PULPIT OF BONES by Stephen Pett


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Pett's poems are small self-contained landscapes of the old West, mostly in the 19th century when trappers, miners and Indian scouts had the place to themselves. Except for the animals who are omnipresent: ""Mountain sheep/ now like cloud in dreams/ Peeling buckskin off the slopes,/ Soon stained with beaver blood,/ Spotted like puma cubs."" Lizards, coyotes, deer, mules, rabbits, muskrats, cougars, bats, caterpillars, rattlesnakes, oxen, insects, owls. . . it's mostly critters that populate PeWs poems and they're just not that involving. The poems are curiously static despite the wildlife--maybe because sudden death lurks so predictably around every boulder, beside every dried-up water hole where the ""bones of prospectors"" lie bleached in the sun. Kit Carson and Lewis and Clark make an appearance along with Indian squaws and some doughty old-timers who sit in the old rocking chair remembering times ""Before the gully was a road."" Only Roy Rogers is missing riding the parched prairie into the sunset.

Pub Date: June 3rd, 1975
Publisher: Morrow