By Lowell Jaeger

We’d seen Tonto on TV

dismount, kneel,

press an ear to the prairie

and advise The Lone Ranger

how many buffalo, how far.


A good trick

every cub scout should know,

though the only stampedes in our neighborhood

were occasional locomotives

charging across town.


And we’d been warned about trains.

Kids caught on the trestles,

stepping tie-by-tie

when the big black beast

rounded the bend and trampled them.


We stooped to lay our ears

on cold rails, listening

for the clack-clack-clack

of unseen iron horses,

gondolas of pulp logs

from mills nearby.


And stood, squinting into the distance

like Tonto,

claiming for certain

an angry herd of boxcars

were headed our way.


As founding editor of Many Voices Press, Lowell Jaeger compiled Poems Across the Big Sky, an anthology of Montana poets, and  New Poets of the American West, an anthology of poets from 11 Western states. His third collection of poems, Suddenly Out of a Long Sleep (Arctos Press) was published in 2009 and was a finalist for the Paterson Award.  His fourth collection, WE (Main Street Rag Press) was published in 2010.  He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council and winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize. Most recently Jaeger was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting thoughtful civic discourse.

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