3 Montana Goodbye Poems

Teaching Risk

Dedicated to Roger Dunsmore and the 2018 Wilderness & Civ Cohort


I asked my students to sing

And instead, they taught me new songs. 

Learning is teaching

And teaching is holding the hand of the unknown –

We sometimes worry together, notably before dawn.

But then I arrive on campus, and the faces appear 

Bleary-eyed yet eager to get lost in the questions 

And all the big wonders.

When the metallic shrill of a lawnmower muffles our voice,

We stop to scream in unison – 

One wild chorus rising above the shaved land and all the important buildings. 



Things Done in the Last Three Years


Ate all the wild plums

Bought a house on a mountain

Cheered and cried for my MFA peeps 

Danced in the mud on Easter morning 

Encountered sleepy grizzly bears  

Forgot to pray

Gawked at the Tobacco Roots 

Howled near the Front Range  

Imitated Canada Geese 

Journaled in the Rattlesnake 

Kicked ponderosa cones 

Learned new songs with students 

Mapped each semester, then learned maps distort the journey

Noted the names on gravestones

Organized potlucks 

Protested in Salt Lake 

Quarantined on the North Side 

Rafted with Ron Wakimoto 

Swam with a poet 

Taught writing and land ethics 

Uttered haikus while walking 

Visited homes scented in sourdough 

Wrote two obituaries and a few poems 

X-rayed Dennis’s legs 

Yelped at the sight of elk on Jumbo 

Zested my own mocktails




10 Wild Things 


Wonder with mentors 

Imagine the land before settlement

Lean against sticky conifers

Dive into a Swan Valley pond 

Elude parking tickets 

Render pork belly 

Navigate scat

Embrace vulnerability 

Swing-dance with a student 

Stomp barefoot in a spiced forest



2 thoughts on “3 Montana Goodbye Poems

  1. I have been writing most of the day, but I can’t find the words. Beautiful beyond words Thank you for sending. Joanna seibert The Rev. Joanna Seibert MD Deacon St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Emeritus Professor Arkansas Children’s Hospital and UAMS joannaseibert@me.com Follow my Daily Something email on joannaseibert.com



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