A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

Lowell Jaeger

As founding editor of Many Voices Press, Lowell Jaeger compiled Poems Across the Big Sky, an anthology of Montana poets, and New Poets of the American West, an anthology of poets from eleven Western states.

His third collection of poems, Suddenly Out of a Long Sleep (Arctos Press, 2009), was a finalist for the Paterson Award. His fourth collection, WE, (Main Street Rag Press) was published in 2010.

He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council and winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize. Most recently he was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting thoughtful civic discourse.

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The Paper Route

Impossible to pedal my paper route
when snow blew sideways and dark fell
late afternoons. So my father
drove me door to door a long way
down farm lanes to scattered homes
beyond the bounds of town. He did this

week nights after shifts at the mill,
tires crunching ice and gravel, as the motor
sputtered and caught like a dreamer’s
fitful mumble. He said nothing.
I said nothing back, though I studied him
a little sideways as he eased us

into each stop, his stubbled face paled
in dash light yellows. Smelled his sweat
and sawdust and flannel. Rolled another
headline from the bundle between us,
climbed out and trudged headlong up the walk
toward the glow of someone’s window.

Toward open doors where I listened
to scraps of conversations at supper tables
while I stood to collect my pay and maybe
tips. Which I figured totaled less than what it cost
my father for gas, idling while his headlights burned
straight ahead down the road and never wavered.

And it was warm in the car when I came back.