Friday, May 8, 2020


I heard Gary Snyder read some poems in the summer of 1966 and it impacted my own poetry from that day forward (as reading Frank O'Hara's LUNCH POEMS had done two years before). A few years later I hand set the type for the first handmade edition of Gary's REGARDING WAVE and came to know him. He suggested I move with my pregnant first wife and daughter to the Sierra Nevadas and build a house on land he was building his house on, but I explained I was more of a city person (and poet, a la O'Hara). Here's the poem that influenced me so much initially:

Hay for The Horses by Gary Snyder

He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay
        behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the
        sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,
---The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds---
“I’m sixty-eight” he said,
“I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that’s just what
I’ve gone and done.”

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