By Kay Ryan
Nothing exists as a block
and cannot be parceled up.
So if nothing's ventured
it's not just talk;
it's the big wager.
Don't you wonder
how people think
the banks of space
and time don't matter?
How they'll drain
the big tanks down to
slime and salamanders
and want thanks?
Another by new poet laureate Ryan. In The Washington Post's "Verse of the Turtle", Bob Thompson quoted poet and critic Dana Gioia as saying he admired "'the unusual compression and density of Ryan's work.' Her poems and her individual lines both tend to be short, but they are packed with meaning...[she] 'has found a way of exploring ideas without losing either the musical impulse or imaginative intensity necessary to lyric poetry.'" Gioia calls Ryan 'one of the finest poets writing in America...[she] has 'the gift of being simultaneously very funny and very wise.'"
Most of Wednesday was a driving day through flat Eastern Colorado and nearly all of Nebraska -- not that I am complaining, given the weather reports I have heard both from home and from Texas -- hope everyone is safely out of the way of the storms. And gas prices are way down, at least out here! After leaving Colorado, we stopped for lunch at Fort Cody in North Platte, Nebraska, which has a Museum of the Old West and a massive miniature diorama of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, complete with music and action. The museum and store are a bizarre mix of every painful cowboy and Indian stereotype ever perpetrated in popular culture and lovely locally-made Sioux crafts -- think Wall Drug on a much smaller and somewhat less tacky scale.
The parade of horses featuring riders in different costumes moves in front of the display tents (think Viggo Mortensen in Hidalgo).
North Platte claims Buffalo Bill as a hometown hero even though he was born in the Iowa Territory because he organized his first Wild West show here.
The museum also features historic boots, chaps, saddles, guns, and spurs, plus farm equipment and cabins outside.
The trading post's exterior, with cowboys ostensibly fighting off Indians and a big bear, gives some hint of the tastefulness of the interior...
...where else can you find Elvis, Marilyn, and John Wayne in Nebraska Western t-shirts?
The museum is free, though, and outside it has the perfect place to send your kids when they get annoying, as well as some covered wagons, teepees, and a larger-than-life Indian chief statue.
And there's a stuffed, locally-born two-headed calf on display inside. How can anyone not want to look, even if it does make one wonder what they're putting in the feed in Nebraska?
We spent the rest of the day driving to Omaha, where we stopped at Next Millennium which was as enjoyable as I expected -- a massive Wiccan/New Age bookstore with statues, jewelry, hundreds of Tarot decks and lots of oils, potions and crystals. Because I was with my family I had to restrain myself and did not buy any goddesses or clothing but did buy a Wheel of the Year pendant at a substantial discount from web prices. We had a minor accomodation disaster -- apparently the Quality Inn in Council Bluffs thinks "non-smoking room" means "we'll spray some hairspray to try to cover the fact that there were lit cigarettes in this room a few hours ago" -- but we were able to switch to a nicer Travelodge that's actually in Omaha, where we will go to the zoo in the morning!