Break-In
Lowell Jaeger

February 4, 2016


He’s telling me the bad news with a smile.
DVD player and collection of DVDs,
flat screen TV, two computers,
a cell phone — all gone.
Desk lamp, end table, missing.
Display of arrowheads framed
on the wall, ripped from its hooks.

He’s a ranch kid, college freshman.
Rents an apartment with three other guys,
on a proper well-lit tree lined street
adjacent to campus. Doubt my old man
even owns a key to the ranch place,

he says. Least I never seen him use it.

Says he’ll lock up every night from now on.
But that’s not the point, he says,
and grins wider. Says he’s turned
calves in the womb. Seen wolves
chew a lamb to nothing but fleece.
Swam horses and steers across
an icy river. Point is, he says,

I don’t know squat ‘bout people.
Says he wonders what nerve it takes
to sneak in the dark and open a stranger’s door.
Tiptoe out with a TV while the owners snooze
in the next room. Risk jail time.
He came to college, he says, for the education.
Says he knows now a lot more than before.


Lowell Jaeger teaches creative writing at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana. He is author of six collections of poems: War On War  (Utah State University Press, 1988), Hope Against Hope (Utah State University Press 1990), Suddenly Out of a Long Sleep (Arctos Press, 2009), WE (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2010), How Quickly What’s Passing Goes Past (Grayson Books, 2013) and Driving the Back Road Home(Shabda Press, 2015). He is founding editor of Many Voices Press and recently edited New Poets of the American West, an anthology of poets from western states. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize, and recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council. Most recently, Lowell was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting civil civic discourse.

What motivates him to create:
When my oldest daughter was three, she was watching me fix something around the house, and she said, “Dad, you’re a really good maker!”  Well, that seemed like a huge compliment, especially coming from such an innocent perspective.  Some people, I believe, are simply programmed to make things, like others may be programmed to heal or to teach or to lead.  In my case, I make things with words.  It’s who I am.