Wednesday, July 1, 2009

To die in Milltown ...

In any list of great Montana poets, Richard Hugo would be at or near the very top. Hugo was a long time faculty member at the University of Montana, a school known for its fine creative writing program, and his poems are often wonderfully-somber elegies for western Montana and its people.

Today's quote is the last stanza from a poem by Hugo called "To Die in Milltown," published in a 1973 collection called, The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir:
To die in Milltown, die at 6 P.M.
The fast train west rattles your bourbon warm.
The latest joke is on the early drunk:
sing one more chorus and the nun you love
will dance here out of habit. To live
stay put. The Blackfoot, any river
has a million years to lend, and weather's
always wild to look at down the Hellgate --
solid grey forever trailing off white rain.
Our drinks are full of sun. These aging eagles
climb the river on their own.


  1. I'd like to have met him...over a beer in any old saloon. I still have my copy of "Triggering Town", used in my first Creative Writing course.
    He was a darlin' man.

    Here's another link I found today...might be of interest

  2. Yeah, I would have loved to have met him, too ... and under exactly those circumstances. Montana has lots of literary idols like that, more than almost any other state, I think.

    I think of K. Ross Toole in that vein, as well. I got to take one of his very last Montana history classes, back in 1980, and it totally transformed my passion for Montana.

    And thanks for the link! It would be fun to figure out how to link all these blogs together somehow, so we all get to know each other ...

  3. Remind me to take you out to Harold's Club sometime ;)

  4. Oh, absolutely!! I've never been in there, but I've seen the sign for that place ... and it calls to me. :)