There are minor poets and then there are minor poets--Richard Hugo is one of those who deserve a larger audience. His snapshots of the bleak and shabby death-trip of The Great Plains are shockingly recognizable. His tone is matter-of-fact and melancholic confessional at once. For his ignorant farmers, for the members of the Ladies' Auxiliary, for the 4-H girls, for the speaker himself--these sad, sad poems stir up compassion for the ""shame"" of wasted lives. ""Cruelty and rain can be expected"" in this comer of the world. Surveying the salt-colored landscape dotted with horses and barns, this dispossessed son feels ""I own this and I know it is not mine."" It's that succinctness--the poet's ambition to be pure in his despair--that make these accounts of self-hatred and mocking insult unceasingly effective as a twist of the knife in our wounds.