Brief Tracks: Poems by Jim Thomas

Joe Benevento, ed.


This elegant volume of poetry is a testament to the craft of a greatly admired Missouri poet.

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Jim Thomas deftly weaves simple themes of midwestern rural life into exceptional reflections on the human experience. These lyric and narrative poems spring from an enjoyment of everyday living paired with an ever-present understanding of life’s transience. This elegant volume of poetry is a testament to the craft of a greatly admired Missouri poet.

To say that Jim Thomas is a poet of the Midwest is both high praise and an undeserved and unnecessary limitation to the scope and reach of his work. His poems stretch far beyond their geography and penetrate deeply into the human condition. The reader will return from these poems more patient and wiser for having read them.

—Walter Bargen, Missouri Poet Laureate

This book represents Jim Thomas’s fine poetic legacy, and a testament to a high aesthetic and craft he maintained in his work for an entire career . . . these poems stay with you, like good friends, and they show you the poet’s fine-tuned ear and affinity towards the natural world, family, and the preservation of memory through the poetic inclination. If the poems themselves feel brief and to the point, it’s only the poet’s great sense of cutting to the chase . . . to the things that matter and crystallize in a life well lived, well loved, and well spent. Brief Tracks is this poet’s gift and our inheritance.

—Virgil Suárez, author of
Guide to the Blue Tongue and 90 Miles

Jim Thomas’s poetry speaks of memory, the vicissitudes of time, loss, love, loneliness, simple pleasures and comforts, a life grounded in nature’s wildness and often rich sublimity—these poems go to the heart.

—Jack Smith, co-editor of
Green Hills Literary Lantern




Some of the Hidden Stars
Grace Notes
Dinner Companions
The Retriever
Cave Lupum
Bean Harvest
Fall Hunts
In for Stars
All the Time There Is
Breakfast Guest
Fergus’s Pool
Once in this Little Galaxy
Two Hunters
The Limit
Some of the Hidden Stars
Winter Sun Dancers

The Carnival
Muddy Waters
Chevy of the Gods
The Heavy Rain
Of Sun and Silkworms
The Carnival
Flight to Oregon, Trip to Anywhere
The Plum Bouquet
Stan’s Tree
The Fire Bubbles
A Letter to My Mother
Next on ABC: What’s My Line
Ant at Play
Things Concrete
On Transiency
Last Place

Scotch and Snow
I would kiss
A Grumbling Weed
Scraping through Dry Grass
The Dinner Bell
“When I was a child…”
Moon over Oaxaca
Shopping for Words on a Chilly Evening
Gray Bird
Gringo Dream
Beware the Long-Faced One
A Hut in Guadalupe
A Stir of Trumpets
Confessions of an Apricot Fancier
Happy Sounds
Old Chevalier
A Spring above Bistritca
Scotch and Snow

Brief Tracks
Some Hill I Passed
Immemorial Elms
On Watches
Dream Voyage
Picking Blackberries with Mrs. Sperry
Sunday Evening
The Cure
Brief Tracks
Incident on Highway 70
Caring for Moths
Welded to the Wheel
Good Friday Planting
Hay Crop
A June Hit
View from Room 102, HADH

About the Editor


Jim Thomas (1930–2009) was professor of English at Truman State University for more than thirty years, where he taught courses in American literature and creative writing. His poetry and fiction appeared in hundreds of literary journals. He previously published Seed Time, Harvest Time.

Joe Benevento is professor of English at Truman State University, where he teaches courses in creative writing and American literature and serves as co-editor of the Green Hills Literary Lantern. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in more than two hundred literary journals. He has published six books of poetry and fiction, including his novel, The Odd Squad, a finalist for the 2006 John Gardner Fiction Book Award.


A simple life isn’t all that simple. Brief Tracks is a collection of poetry from Jim Thomas reflecting on the life of a rural Missouri man in the common age. With profound thoughts and ideas, Brief Tracks is a top pick for poetry fans.

Midwest Book Review

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