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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.


Trigger Warning

Nothing like a sprawling spread
even if the vegetation is tough and dry
and the cattle don’t like it much.
And a ranch-house of course –
include the acreage surrounding it
and that adds up to a castle.
He sees himself as a baron
just like his father
and his grandfather did.

He has himself a herd of Hereford
and a wife but no children,
a scorching sun in summer
and bitter nights in winter,
and an eye for the clouds when they come
and a sailor’s line in cussing when they don’t.

He looks at a map sometime
with its scattered towns,
bone-dry rivers,
and figures he and his barony
ought to be on it.
After all, some of the places
are no more than ghost towns.
And he’s no ghost.

It’s all about land.
He’d mint coin from Death Valley
if he held the deeds to it.
He reckons patience, persistence,
are the currency of ranching.
When he’s not out riding fences,
he’s sitting on his porch
and telling himself that,
over and over and over.

The bank calls from time to time.
They’re always antsy over loan payments.
They think in terms of calendar dates.
His head is into generations.

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