Sean Sexton

Capital Gain

My father said: I went into Elmer Bowers office. He was the only accountant in town at the time—the old kind with green eyeshade and garters on his sleeves. I said, Elmer I want to set up a Capital Gains bookkeeping system for my cowherd. He replied, OK Ralph. If you want to do that, you’re going to have to number every cow and write them down in a record book and when you buy a cow, you’ll have to list what you paid for her in the book, and when you sell one, you’re going to have put down what you got. So I went home and it took Uncle Eddie and me two weeks, working with a running iron—we didn’t have number irons back then—we laid a lightered-knot fire and penned and branded every cow. I set up a ledger and wrote down all the numbers. At the end of the year, I went to town, and carried that book with me, walked into Elmer’s office, handed it to him and said, Here—I’ve done it. He opened it, scanned a few pages and said: Well I’ll be Goddamned!” 

Sean says, my dream instrument is in a classical context, (although I have many contexts of which I’m very fond, not to mention instruments). I adore the cello, which most has the register of the human voice—and am best reminded of this in Bach’s Suites for Solo Cello that puts forth so much in their anthropomorphic evocations—groan to jubilation. So of course, I’ve failed the assignment, choosing my band instrument because of a solo setting, but it can also fit into almost any ensemble and embellish any sort of music beautifully.

In our dream band, on cello:

Sean Sexton was born in Indian River County and grew up on his family’s Treasure Hammock Ranch. He divides his time between managing a 700-acre cow-calf and seed stock operation, painting, and writing. He has kept daily sketch and writing journals since 1973. He is author of Blood Writing, Anhinga Press, 2009, The Empty Tomb, University of Alabama Slash Pine Press, 2014, Descent, Yellow Jacket Press, 2018, and May Darkness Restore, Press 53, 2019. He has performed at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, Miami Book Fair International, Other Words Literary Conference in Tampa, Florida and the High Road Poetry and Short Fiction Festival, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He has garnered several nominations for Pushcart Prizes, and received a Florida Individual Artist’s Fellowship in 2001. He is a board member of the Laura Riding Jackson Foundation ( and founding event chair of the Annual Poetry and Barbeque held each April, now in its tenth year. He also co-founded Poetry and Organ Advent and Lenten Concert Series at Community Church in Vero Beach, Florida ( featuring nine concerts annually, attracting poets from all over the United States. He became inaugural Poet Laureate of Indian River County in 2016.

Photograph, Capital Gain, by Sean Sexton

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