Jim Richards, 1/6/2014

Current Occupation: I teach literature & creative writing and sell ugly Christmas sweaters on eBay.
Former Occupation: Paper boy, dish washer, prep cook, swamper, busser, waiter, Spanish teacher.
Contact Information: I received PhD in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, and have since taught at BYU-Idaho. My poems have appeared recently in Prairie Schooner, Comstock Review, Poet Lore, Texas Review, The Fertile Source, and Contemporary American Voices. My work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and I received an Idaho Writer’s Fellowship. I live in the upper Snake River Valley with my wife and five sons.




Miles outside of town,   

in early spring,

the pasture’s suffocation ends.

The grass,

released from winter’s weight,

begins to breathe again.

It’s time to resurrect hard gloves,

cold hammers, tacks,

and mend the  snapped barbwire

and gray posts

pushed over by moose or frosted bison

with an itch.

Woodsmoke on April’s air is the pepper

of my job.

I make chinches and loops, crank the jack

until the barbwire sings,

hoping it won’t snap and split my cheek.

There on the hill

I find a man-made gap, the wire cut clean,

pinched into flat tips by a tool,

where a snow machine must’ve had to get through.

Right then, he comes

huffing up the hill—my neighbor. I stand and stare

holding the work of clipped wires

in my gloves. Can I help? he says, as if he’s just read

“Mending Wall.” Sure, I say, and add,

Someone clipped it to get through.

The wind is in our ears.

The cut wires hiss. Words are worthless in this weather.

He bends his brim.

I tug my glove. We pick up the jack.


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