Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spoiled rotten ...

I know I've said this before ... but Montana really has an amazing number of fine musicians, artists, authors, and poets. The number is far greater, it seems, than one should expect from a state so thinly populated and where earning a living is so difficult. And my appreciation for the state's creative talents continues to grow, as I discover more and more new voices.

Today's poem is is by one of those newly-discovered voices, a man named Mark Gibbons. He grew up in Alberton and Deer Lodge and now lives in Missoula, where he writes poetry and reportedly works as a furniture mover to pay the bills. This is a poem called "Spoiled Rotten," first published in a 1995 collection called Something Inside Us:
I was a rich kid in Alberton, pampered inside
an old two-shack, ship-lapped, slapped-together house
right beside the Milwaukee Railroad. Creosote ties
footed faded linoleum floors—they supported us like trains
to the splintered end. Barren beaver board walls

Bled frost and our dreams. . . .

. . . we were spoiled most long summer days
tormenting rattlers and climbing castle rocks, skinny
dipping and fishing up Petty Creek from the narrows

To the old goat farm. We swam the Clark Fork like beaver,
circled and slapped, threw hoots and full cannon balls.
We gorged ourselves daily like Romans or kings
eating filthy-rich feasts, everything in season: green apples,
ripe plums, wild onions, and garden-raided dirt-sweet carrots.

We discovered the neighbor’s basement, ate jars
of silver salmon and gagged smelling limburger cheese.
We sipped on sour dandelion wine, felt our way up the dizzy stairs.
Through a door left ajar, fully framed in a mirror, we saw nipples
round as our mouths—secrets—only told to our dogs.

We lazed under lilacs, read clouds going by, never denied
we were flat spoiled rotten and ruined for good like Huck Finn,
our hero back then. We, too, would have settled for a raft and Jim,
but we damn sure didn’t want to run away. Those days are still
a toy chest so filled—that the lid can never be closed.


  1. Love the poem.Ah,the joys of youth.

  2. Indeed. Who wouldn't miss those days?

  3. The happiest memories of childhood, so evocative of really brutal hard times...a toybox indeed. The only thing missing is the candy thrown from slow moving trains.

  4. When you're a kid, different things take priority ... money seems less important.

    (Or at least that's how it used to be; maybe things are different in the 21st-century world of high-tech toys ...)

  5. When I was a kid we weren't exposed to what was going on in the grown-up world...our responsibility ended when the chores and homework were done..."go out and play" and "seen, not heard" was pretty much law. Not many of us knew the family didn't have 2 nickles to rub together, Aunt Nell was a klepto and cousin Hambone knew his chickens carnally. Gawd, it was heaven.