University of Mississippi

10 Moons and 13 Horses

by Gary Short

Gary Short’s new collection is the work of a mature poet at the peak of his powers, confident of his ability to speak of human betrayal and the fragility of life without bitterness or cheap sentiment, to find poignancy in loss and exaltation in the outwardly mundane. His voice is lyrical, tough, and capable of touching us profoundly. <br> <br> Short knows Nevada’s austere landscape, its ephemeral beauty, and its stoic people as few writers in any genre do. He also understands the complexities of the human soul and the contradictions of love. So he tells of how his mother, dying of cancer, revisits a day thirty years in the past when her sons trapped a trout and kept it in their father’s horse trough and how now, in her mind’s eye, she carries the boxed-in fish to the stream to release it, “a moment/of having, not loss.” And of how the feathers of a dead owl in a long-dead oak tree have blown loose, “caught and leafed out/from each taloned twig and limb . . . each feather/a separate flight, shining to live.”