Poetry Gatherings–Karen (Paintbrush) Martin

I do not know if the desert people are still holding Poetry Gatherings once a month at this time, but thought you all might want to know our “history” of the gatherings, from fall 1994 through several years of sharing in those gatherings.

We first heard about the Poetry “Readings” in late November 1994…our CB radio was on, Bob Dossett, AKA Slobberjaws, made the announcement that there would be a poetry reading at his place on East Skunk Hollow the following week on the topic of “The Dump Station Blues”….Well we happened to be on the way to dump our tanks, bouncing along the unpaved main road from the middle mesa in NW Territory.  So I whipped out my pencil, and got to work.  Wrote a pretty good poem in the time it took to do our business at the dump station, and that was pretty much the beginning of our years of involvement with the Poetry Gatherings.

Over the years we met some really good poets from the desert, and the subjects could be anything from “Why We First Came to the Desert”, to writing about RVL’s and 9 Patch’s scruffy little VW bug they called Chester.  We did our best and shared out copies of our poetry.

After Slobberjaws decided he did not want to ramrod the meetings anymore, we shared times being hosts to the “public”.  I remember Twilight and Red Speck even introduced cookies and coffee at the meetings. (Slobberjaws had shared his Sassafrass Tea.)  I believe we were to be the next hosts and at that time we were living on North Florida Flats.  We took it over for a couple of years at least, then it was passed on to others.  I do know that Bullshipper began coming, so we heard a lot about John  Deere tractors! And cows.

I wrote a lot of poetry back in those days…myfirst main one was “This Old Hat”, and that became a favorite of Bob Dossett…my old cowboy hat had traveled a few miles with us, and I even gave a “Poetry Reading” at an Escapee gathering up in Great Falls Montana…at least I was not yanked off the stage (it was a Gong Show)!

Hope this article will be of some interest to the newcomers as well as the old timers, of which we seem to be a member now.  This season marks the 24th on the desert.

This Old Hat (January 29, 1998)

This old hat has travelled far,
And seen a lot at times.
It’s been in sun and wind and rain
And collected a lot of grime.

It’s a “miller Stockman” special
Bought back in ’55;
My daddy said I’d need it
While I had a horse to ride.

So we saw the years go flying by
And life began to change.
Marriage brought the Navy life
No more “riding on the range”.

This poor old hat stayed back at home
Sitting on a shelf.
‘Til the children were grown and gone
And I had more time to myself.

We took a trip in ‘92
Out Colorado way.
Working on a ranch there,
Punching cattle for no pay.

More adventures came our way
As we explored the Oregon trails
Hiking along the Imnaha
Amidst the rocks of shale.

I packed a pistol on my hip
Ever watchful for the bear.
And, yes, We caught a glimpse of one
A sight that is so rare.

One day we saw the strangest sight
One we’ll not forget.
A pack string of woolly llamas
When they rested they would set.

We came to the desert southland
In the fall of ’94.
This old hat protected me
As we found new places to explore.

We saw the old Stone Cabin
On a cold and windy day.
Hiked the winding trails
Through the washes along the way.

I recall the first CB break
With my hat upon my head…
And a lady spoke (twas Latigo)
“Sure like your hat”, she said.

Latigo has always known me
By the hat I always carry
When shopping at the yard sales
(She is always so merry).

Yes we have made many friends
As the years have gone on by
And this hat has become familiar
In both wet days, and dry.

It’s a little tired and worn now
And I handle it with care.
It wears a painter’s palette
For the “CB” handle that I bear.

So when you are out walking,
Or riding, to go have some fun…
Just wave a hand to Paintbrush…
In her hat, that shades the sun.

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