poem 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 beast rounded the bend
and trampled them.

We stooped to lay our ears
on cold rails, listening
for the clack-clack-clack
of unseen horses,
gondolas of pulp logs
from nearby mills—

stood squinting into the distance
like Tonto,
claiming for sure
an angry herd of boxcars
were headed our way.



Lowell Jaeger