David Romtvedt

How Many Horses

Publisher: Ion Books

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How Many Horses, David Ramotvedt's second collection of poetry, is a book of one story and many stories. It is about northern Wyoming from the east face of the Bighorn Mountains to the Powder River Breaks. It is about both being a part of and apart from a beautiful but fierce place. It is a story of the horses- Trouble, Penelope, Coy, Harold, The Bitch and Pony- and the other animals watching the domestic, the land itself. It is a story of weather, of emotions, of possibility. Most importantly, it is the narrator's love stories: his love for Margo, for the horses, for Belem, for the harsh earth, and for everything that touches us all.

Selections from How Many Horses

An old woman, blind in her left eye,
her right arm amputated at the elbow,
regular rides Saturday night to Porky's
in UCross. "I left my horse tied
to the unleaded pump." she tells Buzzy
and he, smiling, asks her to tie the horse
up at the rail next to the bar. "You know"
that horse gonna get hit by some drunk
in a pick-up and you always leave him
out by the pump." And somebody drinking
says, "Or some Jacob gonna steal him."
The Jacob's are honest but they come in
for this kind of noise as they've got
the only only other business in UCross -
a junkyard - and their trees are full of turkeys.
The woman waves Buzzy away and to me says,
"I been ranchin' near Clearmont all my life.
Stupid life. What d'ya think? Got at least
two thousand deer on my place but no heart
to kill 'em, so they eat my feed. When the Lord
made Wyoming, he stood up and shaded his eyes
to look out across all those ridges. Somethin'
was wrong - 'looks good, but whoo-ee, it smells
bad.' I love Wyoming - animals and birds
of every kind, big spaces and hardly enough people
for a respectable fistfight." Grinning
and focusing that one good eye on me,
she asked Buzzy for a Bud Light
and stepped outside to mover her horse.


"After reading How Many Horses, by David Romtvedt, I'd like to say that his writing gave me chills. His poems read like stories. He makes you see how much you've forgotten about life's real pleasures - like the earth underneath your feet, the in your eyes, and wide open spaces. He makes you see through the moon - and more. Makes you wish you could run free like a wild horse, understand what they obviously do and we don't: how to be content. And to tell the truth, I've always been afraid of horses, but not now." -Terry McMillan