Self Portrait with Exile, Bears, and the Original Carter Family

All the bears in the zoo look pathetic.

Their eyes glazed, bodies lethargic.

You can shake the fence and snarl; they’ll hardly flex their nostrils.

I think they are majestic.
Inhabiting their fur so far from home, so public.

I want to send them home.



I have walked among the bears at dusk, along the thoroughfares and
meadows of Western Carolina.

I have sown the fields as instructed.

I have waded to the far-side banks of Jordan.

Above the river, a weeping willow weeps.



Another day of snow down the neck.
Another day without mountains.

Thank you, Lord, for these thy gifts, the beatings we are about to receive
from the bounty of Upper Midwestern winters.

I have rolled up my sleeves.

Who will fetch us from the long sleep?

Ryan Walsh