Sheepherder by Guinotte Wise

Drover was a word he liked
so he said that’s what he’d be
didn’t know the meaning but
he’d heard it on TV seemed
a job for grownup men a
position with some power
herding droves of animals
across rivers through passes
near canyon walls turned
purple in the late day sun
and lazing by a campfire
drinking hobo coffee.

But, lots of buts in such a
life, and lacks of luxury
he missed the power grid
he did and emanations of
it lighting up the world
no TV here, no pre-bake
at four twenty five for
pizza or charger for his
useless iPhone just a
handcrank radio that got
static or gospel on a
clear starry night fade
in and out, his book of
Dylan Thomas now well
thumbed and memorized
Death quite thoroughly
deprived of its dominion,
the sheeps’ thick noise
now his only music you
get used to it, hear the
different pitches, one for
fear and panic, one for
peace, the Border Collie
patrols and bunches ex-
citing heh heh hehs from
outliers and deeper baas
from those inside the
woolly shifting shape
of ruminants. Once a
month they brought
more food and books
he’d thought to order
letters from the outside
world, damned few these
days of social mediating
who thought to write the
lonely drover no one this
time, that’s who he sighed
forgot the can opener the
raven took his small good
one hopping away with it
as a prize hid it god
knows where the glint
of chrome excited the
collector/hoarder in him.

He had a highway-pull
sheep wagon aluminum
top and canvas liner, had
seen winds of eighty miles
an hour, rains that lasted
days the rubber tired
wagon moved by ragged
open Jeep to new grass
he’d run that Jeep every
day to keep it charged
but gas was low. They’d
bring him more with salt
and flour and jerky and
that. No charger for the
iPhone, no towers any
where, no one to talk
to anyway, Jessica quit
him, said I wished I
could quit you and
laughed her brokeback
mountain joke laugh
quit him quite finally,
said you’re fucking
crazy, what a waste
of an MFA. It’s only
for one season Jess but
she was gone like
summer wages.


Guinotte Wise lives on a farm in Resume Speed, Kansas. His short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won publication by a university press and not much acclaim. Two more books since. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives 100 miles a day to keep it. More books: More GW:


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