Tipping one for Jim


Photo by Andy Anderson, I highly recommend you check out his stuff – http://www.andyandersonphoto.com

Jim Harrison has been a large influence in my life for a long time. He holds those strings that tug at my soul and I’m glad for it. Since I’m a bit busy for something original, I’ll pass along some of my favorites by this American icon.

Sometimes this makes the world shrink.

Drinking Song

I want to die in the saddle. An enemy of civilization.
I want to walk around in the woods, fish and drink.
I’m going to be a child about it and I can’t help it, 
I was born this way and it makes me very happy to fish and drink.

I left when it was still dark and walked on the path to the river,
the Yellow Dog, where I spent the day fishing and drinking.

After she left me and I quit my job and wept for a year and all 
my poems were born dead, I decided I would only fish and drink.

Water will never leave earth and whiskey is good for the brain.

What else am I supposed to do in these last days but fish and drink?

In the river was a trout and I was on the bank, my heart in my chest, 
clouds above, she was in NY forever and I, fishing and drinking.


And this one makes it grow.

I Believe

I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across the lake
in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools,
the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic,
used tires, taverns, saloons, bars, gallons of red wine,
abandoned farmhouses, stunted lilac groves,
gravel roads that end, brush piles, thickets, girls
who haven’t quite gone totally wild, river eddies,
leaky wooden boats, the smell of used engine oil,
turbulent rivers, lakes without cottages lost in the woods,
the primrose growing out of a cow skull, the thousands
of birds I’ve talked to all of my life, the dogs
that talked back, the Chihuahuan ravens that follow
me on long walks. The rattler escaping the cold hose,
the fluttering unknown gods that I nearly see
from the left corner of my blind eye, struggling
to stay alive in a world that grinds them underfoot.


This keeps it in front of us.

Seventy days on the river with a confusion between river turbulence and human tribulation. We are here to be curious not consoled. The gift of the gods is consciousness not my forlorn bleating prayers for equilibrium, the self dog-paddling in circles on its own alga-lidded pond. Emily Walter wrote: “We are given rivers so we know our hearts can break, but still keep us breathing.”


This keeps us dreaming.

The Golden Window

I hope to define my life, whatever is left, 
by migrations, south and north with the birds 
and far from the metallic fever of clocks, 
the self staring at the clock saying, “I must do this.” 
I can’t tell the time on the tongue of the river 
in the cool morning air, the smell of the ferment
of greenery, the dust off the canyon’s rock walls,
the swallows swooping above the scent of raw water.


It’s good to feel. Cheers Jim.



9 responses to “Tipping one for Jim

    • Hey Andy, I wanted to email and ask permission first, but figured this would be ok citing you. I want to buy a print of this if you are selling them. One of my favorite pictures ever.

      • you bet, let me know what size you would like brother

        Regards, Andy

        Andy Anderson Photography Website | Stock | Blog | Facebook | Email

  1. I don’t need to tell you how much I love that man . . . but what I do need to mention is that the pieces you picked are all-time favourites of mine. Bravo good sir.

    And that is one sweet portrait.

  2. I first got into Harrison during a time in my life where I felt somewhat lost. He convinced me that being lost wasn’t such a bad thing and I have stayed in that state being ever since.
    Kudos for shining a spotlight on his poetry. I think a healthy portion of self proclaimed Jim Harrison fans aren’t even aware of that aspect of his work, which is undoubtedly what he would want to be remembered for the most. I will go out on limb her and say he is one of, if not the most significant of american poets in the last and current century.

Rabble Amongst Yerselves or Holler Back

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s