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lowell jeager

at the county fair

Smiles.  High-fives.  Backslaps and hugs.

Neighborly chat about last night’s needed rain,

this morning’s cloudless horizons and soothing breeze.

In the arena, clear-eyed 4H-ers parade

project goats and bottle lambs.

                                                        As the judges

award ribbons and trophies, we cheer

for the simple luxury of it all, our snug

community, green lawns, double-car

garages, our good jobs, good pay.  We sing

the anthem, honor the flag, join the church choir.


Sure, we can’t survive completely comfortable as might

at first seem.  Forgive us if we put away

— mercifully so — extraordinary pains of our

ordinary lives.  Forgive us, if we fend off

news of wars and famine as if to wave back

swarms of bothersome gnats.

                                                      Let us forgive ourselves

when a late night wind wakes us trembling in darkness,

wafts the curtains aside, and enters unwanted.


For now, let’s take a fistful of dollars

— all of us — and mill about on the midway.

Let’s thrill ourselves on the Scrambler, tossed headlong

like astronauts hurling toward the moon.  Let’s

spin upside-down in the Iron Tornado.  And scream.

Lowell Jaeger (Montana Poet Laureate 2017-2019) is founding editor of Many Voices Press, author of eight collections of poems, recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council, and winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize. Most recently Jaeger was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting thoughtful civic discourse. 

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