Monday, February 7, 2022

John D. Nesbitt


Oh a cold wind blows tonight in wide Wyoming
And a wet late winter snow lies on the ground.
I build up the fading fire at my hearthstone
And imagine what the spring will bring around.

It’s been six long months since yellow leaves were falling
And I chose to make my camp on higher ground
Here upon the southern slope of Sparrow Mountain
To forget about the girl who turned me down.

But the wind and snow of winter quite outmatched me,
And my horses disappeared one moonlit night,
Leaving tracks in crusted snow through crooked canyons
My two horses and a leader traveling light.

Through the maze of horse-thief trails on foot I tracked them
Till I came upon a camp at close of day.
In a shadowed rope corral among the cedars
Stood a dark horse with my sorrel and my bay.

At the fire sat a man, his pistol gleaming,
With his long hair like a horse-thief or a tramp,
And he challenged me with words obscene and vulgar,
And demanded that I not approach his camp.

In a minute it was over, and the stranger
Was a lifeless form beside the flickering flame,
And the horses had stampeded, leaving nothing
But a killer and a victim with no name.

For a week I tracked those horses through the canyons
Till their trail led out upon the eastern plain
Where the snow from sun on rock and sage had melted,
And a dark cloud from the north brought snow again.

Back at home I tend the fire in my shanty
As I look upon the moonlight on the snow,
And I wonder if I’ll ever find my horses
Or if the final truth I’ll ever know.

John reads "Dark Sparrow Winter":

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John confesses: "People who take the law into their own hands are sometimes justified, sometimes dead wrong, and sometimes somewhere in between. Their deeper motives are not always clear to them, and their knowledge is not always reliable. Some of them remain in a spiritual dark winter."

JOHN D. NESBITT is the author of many works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. He writes mostly on subjects of the American West, present and past. His contemporary poem "Prairie Center" won the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Poem in 2019. He has won many awards for his short fiction and novels. He lives in Wyoming and has a good horse named Pearl. See his website at

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