Vox Populi

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Sean Sexton: Poem Letter to Rick Campbell

Hey Rick:

This little chore, picking through your poems as you asked, gave

me something to do in my almost nightly 2AM insomnia. 

Curse the importune wakenings of late middle age! Or is it early old age?

Thus, I’ve read again in this ungainly hour, your words and life,

beheld the amazing itinerary it has been, as I ponder my own

life, my sheltering in the broad arms of family and land.


I had to kill a cow yesterday, or I should say, I watched my son

shoot her after we were unable to get her on her feet.

Bulls rode her down when by that unfortunate clock—

suckling her twelfth calf, in her fourteenth year—she came in heat.

We hauled water and feed to her three days, administered

Banamine, Dexamethasone injectable, and roll-on gel and a whole

caulking gun of calcium paste; and with tractor and forks, tried to lift

her to her feet with a cruel cradling device borrowed from a dairy.

We failed.


But I’m off subject now and I want to tell you to come and read us these vital,

riveting poems, I’ve chosen from your books as you asked, for a program at church.

They speak of burning rivers, molten steel, revelation in a city window, a lost

brother, magnolias and loblolly pines, your beloved daughter, and measures of time.

They mark worlds unavailable where I’m from, doors left open—to one caught

behind gates that must be kept shut, and visions of a grand, boundless sphere, to one

who’s memorized the dawn and set of day from one life-long horizon.


The passages contained in these lines (I now see as your own little

circumscribing strings of fence), astound me—enlighten as they

sadden—hurt as they gladden. A soft-spoken vision runs their gamut

to the end of your pages, a universe far away from mine, yet, by your

gifts, remains within reach as the ruckus of the interstate in the distance

when the wind is out of the West on such a morning as this.

Copyright 2022 Sean Sexton

Sean Sexton, author of May Darkness Restore, was born in Indian River County, Florida and grew up on his family’s Treasure Hammock Ranch where he divides his time managing a 700-acre cow-calf and seed stock operation, painting, and writing. He is author of several chapbooks and two full poetry collections with another due out in 2022. He’s performed at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV, Miami Book Fair International, and Other Words Literary Conference in Tampa, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2020. He has received a FL Individual Artist’s Fellowship and became inaugural Poet Laureate of Indian River County in 2016. 

3 comments on “Sean Sexton: Poem Letter to Rick Campbell

  1. Rosemary Roenfanz
    February 10, 2022

    Marvelous writing. Takes me back to farming days…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      February 11, 2022

      Yes, Sean rhapsodizes about a way of life that has almost disappeared in North America.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Robin Blanton
    February 10, 2022

    Thank you for sharing the rugged landscape of your early morning reflections, Sean, along with your beautiful tribute to Rick Campbell’s work. I value and appreciate your late middle age insomnia!! Robin Blanton

    Liked by 1 person

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