The Griefmaker


By Author George Gurley & Illustrator Louis Copt

“The cut worm forgives the plow.” (William Blake)

                                         “From now on, prayers and penance shall be my plow…”  (Piers the Ploughman)


Enter the dust devils, the dervish grasses,

prairie schooners creeping in their ruts.

Enter sod busters and ploughshares,

settlers in dugouts raving in the wind,

John Brown in a God-rage,

Bible in one hand, rifle in another,

bleak whitewashed farmhouses

blinding in August light.
Awl, adze, hoe, axe, and maul,

reaper, thresher, harrow,

stone boat, corn crib, farrow pen,

slop barrel, pitchfork, hay rack, ice hook.

Egg bulge in a black snake’s neck.


Sky filled with wisps of Judgment Day trumpets,

cicadas prophesying drought,

hedge balls, sand burrs, thistle down,

cedars shivering in greatcoats dusted with snow,

buffalo wallow, arrowhead.
Shoat, boar, anvil, tong,

bullheads hanging from a trot line,

coyote pelt stretched on a fence,

bob-white whistle, cuckoo chuckle,

dickcissle’s chew-chew-chew.

Mocking bird and copperhead,

lambsquarter, morning glory, curly dock,

dead fall and sheep-eating dogs.


Enter the thousand acre Griefmaker,

Chief Blue Jacket, enter the dog star,

black Nicodemus and Haldeman-Julius,

Beecher Bible and Rifle Church.

Kansas, Acansis, Konzas, Ukasa.

Santa Fe and Union Pacific

braying in the bottoms,

townships, metes and bounds,

rain-worn gravemarkers

and organ pipe columns

of grain elevators washed in moonlight

beyond the deserted towns.

(George Gurley, ”Entering Kansas,” 2021 Winter Edition Tri-Quarterly)




PRE-ORDER AVAILABLE: september 1, 2021

PUBLICATION DATE: march 2, 2022

Additional information


Softcover, Hardcover