Saddle Tramp, by Leland James
—like his saddle, spurs, and hat
The horn, by years of lariat notched deep,
holding a lassoed calf in summersault,
the cantle low to speed the sideways leap,
cinch wet with sweat, horse sliding to a halt
—no conchos on this cowboy’s working saddle,
host to stray calves, bedrolls, and dry canteens,
borne aside lame mounts far from a stable,
baptized in thunderstorms, immersed in streams;
his hat a wrinkled map, sun, snow, and rain
—Montana, Arizona, south to Mexico,
mountains, great seas of grass, an open range—
his hat a brand: the “saddle tramp,” “cowpoke”;
spurs: to guide not goad, to say hello,
—a pair of melancholy timbrels.
Leland James is the author of seven books of poetry and a book on poetry craft. He has published over 200 poems worldwide, including The Lyric,Aesthetica, Rattle, The South Carolina Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New Millennium Writings, HQ The Haiku Quarterly, and London Magazine. He was the winner of an Atlanta Review International Publication Prize and the UK’s Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, and has won or received honors in many other competitions. in the USA, Canada, and Europe. Leland has been featured in Ted Koozer’s American Life in Poetry and was recently nominated for a Push Cart Prize. www.lelandjamespoet.com
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