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We’re Almost There: Thirty Poems in Thirty Days

Photo by Denise Boxleitner

Less than a week left of writing a poem a day for Tupelo Press. This project will end on Sunday, July 30. What a rich experience it’s been to begin writing poetry again and to work on my “horse stories.” Poetry seems to suit them. I’ve found a routine that takes me to writing instead of wasting time.

I’d like to thank Mark and Karen Hessinger, Philippa Gort Barden, LB Johnson, Frankie Benson, Chris Mothkovich, Dave and Doreen Robinson, Mary Henderson and Christina MacDonald for their generous donations and support of my work on this project. Bruce has been very patient with my sitting at the computer most of the day, including during dinner. He’s listened while I have read these aloud. He has been my number one supporter. I am well on the way to a completed manuscript, whose working title is Spiritual War Horse.

I hope you consider donating to the Tupelo Press 30/30 fundraiser. I have a bit of a ways to go to reach my goal. If you’ve enjoyed reading my writing on this blog, I hope you’ll consider donating to this indie press that publishes more women than men and supports emerging poets like me with this 30/30 program.

Here’s a poem I wouldn’t have written were it not for this program.


I Believe in Deep Rest

I believe in deep rest,
— in taking a few days off,
going back to bed
in the middle of the day,
wrapped up in your husband’s arms,
the dogs snoring.

I believe in how deep rest
can restore you
even in the dead of February,
when the semester is quietly rolling
like the diesel engine
you turn around to see,
its headlamp,
a second sun in your eyes,
that you did not hear,
but there it is,
big, and quiet,
and you snatch up the dog
you’ve let off leash
and stand back,
watching the sparks,
hearing the sing of the rails.

Deep rest can sop up the fear, the weariness,
make you sing with those iron wheels,
like the coyotes before the train
through the winter storm watch,
mud season,
grumpy students,
and the hard work of reading their work
right on into crocuses, and orioles
and wide fields smelling like grass cut.


And here’s another one about trail riding:

The Pony Cronies

Susan tells me about Frankie,
who worked in the Trio Program
at NIU, who rides horses.
I friend Frankie,
and she tells me about Chris
who rides horses.
They invite me to ride
at Deer Run,
a series of trimmed trails
looping around pastures
of prairie grass and wild flowers
except for the one water crossing
and tracks that loom over us.
We ride through woods
and mosquitoes like bridges
to hidden fields you wouldn’t
know are there from the road.
My neighbor said
her dad pastured cattle there
before it became forest preserve.
I ride with Frankie and Patsy
Denise and Gayla
who ride a paint and an appaloosa
a paint and a chestnut,
only now Frankie, Gayla and Denise
have changed horses—a black paint, a black
and a buckskin.

For that first ride I clean
Tessie’s saddle and bridle,
brush out her tail.
We walk out,
Tessie falling in behind Ginger
and Indy and Star.
I watch chestnut, appaloosa
and paint hindquarters, swishing tails.
I watch my friends’ hips and backs
rock in the saddle. I feel my hips
rock like a small boat tied to a dock.
I look out at wild flowers.
Frankie names them:
spiderwort, purple cone flower,
bee balm, butterfly weed,
wild roses, wild raspberries,
milkweed, buttercups.
When we enter the woods
ducks lift off a back water
still as glass, plated with green.

On later rides we see
a bald eagle
lift off the Kishwaukee
white tail fanned out,
wing span large as a table.
We see a sand hill crane lift off
a fence in front of Tessie’s nose.
A thrill of startle shoots
through me as the bird’s wings
shake the air like bed sheets
and the prairie slides back
an eon or two. Tessie walks on.
Mosquitoes and horseflies
land on the horses, on us
despite bug spray.
We listen to each others’ stories.
I talk about sorrows
that stay chronic until I retire.
The others talk about movie plots
and grandchildren, and fixing houses.
Chris tells what happened
by this tree and that side path
years ago with horses no longer here.
When Denise talks about Brassy
stumbling and pitching her off
I shudder. I admire her bravery.
I think of the walkabout
–how aboriginal peoples’ stories
are embedded in the places
they walk, how maybe
we mark our stories
by the places we walk.
Tessie walks along
snatching grass.

If you’d like to scroll through and see my poems click here. If you’d like to donate, click here. (I’ve included Morgen’s picture because I write about her a great deal, and wisdom she’s taught me.)


  • So beautiful, Katie! I love the way you write about rest and about horses. I need some deep rest. I could feel your words pulling me to set aside all I’m juggling now and to simply rest, held in my husband’s arms. And I need a horse. I miss the daily reality of horses during my youth. I feel as if I know Morgen and Tessie as intimate friends now. It’s been a treat to read you more frequently during these thirty days. I’m glad you’ve accomplished so much and have a book out of it! I’m so excited for you!

    • katiewilda says:

      Oh thank you so much for reading these so consistently. I hope you can take a day or some hours off from the stuff you’re juggling. I’m looking forward to finishing up this project. Looks like you’re doing a great job with your book launch. Thank you for being so supportive. I wonder if time with horses might make you feel better. My mind has cleared since I started riding Tessie again. I wonder if there is a therapeutic riding center near you…Well, godspeed with your book…

      • I think it would! It would strengthen all the muscles we’re working on AND it would be good for my soul. 🙂

        • katiewilda says:

          It definitely would do that. Riding a horse mimics walking…And stuff that’s good for your soul is well good…This may sound odd but a horse is big enough to give us their joy. I’m amazed at how awful I feel when I begin riding and how much better I feel afterwards…

  • I remember that from my youth – how much of the ride had to do with the horse’s mood and personality. They’re amazing creatures for sure.

  • Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    I love your poetry, Katie, and will try to go back when my time is freer and read through some more. This is so beautiful. I can picture it all. The immediacy of your writing is breathtaking. Admittedly, I’m not a horse woman (a little fearful of riding), but you surely make me appreciate it. I sent you an email about this series, and will respond once I hear back from you.

    All the best w/ this!

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you so much for commenting and being so supportive. I haven’t been sure if these poems work as poems because I’ve been a prose writer for so long. That is a high compliment that I’ve helped you appreciate horses even though you don’t know them. I have a few more poems to write to make this a manuscript and revision but I’ve written fifty pages so far. Thank you so much for being a true friend because I’ve been down and spent.