Jim Reese


Late afternoon, I see your mother-in-law
come from town, stop at your mailbox,
throw the envelopes onto your entryway floor.
I hear her cussing the Holsteins,
about hollow udders and loose tits.
Maybe they'll hear her, move the right direction,
and give up more milk than ever before.
I volunteer to feed the bucket calves, because
the old man has gone off to sleep
in the air-conditioned shed or maybe tinker again
with the pivots motor.  The third bucket
I offer up is kicked into shit and piss.
I head to the kitchen fridge for pickles.
I pack a cooler full of ice-cold beer -- Happy Hour.
Head out to find the nearest pick-up to hammer
to the next section.  I feed the Angus there--steal
a bucket full of fresh asparagus
from the renter's half-acre spread. 
I know it may be wrong,
but they could get off their ass once a day
and feed these ten head for as little as they pay.
Every time I head back, I know
the renters won't have done a goddamned thing.
This time I decide to bargain
with the old lady, for squatting rights.
Figure on my chances --
if I help her finish milking, and promise
every other Saturday and Sunday
to hook up the suckers myself.
She tells me she doesn't think she'd have the nerve
to kick them out.  Says,
besides, they pay on time.
I grab the cooler, hop in with Brian -- out
to fill more troughs. 
I pick out a spot on the old oak,
to differentiate the blue-black-white
as they trot up the hill to feed. 
Today I'm one head off.
Instinct or experience,
we head to the south creek.
And there, like a gopher in soft dirt,
stuck knee-deep in quicksand,
is the last of this breed.  Tonight,
with circles of chain around her front and rear,
we will lift her with the loader bucket
and carry this heavy beast home.

Location: Lincoln Nebraska
Occupation: Writer, Photographer, Teacher, Ph.D. candidiate in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Email: loganhousepress@alltel.net
Publications: Nebraska Life, Nebraska Territory, Morpo Review, Touchstone, Plains Song Review, Platte Valley Review, Poetry Motel,, etc.
Books: As Worthless As Tits On A Boar (Cacthouse Publishing 1995), Wedding Cake and Funeral Ham (Grizzly Press 2002), The Jive (Morpo Press, 2003)
Editor at: Prairie Schooner
Other: Cofounder of and Imagining Editor for Logan House Press

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