prairie hot tub

We make do
Out in huge open landscapes
Where ‘no’ is the reigning word
No yard pools
Nor hot tubs
Are available at local retail outlets.

I swim In my backyard
In a horse watering tank to cool
Not real cool.
practice of swimming in the algae linings
likely since
Its invention, no doubt.
Sold at the Farm and Feed Stores
The side of the scalding metal
So hot as to fry skin
But the water never actually
Nor clear
Nor clean.
years ago, my head muses,
my nieces and nephews driven in from Denver
To play like spinning washing machine agitators
In the novelty of the icy tub
And blistering Colorado sun.

I make do.
For casserole recipes calling for
Turmeric, saffron, or epazote
I stumble to the alley
And pull leaves off stinging nettle, lemon grass, sage.

We make do.
We fix our tail gates with twine
And make lawn mower parts
out of old hay bale wire.

We bury our old sleeping dogs
Near the chokecherries and currants
So we can see them come alive in spring
Again and again.

We make do
No concerts come here
No amusement parks
No sea worlds
But still have roller coasters
They just aren’t visible.
We ride them every day
Emotions up. Emotions down.
as we watch the slow, muddy Platte
Churn carp into monster fish.

We sit dumb while stock cars
Circle round and round and round
A track, something like Nascar
But louder and more hickish
Sorta like a tractor pull.
We stare because they remind us of our

We err easily and often
in the eyes of those within
towns so small
the names sound ridiculous:
Punkin Center, Last Chance, Nunn.

Our neighbors seethe at us
As we avert and avoid at the grocery
We learn to scan for dreaded cars
In crowded lots.

When our hearts break
We make do
We scratch and claw out poetry
And prose. in
Hibernation akin to Emily Dickinson
While old sol bastes us.
We skip the medicines and the group therapy.
We scream in open fields
cry in les jardins
on moonlit nights.
let nettle sting along bare arms.
an ache burning like cat scratch fever.

Because the internet goes
down with the sun
We lay under starlight
By makeshift hibachi fires
Sing old songs from youth
Play quiet guitars made in the 1950’s
Beat the drums from coffee cans
And old round oatmeal boxes
We sync with crickets and cicada

Far in the distance
We hear serene horses come to drink
Swishing their tails
Cymbal brushes against water barrels of steel
Striking the beat with hooves
Splashing in the giant round metal tanks.
We make do.


  1. I have walked that walk, felt that bailing twine in my hand, held those brambles while searching for chokecherries, and cradled a tiny calf in my hands. No matter how difficult the small town, it reeked with homelife, it called us to help each other, and it was a time when a school basketball game was the way to keep in touch with neighbors. Those were the days. Now it is so different. I wonder what happened, but I know and so do you.

  2. from lkj
    wow…I can feel it, smell it, see it and breathe it!!! Funny thing about kids swimming in stock tanks…after we did it Dad would know because the cows wouldn’t have anything to do with drinking out of it until we cleaned it again. Cows thought us kids were stinking up their water!!!! Who would have thought…

  3. So perfectly written, takes me back to home in the 50’s. The only thing we couldn’t “make do” for was lack of trees. Your work is a treasure.

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