Poetry For Our Time

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason. -Novalis

with 5 comments

In Michigan, they wear their love like sails,

ubiquitous and billowing, a full-hearted propulsion

across bottomless, unfreezable lakes.

And when the wind dies down,

they tattoo each others’ body parts with blueberry lips

and freckles bloom in unexpected places.

When winter comes, they lash love down tightly,

with practiced practicality and bungee cords,

their midwestern modesty renewed by the lakes turning solemn.

But they keep an eye on love, buried there under three feet of snow.

Watching from picture windows and waiting for the forsythia to bloom.

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Written by cd40

April 30, 2009 at 2:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. First of all, I’ll give a nod to Megan, whose Postcards for Meg series inspired me. Rock.

    Secondly, this is the first time I’ve ever posted a first draft to you guys. Usually, it goes through a few polishings, if not a few days of contemplation before it gets to you. So, the main concern I have with this piece is whether the summer vs. winter parts of this poem are in enough harmony and at the same time contrast. In short, I am a pretentious ass.

    cd40

    April 30, 2009 at 2:40 am

  2. I love poems about places I’ve lived. This one reminds me of this one, which is also very true:

    A Primer
    by Bob Hicok

    I remember Michigan fondly as the place I go
    to be in Michigan. The right hand of America
    waving from maps or the left
    pressing into clay a mold to take home
    from kindergarten to Mother. I lived in Michigan
    forty-three years. The state bird
    is a chained factory gate. The state flower
    is Lake Superior, which sounds egotistical
    though it is merely cold and deep as truth.
    A Midwesterner can use the word “truth,”
    can sincerely use the word “sincere.”
    In truth the Midwest is not mid or west.
    When I go back to Michigan I drive through Ohio.
    There is off I-75 in Ohio a mosque, so life
    goes corn corn corn mosque, I wave at Islam,
    which we’re not getting along with
    on account of the Towers as I pass.
    Then Ohio goes corn corn corn
    billboard, goodbye, Islam. You never forget
    how to be from Michigan when you’re from Michigan.
    It’s like riding a bike of ice and fly fishing.
    The Upper Peninsula is a spare state
    in case Michigan goes flat. I live now
    in Virginia, which has no backup plan
    but is named the same as my mother,
    I live in my mother again, which is creepy
    but so is what the skin under my chin is doing,
    suddenly there’s a pouch like marsupials
    are needed. The state joy is spring.
    “Osiris, we beseech thee, rise and give us baseball”
    is how we might sound were we Egyptian in April,
    when February hasn’t ended. February
    is thirteen months long in Michigan.
    We are a people who by February
    want to kill the sky for being so gray
    and angry at us. “What did we do?”
    is the state motto. There’s a day in May
    when we’re all tumblers, gymnastics
    is everywhere, and daffodils are asked
    by young men to be their wives. When a man elopes
    with a daffodil, you know where he’s from.
    In this way I have given you a primer.
    Let us all be from somewhere.
    Let us tell each other everything we can.

    Becky

    April 30, 2009 at 3:57 am

  3. Okay, I love this. First all because of the picture it paints, I’ve been to Michigan one time and this made me feel like I was standing on the beach at the blueberry festival watching windsurfers get thrown around on waves. And I love the transition into winter kind of like…I feel a kind of comparison to love not only does this describe playful fun summer Michigan but in winter the trials that love goes through it can’t always be warm and sweet sometimes its burried under 3 feet of snow. Just what I got.

    arstal2

    April 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm

  4. I have to say that until right now I missed the fact that the blueberry lips were for SUMMER…which of course makes total sense for blueberry filled Michigan. I was thinking they were wintry frozen blue lips, and the freckles (really summer freckles) were red/white marks left by the cold.

    This realization just made me enjoy the poem even more, even if that kind of layering wasn’t what you intended…I think it works.

    Becky

    April 30, 2009 at 9:01 pm

  5. I have also been following Megan’s poems, and I love them for the same reason I love this: Love is so hard to describe, especially without cliche. I think you do well here using a metaphor but not pushing it to the point of cliche.

    The poem seems sad to me. I don’t know if that’s what you meant by it, but the idea that love has to be tethered down each winter and the people wait and watch out for it, but don’t necessarily tend to it gives a sort of sense of hopelessness. Sure, the flowers bloom at the end, but who knows what happened to love during the winter.

    I think it works very well – love does end up in its own winter very often – but I didn’t get the same sense of summer and warmth that everyone else seemed to. For me, the focus was on the winter.

    Ashley

    May 2, 2009 at 3:54 pm


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