A Lewis & Clark poem

LEWIS & CLARK, 1805-1806


From the border of Idaho and Montana

no one heard from them.


They disappeared

into wildness only Indians knew.


Just in case

the expedition failed


Lewis & Clark sent back

a keelboat


filled with letters, reports to President Jefferson

and treasures:


four magpies and a prairie dog.

Safe in the hands of their least capable co-


workers, the craft traveled all the long way

down the Missouri River


while the duo journeyed on to the Pacific.

When they reached St. Louis a year later


the crowds gasped. They were not dead,

only forgotten. Jefferson welcomed them home —


“the length of time without hearing of you

had begun to be felt awfully.”


  1. Not dead. *Only* forgotten. I’m not sure which is worse.

  2. Clif Drummond says

    Thank you for catching Mr. Jefferson’s delightful yet eloquent phrasing. (So does this mean the keelboat with the scalawags and personal treasures did not, in fact, make it back to St. Louis?
    Love, Dad

  3. to imagine… going into
    this place
    of wild sweet wild erness
    for one year
    though there were already people
    and creatures in
    this place
    of home sweet home erness