Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Red Shuttleworth: Autumn Chronograph: 15

NHM Book: The Masters of Nature Photography : JIM BRANDENBURG HORSE SPIRIT

Horse spirit (Oostvaardersplassen Preserve, the Netherlands): photo by Jim Brandenburg, from Masters of Nature Photography, Natural History Museum, 2010 (via The Guardian 5 September 2013) 

The heart knots-up, locked into the bittersweet
melancholy of a ghost town rodeo arena...
a splinter-crumble pine barn behind the chutes.
Unreal grey ponies, ancient coiled reatas:
1964's rodeo queen rips sour lottery tickets.

Red Shuttleworth: Autumn Chronograph: 15 (24 September 2012), from Autumn Chronograph, Bunchgrass Press, 2013

Reata 13. Ryan, Texas
: photo by Tom Steele, 17 September 2011

Lariat: photo by Achilyse, 21 August 2010

A safe place for rodeo tickets. Standing in line for the Shaniko BBQ. The little ghost town of Shaniko, Oregon: photo by uncommonmuse, 1 August 2008

Dale Evans, Queen of the West, 1944: image by Joseph Black (Greenman 2008), 28 May 2010

Out West: photo by Jinx McCombs, 23 June 2008


TC said...

Roy Rogers & Dale Evans: Happy Trails

Dale Evans: Beyond the Happy Trails

Dale Evans biography

Dale Evans Rogers: Angel Unaware

ACravan said...

A long time ago, when I was first being taught about poetry in grade school, I’m certain that a teacher said that poetry’s special quality was its ability to say so much in a small amount of compressed, highly meaningful language. (Or something along those lines; when I was first confronted with very long poems, probably at an inconvenient meeting time, I kind of wondered about that, I’m sure.) Anyway, this Autumn Chronograph (and Red’s other poems and the images you’ve associated with them) brings back that first lesson like seeing and feeling a circle (or a lariat or a wrist chronograph). Dale and Roy are such a big subject that this is going to resonate and distract me all day long when I have some very boring professional material that I should be tackling. A very high point of my youth was seeing a live Roy Rogers Rodeo show (all the cast members and lots of roping, riding and Nellybelle, the jeep) at the old Madison Square Garden (the second Garden, I believe) in the company of two cousins I liked before my family completely fell apart. In those days (I was about 7, I think), I affected a western drawl most of the time in homage to Roy. That glamour shot of Dale is stunning.

TC said...

Curtis, spot on about the no-syllable-gone-to-waste quality in Red's work. Chiseled.

And lovely buried reminiscence, about that Hudson River cowboy Western drawl.

Yes, Dale Evans seems so much the practical woman, in the complicated life she evidently did have, as we come to learn of it, that the glamour shot seems more than a little bit odd. And that was way back when the bogus wonders of Photoshop were not yet so much as a spot on the false gleam in the devil's eye. But of course they did have airbrush. And the influence of George Petty probably ought also to be counted in, like those phantom ponies in Red's ghost town corral.

The yellow rose however is easy enough to explain, Dale having been a Texas gal.

I worked a few Chicago Stadium rodeos back in my crowd control days. Later on, when we were living up near the Divide in Nederland, Colorado, there was some serious rodeo going on.

A search of the moldering photostats retrieved from the sunken cargo hold has now revealed certain believe-it-or-not evidences of attempted rodeo poesy. Viz:

Rodeo Day

"No one nor anything (including the 18th Amendment) has succeeded in excluding King Alcohol from Nederland." -- The Nederland Roundup Souvenir Program

On the morning of rodeo day,
Blowing their trumpets,
The townsmen
Fall off their horses.


At the Rodeo

When a joke is made at the expense of the seemingly endless
Junior Pole Bending Competition,
Peter Michelson laughs out loud
And nine cowboy hats swivel around toward us
On necks that might contain
Perfect ball-bearings from Western Tools.

Unknown said...

O Man

Those Manes!

TC said...

"When the herd of wild horses raced past Jim Brandenburg with great exuberance, he wasn't quite ready. He had gone to this unique wildlife refuge north of Amsterdam to test new camera equipment. The refuge is a rewilding experiment to replicate Europe's prehistoric past, and these Polish Konik horses are the closest to the Tarpans that once roamed Europe. Brandenburg says he was lucky to get the snap which reminds him of the paintings of horses in the caves of southern France. 'I was simply doing what my ancestors did with their cave paintings 30,000 years ago, trying to capture the magic of animals – nearly the same animals. Little has changed in this quest, though I don't think we've yet matched that cave art.'"

TC said...

Horses, from Lascaux II

ACravan said...

Rodeo Day and At The Rodeo are REALLY GOOD. Curtis

Wooden Boy said...

If a child asked me what a poem was, I'd show them this.

Very beautiful and honest. There's a dry elegance to it.

The Rogers and Evans story is very moving. The moral courage to make the choice they did at that time can't be overestimated. I work with people who've come out of those institutions scarred.

Wooden Boy said...

There's yet to be paintings of horses as fine as those you find at Lascaux.

Poet Red Shuttleworth said...


Many, many high desert, shrub steppe thanks!!!


Unknown said...

The artist can only be as close to ready as s/he can be, which much of the time is not very (so many distractions). Jim Brandeburg was thinking he was not “quite ready” there with the new equipment but he was there and the horses were there and there it is. What a remarkable experience he gave us with this image – the experience of the essence of the Horse, the thousands of years, the eye, the view of the ancestors. It blew me away. What a great project that refuge (does it have a name?) is. There are some positive things happening on our planet I’m glad I get the info from this blog. Thanks Jim. Thanks Red. Thanks Tom.

Harris Schiff

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Whoop-de-doo, buckaroos--
What a ride, yahoo!

TC said...

About those ponies... the "rewilding" experiment at Oostvardersplassen -- placing proxy "prehistoric" animals in a modern landscape, fencing them in, and letting many of them slowly starve to death, while others are "humanely" shot -- is an interesting manifestation of the concept of "New Nature" or "New Wilderness".

True Nature? The Oostvardersplassen

Barbara C said...

Beautiful, masterful poem, Red. I always look forward to the twist at the end of your poems that frames the subject in yet another light.

TC said...

"...the twist at the end of your poems that frames the subject in yet another light."

Barbara's comment goes straight to the heart of Red's essential poetic economy.