Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pause for Poetry

And now I would like to share a poem, because I used to read a lot of poetry and haven't done in a while, and sometimes my toddler pulls books out of Mommy and Daddy's bookcases, and I am reminded of some really good reading I have.

This is by Louis Jenkins, and he only writes prose poems, which means they're like compact little stories crammed into one paragraph and sometimes have lots of run-on sentences. From his book The Winter Road, here is


Out on the great plains, where I was born, the wind blows constantly. When I was a kid I'd get 35 cents and run as hard as I could to the Lotta-Burger or the movie theater only to find it had blown away. Going home was no better. Sometimes it would take a couple of days to find my house. Under these conditions it was impossible to get acquainted with the neighbors. It was a shock to open the front door and be faced with the county jail, the Pentecostal Church or Aunt Erma carrying two large suitcases. Trash from all over the state caught and piled up at the edge of town and during the windiest times of spring sometimes whole days blew away in a cloud of dust. I feel my natural lifespan may have been shortened by the experience. Still, it was a great place to grow up. As the old boy said, "You can have those big cities, people all jammed together. Give me some wide-open spaces." In the morning out on the plains, you have a couple of cups of coffee, get all wound up and go like hell across an open field, try to bounce, clear both ditches and the highway so you don't get caught in the barbed wire, fly from one fenced-in nothing to another, hit the ground and keep on rolling.

Jenkins is from Minnesota and he has a great sense of humor about the Midwest. I like how it starts out normal and quickly goes off where you didn't expect it to. And yet you still know what he means, it's not that abstract. It's just a funny kind of lens to look at life through. I've seen him read once and he has a very quiet, deliberate delivery. It's kind of a thrill to watch. Which I can't say about a lot of writers. Some of them should never leave the house. Anyway, I guess part of why I thought of this poem right now is that it's been such a windy spring here. Very windy. Oh, yeah, like the first art fair day, with 36 mph gusts all day. Okay, maybe I am still having issues about that experience. But still. It's a great poem, idn't it?

1 comment:

Chris said...

I love this poem. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!