We Make A Tiny Herd / Lucy Griffith


We Make a Tiny Herd

poems to honor the Burro Lady of Far West Texas

Lucy Griffith

ISBN: 978-1-59948-729-8, 86 pages, $14 (+ shipping)

Release Date:  March 12, 2019


Happiest on a tractor named Mabel (a muse of 55 horsepower) Lucy Griffith lives on a ranch beside the Guadalupe River near Comfort, Texas. As a poet and essayist, she has work in Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems and Weaving the Terrain: 100-word Poems of the Southwest. She is co-editor of Echoes of the Cordillera: Attitudes and Latitudes Along the Great Divide, an ekphrastic anthology. She was a contributor at Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in 2018.

With sparkling diction sparse as the Far West Texas desert of her poems’ settings, Griffith captures the iconic essence of the late, fiercely independent Judy Magers, also affectionately known as “La Reina” or “Burro Lady,” who, for decades, with nothing but her loyal burro and what meager possessions she could carry on its back, traveled bar ditches, slept beneath the starry sky, and never used a tent or made a superfluous fire. What a story! ~Larry D. Thomas, Member, Texas Institute of Letters, 2008 Texas Poet Laureate


The Burro Lady of West Texas was diminutive in body but large in spirit, and in this powerful collection Lucy Griffith captures the full force of her voice, “full of a thousand sunsets and brimming with stars.” La Reina is the poet’s muse and mentor: “You/who rarely spoke/have taken my muffled voice and/made it boom.” Come along for the ride as Griffith tells the story of this fascinating but elusive woman. You won’t be disappointed. ~Lee Robinson, author of Hearsay, Winner of the Poets out Loud Prize


Lucy Griffith’s work grows out of a passionate love for our southern borderlands, and for their harsh and harshly beautiful landscape. These poems are a poignant lovesong to west Texas, and to the power of “a woman alone”—be it the nearly mythic figure of “The Burro Lady,” or Griffith herself, calling across the desert to “La Reina.” ~Patrick Phillips, author of Elegy for a Broken Machine

La Reina


I take no charity.
I am not homeless.
My hat makes a fine roof.
My blankets are my floor, striped and stacked.
My solace, the smell of creosote.

My journey follows the bar ditch,
my rhythm, the flop of my burro’s ears,
my music, the clop of his hooves.
And I’m proud to ride tall,
boots and spurs, part of me.

No tent, no fire,
and I don’t want to talk.
For I am full of thousands of sunsets, and
brimming with stars,
in a quiet so still, I hear my heartbeat.

I have my secrets. Not lonely, just alone.
I answer to my burro and myself.
I am La Reina: Queen of my own life.

From you, I only ask respect:
do not lay your story over mine.



The Shape of My Map

If you have a talent for surviving—it does not seem wrong to use it. ~ Andrew Miller


Some call me the Burro Lady.
Some people call me La Reina.

Who knows what else they call me?
I don’t care.

I’m private.
I travel the ditch beside the road.

Yes, I ride a burro.
I’ve had several: spotted, light, dark.

I like the big ones.
I’ve ridden out here for decades.

I wander the borderland,
cross the river sometimes,

Lajitas, Terlingua, Alpine, Marfa.
Up to Valentine and Kent, Van Horn,

the Guadalupe Mountains.
Over to Ft. Hancock, even New Mexico,

swinging back east to Sheffield
and Sanderson. Roads there are quiet and lonely.

I don’t mind discomfort.
The weather out here is unforgiving.

Keeps the rascals out.



Home on the Range: The Rules


1. Travel light. You don’t need much.

2. Know where water is. Have a plan.

3. Shower at the truck stop.

4. Use what’s at hand. You’d be surprised what’s thrown away.

5. When the sun goes to bed, you should too.

6. If it’s cold, make like a bean burrito. Lay on a tarp, fold it and roll up snug.

7. If it’s windy, crawl in the cave of a woolen blanket.

8. If it’s hot, find some shade. Rest.

9. Have a broke-in hat with a big brim.

10. If a stranger wants to talk, turn and face the mountains. They’ll get it.

11. Always pay for what you get, self-respect makes you tall.

12. You are unbound; take your time. Burro speed is just right.

SKU: 978-1-59948-729-8 Categories: , Tag: