Wild Horses / Pam Baggett


poems by

Pam Baggett

ISBN: 978-1-59948-685-7,   40 pages, $12

Release Date:  May 30, 2018


Pam Baggett’s work appears in journals and anthologies, including Atlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, Greensboro Review, Kakalak, Nimrod, San Pedro River Review, Tar River Poetry and The Southern Poetry Anthology Volume VII: North Carolina. Honors include an Orange County Arts Commission grant and the Durham Arts Council’s Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artists Grant. She hosts readings and teaches poetry workshops in Hillsborough, NC and writes in a sunlit studio overlooking her pasture in rural Cedar Grove, NC.

Wild Horses is no slow waltz down memory lane, but a barebacked, buck-naked ride on the slick haunches of fate (to the tune of Riders on the Storm) all the way from the mystical land of sex, drugs, and rock & roll to the bedside of a dying friend. It will leave readers breathless and brokenhearted, but convinced that love is the great redeemer and living life to the fullest, worth the ultimate price. Terri Kirby Erickson, author of Becoming the Blue Heron


We could love the poems in Wild Horses just for Pam Baggett’s sharp, wry, unrepentant, and utterly recognizable snapshots of The Way It Was: sex and drugs and rock and roll, back seats and bad choices. But this is no simple coming-of-age nostalgia. These poems unite in a moving, full-throated lament for the loss of a deeply loved companion in the headlong high drama of life. —Florence Nash


“Good times last as long as a record album,” Pam Baggett writes in the title poem of this collection. Wild Horses follows two women from “hip huggers and halter tops” to the death of one from cancer. Both mourning and celebratory, this book, rooted in the lyrics of the early 70s, claims “Rock stars and teens may be immortal, but I suspect the rest of us are dust.” We are not dust as long as we have poems like this to light the way, to lead up to and beyond the edge of life.  Al Maginnes, author of The Next Place

Summer After Seventh Grade, 1972


Lured to her parents’ den by music,
we froze in the doorway, transfixed.
A Dick Cavett special: The Rolling Stones,
Live from Madison Square Garden,
the singer’s white jumpsuit skin-tight
as he shook his hips, humped the air,
beamed a dimpled devil grin,
lush lips nearly swallowing the mic.
And a skinny dark-haired lead guitarist,
cream satin shirt unbuttoned to his jeans,
bending his strings until the sound
thrummed through my belly.

Mama hadn’t mentioned this feeling. No
mathematical formula, no grammatical structure
could account for the wetness in my pants.
Cindy standing beside me, drop-mouthed.
A secret door blown open—
we stepped through.
Childhood vanished behind us.



Ninth Grade


You scored us a joint we lit
in your living room, late afternoon,
your mom off to the hairdresser’s,
brother at football practice, father at work.
We sucked at the burning paper,
coughed, inhaled again. Three hits
each before we heard a car door slam—
you ran for the bathroom, flushed,
sprinted to the bedroom to light
some incense. Uh-huh, your father said,
in answer to your mumbled reply
to What’s that smell? But he let us go,
out the door to wander the neighborhood,
giggling, shaking, high on adrenaline
if nothing else, on the road to becoming
masters of the nickel bag, smoldering
roach, the clip, the last shred of paper
fluttering out the car window.



Wild Horses


When blue lights flashed that July night,
Richard swallowed the roach Cindy passed him
lit end first as I stuffed a nickel bag
into my underpants. Jack drove till the smell
swirled out the Camaro’s windows, then crunched
over onto the shoulder. Deputy Johnson
swaggered from his car.

He ordered the guys out, made them spread-eagle
against the trunk. I was sweating all over
the pot in my pants. But we caught a lucky break—
Johnson got a call and peeled out,
shattering our ears with his sirens. The boys
shot him the finger, climbed in cheering,
pumping fists. Back at the pool hall,
we boasted, pretending we hadn’t been scared.
The night turned beautiful.

But good times last as long as a record album.
That December, Richard got busted
for stealing presents from under someone’s tree—
his priors earned him three-to-five.
Jack got fingered as a narc and disappeared.
Cindy hooked me up with a guy
who slept with me, then dumped me
for her. I stumbled through to graduation.
Back home on college break, I went with her
to one party, heard the same stoners bitch about work
like they’d bitched about English class.

Cindy went on living wild—
smack, coke, Cuervo, chasing the Ramones
all over the East Coast. For thirty years,
we hardly spoke. Then one day I stopped by
and it felt easy, like cruising Highway 70
on a Saturday night, hand out riding the wind
through the open window, no cops in sight.
On the radio, Mick and Keith crooning
Wild, wild horses couldn’t drag me away.

Breasts, lungs, liver—
which went first? By the time she felt sick,
cancer had driven its thunder-blue Camaro
through her bones.

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