If I, the Poet

 If I, the poet, could lend to you the simple words I know
That would take you to the high ridge, would you go?

If you could hear the winds a’ rush and breathe the piney air
Could you close your eyes and travel with me there?

If my humble pen could lay the words across the barren page
Could you go with me and ride the desert sands and sage?

Would you lope across the prairie? Would you ride the river break?
Would you go if I, the poet, wrote until my fingers ache?

Oh, If I, the poet, wrote the words that brought a silent nod of knowing
Or a smile at a memory or shameless tears a’ flowing …

Or, could you hear the merriment of leather squeaks and bridle chain!
My search for telling words to share would not be done in vain.

Whether lasting ’til eternity or fleeting as a shooting star
I, the poet, give to you my words, ordinary as they are.

© Janice Gilbertson,  November 2007


My List …

If the cattle trails grew over
Were there no call for the drover
If the windmills no longer caught the breeze

If the meadow grass grew bitter
If the hay fields wilt or wither
Or springtime never thawed of winter’s freeze

If crystal rivers all ran dry
Or if the eagles failed to fly
I think my heart would ache to hard to beat

Oh … Lord! If horses could not run
Nor Poppies open to the sun
The worth of day would weigh so bittersweet

If campfire ashes all grew cold
Were there no more tales to be told
There wouldn’t be much purpose for the night

No white faced calves, no tadpole creeks
No tall pines where the north wind speaks
Why should I care to rise at morning’s light?

Beneath my grasp of countless pens
Flows this list that never ends
Of all the things so vital to my being

No, not the grasp of gilded shine
And nothing which is only mine
But all everything for feeling, hearing, seeing …

© Janice Gilbertson,  June 2009

Sometimes, in the Lucias

Sometimes—on a ridge in the hard, hot air, where deer hooves clatter on the chalk
Horned toads hide in plain view and jackrabbit trembles in the shadow of hawk

Sometimes—I hear sounds, a bee buzzing on the sweet sage, the singing gnat at my ear
The music of shifting, falling shale beneath the pads of something wild, come near

From the time I was just a small child, I rode long days out on my own
I wonder, now, at my comfort. Perhaps I was never really alone.

Sometimes—it is their voices I hear, not words, but the sounds of words
That rise from canyon shadow or fly through the air with swifting birds

I can hear the thrum of man-talk and the melody of women’s voices high
Children’s giggles with the singing gnat, and infants fuss with spotted fawns’ cry

If I leave the ridge and ride the trail to where a spring flows sweet and free
Sometimes—when my lips touch the pool, the reflection there is not of me

The mountains of Santa Lucia harbor spirits of those who came long before
And, sometimes, now, I follow the trails of Padres, Salinans and Conquistadore

How I long to sit with them beside a shady, singing willow creek
Or ride beside a spirit horse up-trail to a glorious coastal peak!

They beckon me to painted caves. They bid me welcome to adobe walls
And though we share no common blood there is a sort of kin who calls…

Sometimes—I lay in silent dark and ask, if ever I should ride away
Though I may go with heart and soul, will my spirit choose to stay?

© Janice Gilbertson, June 2007

This poem, from Janice Gilbertson’s book, Sometimes in the Lucias,
was a 2009 Western Writer’s of America Spur Award finalist.