Frequently Utah poet Marleen Bussma will catch me off guard. Just when I’m expecting a “regular” sort of cowboy poetry rhyme or image, she’ll do something like she does in “The Broken Spur Café” (“…Zeke fills his mouth with salty cuss words plentiful and cheap…tho’ dunked young as a Baptist water hadn’t sunk too deep!”) or, describing the retired cowhands, “…they look around and see the morning café crowd has thinned…and rise up slowly just like smoke that’s not sure of the wind!”
In her book “Is She Country?” Bussma often works with historical figures and visions from past and present. The majority of the collection is done in sort of a “Casey At The Bat” rhythm. But one work (“Slow Burn”) is notable due to an intentional break in the pattern as a set-upon ranch wife contradicts in rebellious prose her husband’s rhythmic, rhymed edicts. In “White Out” a stagecoach emerges from a blizzard with its driver frozen in place. Another stagecoach verse “Old Joe” comes with an O. Henry-worthy twist. Recommended.
Trade Paperback: $13 ppd from Marleen Bussma, 1094 Homestead Dr. E., Dammeron Valley, UT 84783
- by Rick Huff