SHELDON, WILLIAM Rain Comes Riding

RAIN COME RIDING: POEMS $12, ISBN 978-0-9837995-0-4 Perfect bound paper, 80 Sheldon.cvr.websizepp. 2011. Introduction by Denise Low. Art by Art Montgomery 

RAIN COMES RIDING details poet William Sheldon’s passion for the Great Plains. People loom against the horizon—his family, neighbors, runaways, working men, and also the people who lived in this place before, whose scattered flint tools remain still unchanged. He is a poet who embraces fully the contradictions of simulated realities existing, fragmented, in a timeless universe of flint and bluestem grass. Sheldon is a skilled, smart writer who has much to tell his readers about how to live with good conscience.  This second book of the poet shows him creating a new genre of ballad. William Sheldon lives in Hutchinson, Ks., where he teaches. His book Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley),was named a 2002 Kansas City Star’s Noteworthy Book. He has an MFA from Wichita St. Univ.

“Many poets of estimable value are called to mind by Bill Sheldon’s book: Kansas poets Sheldon.billsmallcertainly (William Stafford, Steven Hind, Harley Elliot, Denise Low), and other-state poets with a knowing eye for the land, from the severe poems of Robinson Jeffers, to the more clement naturalism of Mary Oliver, to the savvy, stringent explorations of Wendell Berry.  How can one read Sheldon’s “Red” and not think of the poems of Phil Levine, their similar understanding of manual labor and the lives invested in that work?  I could go on in this vein, but… Sheldon is finally a practitioner of his own voice and vision—albeit one that takes its place happily in a community of other poets—and Rain Comes Riding, steeped in history and family, in an intimacy of place and sometimes a wry sense of humor, is the rich record of a career in which the world and the word have been lovingly wedded.” Albert Goldbarth, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award

Idyll

The dog’s ashes work their way

deeper into the garden’s soil.

This season I walk alone,

The dirt road winding

Into darkening sky.

The horses no longer

come when called, and the wind

keens, “Winter is coming on.”

The rising moon rattles the dry grass,

and below, the dead

continue their long work.

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