Hayden Carruth

H
Hayden Carruth
Emergency Haying
Coming home with the last load I ride standing
on the wagon tongue, behind the tractor
in hot exhaust, lank with sweat,

my arms strung
awkwardly along the hayrack, cruciform.
Almost 500 bales we’ve put up

this afternoon, Marshall and I.
And of course I think of another who hung
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Notes on Poverty
Was I so poor
in those damned days
that I went in the dark
in torn shoes
and furtiveness
to steal fat ears
of cattle corn
from the good cows
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Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey
Scrambled eggs and whiskey
in the false-dawn light. Chicago,
a sweet town, bleak, God knows,
but sweet. Sometimes. And
weren’t we fine tonight?
When Hank set up that limping
treble roll behind me
my horn just growled and I
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If It Were Not for You
Liebe, meine liebe, I had not hoped
to be so poor

The night winds reach
like the blind breath of the world
in a rhythm without mind, gusting and beating
as if to destroy us, battering our poverty
and all the land’s flat and cold and dark
under iron snow
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Abandoned Ranch, Big Bend
Three people come where no people belong any more.
They are a woman who would be young
And good-looking if these now seemed
Real qualities, a child with yellow hair, a man
Hardened in desperate humanity. But here are only
Dry cistern, adobe flaking, a lizard. And now this
Disagreeable feeling that they were summoned. Sun
On the corrugated roof is a horse treading,
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The Bearer
Like all his people he felt at home in the forest.
The silence beneath great trees, the dimness there,
The distant high rustling of foliage, the clumps
Of fern like little green fountains, patches of sunlight,
Patches of moss and lichen, the occasional
Undergrowth of hazel and holly, was he aware
Of all this? On the contrary his unawareness
Was a kind of gratification, a sense of comfort
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Bears at Raspberry Time
Fear. Three bears
are not fear, mother
and cubs come berrying
in our neighborhood

like any other family.
I want to see them, or any
distraction. Flashlight
poking across the brook
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The Curtain
Just over the horizon a great machine of death is roaring and rearing.
We can hear it always. Earthquake, starvation, the ever-renewing sump of corpse-flesh.
But in this valley the snow falls silently all day, and out our window
We see the curtain of it shifting and folding, hiding us away in our little house,
We see earth smoothened and beautified, made like a fantasy, the snow-clad trees
So graceful. In our new bed, which is big enough to seem like the north pasture almost
With our two cats, Cooker and Smudgins, lying undisturbed in the southeastern and southwestern corners,
We lie loving and warm, looking out from time to time. “Snowbound,” we say. We speak of the poet
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Eternity Blues
I just had the old Dodge in the shop
with that same damned front-end problem,
and I was out, so to speak, for a test run,

loafing along, maybe 35 m.p.h.,
down the old Corvallis road,
holding her out of the ruts and potholes.

That’s out in Montana, the Bitterroot Valley.
Long ways from home is how they say it.
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Graves
Both of us had been close
to Joel, and at Joel’s death
my friend had gone to the wake
and the memorial service
and more recently he had
visited Joel’s grave, there
at the back of the grassy
cemetery among the trees,
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I Know, I Remember, But How Can I Help You
The northern lights.I wouldn’t have noticed them
if the deer hadn’t told me
a doeher coat of pearlsher glowing hoofs
proud and inquisitive
eager for my appraisal
and I went out into the night with electrical steps
but with my head held also proud
to share the animal’s fear
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None
You died. And because you were Greek they gave you
a coin to carry under your tongue and then also
biscuits and honey. When you came to the riverbank
you saw a crazy-looking black bumboat on the water
with a figure standing in it, lanky and dressed
darkly, holding a sweep. You were taken across,
and you gave your coin for the passage, and continued
until you came to a three-headed dog, who snarled
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Song of the Two Crows
I sing of Morrisville
(if you call this cry
a song). I
(if you call this painful

voice by that great name)
sing the poverty of my
region and of
the wrong end of Morrisville.
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Sonnet #10
You rose from our embrace and the small light spread
like an aureole around you. The long parabola
of neck and shoulder, flank and thigh I saw
permute itself through unfolding and unlimited
minuteness in the movement of your tall tread,
the spine-root swaying, the Picasso-like éclat
of scissoring slender legs. I knew some law
of Being was at work. At one time I had said
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The Afterlife: Letter to Sam Hamill
You may think it strange, Sam, that I'm writing
a letter in these circumstances. I thought
it strange too—the first time. But there's
a misconception I was laboring under, and you
are too, viz. that the imagination in your
vicinity is free and powerful. After all,
you say, you've been creating yourself all
along imaginatively. You imagine yourself
playing golf or hiking in the Olympics or
writing a poem and then it becomes true.
But you still have to do it, you have to exert
yourself, will, courage, whatever you've got, you're
mired in the unimaginative. Here I imagine a letter
and it's written. Takes about two-fifths of a
second, your time. Hell, this is heaven, man.
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