given time.
They just need a little breaking in is all. Just like we all do.
“Cuss if you must”, reads the bar’s motto;
“But do it with class. Because the one you’re
drinking might just wind-up being your last”.
I’ll raise a silent toast to that. And I’ll wear
my brand new cowboy boots whilst doing it.
A silent toast to 40 years aboard Spaceship Earth.
A silent toast to the family tree of procreation that preceded me.
A silent toast to the spider’s web of time and circumstance
that has brought me to this here drinking stool upon this
here September evening amongst these here Bozemanites.
A silent toast to those preparing to do-si-do another Friday night away.
A silent toast even to the Fair Maid who’s going to marry me one day.
Wherever She may be. And to whomsoever She may currently be with.


Brautigan Fishing In The Last Best Place

The poet and writer Richard Brautigan
first came to Paradise Valley in the year 1973.
He came here to eat hotcakes, and dream
his dreams about Japanese women’s feet,
and ended-up buying himself a 40-acre rancho
close to where Hemingway once liked to fish.
The rancho consisted of a large 2-story house,
a log-cabin built shortly after the Civil War
and a big ole red barn where Brautigan
kept his smith-corona typewriter.
There was an empty chicken coop, and lots of thistles.
Not to mention several abandoned automobiles,
which often served him as makeshift day-beds.
Brautigan lost himself a lot of friends whilst in Paradise Valley.
For those were the years which he spent hanging-out with the movie-stars.
The years in which he began to drink a little too much a little too often.
But his was not a rapid freefall into bitter alcoholism and abject paranoia.
And this is not the home in which he eventually killed himself.
Brautigan lived a looney-tune life of
self-imposed semi-isolation out on the ranch.
When he was depressed, he liked to
read a biography of William Faulkner.
When he got bored, he liked to sit at the
kitchen table with his point-22 calibre rifle,
and shoot-up telephones, televisions, bath-tubs,
pinball-machines, kitchen clocks and any
other inanimate objects that he could find.
The poet Aeschylus died when an eagle accidentally
dropped a tortoise upon his head. Brautigan was not so lucky.
He had to take matters into his own hands. Much like Sylvia Plath.
Though his choice of weapon was Smith & Wesson handgun
borrowed from a Chinaman, rather than a kitchen oven.
On the day Brautigan left Paradise Valley for the last time,
he presented his good friend, the author Thomas McGuane
with a glazed clay Japanese funeral urn wrapped in a blanket.
He told McGuane that he’d send instructions
about exactly when the item would be needed.
If The Big Goof had lived, he would’ve been 75 years old this year.
As it was, his long-legged corpse was discovered
in California on the evening of October the 26th, 1984.
It is speculated that his body may have lain undiscovered for as long as 6 weeks.
Legend has it, that the note
he left behind contained the following
three handwritten words; “Messy, isn't it".

Brautigan reads 'All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace'



Here Fell The Son Of The Morningstar

The Big Sky wears itself a scowl
as I head out East on Interstate 90.
The Thunderbird is shape-shifting. Stirring from its sleep.
Across the Yellowstone River, keeping the rail-tracks on my right.
Past the oil refinery. And the posters advertising the annual re-enactment.
Come on. Many Indians. Heap Big Village. Overwhelming odds. Be quick.
The last Paleface to see that
crazy cocksure Cavalier alive
on that hot summer’s afternoon in June 1876,
was 7th cavalry bugler Giovanni Martini;
who was handed a note, scrawled hastily
upon a sheet of paper torn from a dispatch-book.
The note requested reinforcements and ammunition packs.
But when those reinforcements eventually arrived,
a full 2 days later, the only living thing
that could be found upon the greasy grass
was a wounded horse by the name of Comanche.
And Comanche’s silence spoke more eloquently than any words.
Comanche toured the country
until his eventual death in the year 1891.
After which he was stuffed-and-mounted
with full U.S. military honours, and placed
within a dehumidifying glass cabinet, which was housed
in the natural history museum at the University of Kansas.
Whichever way you do the math, it's safe to say
that The Boy General has been a long time waiting
for those ammunition packs of his to arrive.

Friends Of The Little Bighorn Battlefield