In Loving Memory Poems About U.S. States


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In Loving Memory Poems


These In Loving Memory Poems are presented in loving memory of the poets who created them.



 

ALABAMA

DAYBREAK IN ALABAMA

by Langston Hughes

***

When I get to be a composer

I'm gonna write me some music about

Daybreak in Alabama

And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it

Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist

And falling out of heaven like soft dew.

I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it

And the scent of pine needles

And the smell of red clay after rain

And long red necks

And poppy colored faces

And big brown arms

And the field daisy eyes

Of black and white black white black people

And I'm gonna put white hands

And black hands and brown and yellow hands

And red clay earth hands in it

Touching everybody with kind fingers

And touching each other natural as dew

In that dawn of music when I

Get to be a composer

And write about daybreak

In Alabama.


ALASKA

***

AUTUMN IN THE ALASKA RANGE

by Tom Sexton

***

Drive north when the braided glacial rivers

have begun to assume their winter green.

When crossing Broad Pass, you might see

the shimmer of caribou moving on a distant ridge

or find a dark abacus of berries in the frost

on the trail to Summit Lake. Beyond this,

the endless mountains curving like a scimitar.

And in the querulous mind, the yearning heart

a sudden immeasurable calm.


ARIZONA

***

ARIZONA DESERT RAIN - A POEM

By Don Gray

***

Solemn, solemn is the world.

Rocks and trees deep-rooted stand,

fixed in broad and buxom earth,

twist and spread of limb and girth

in slanting, pouring rain.

Wind shakes the trees in ruffled stance

like misbehavior shoulder-grasped.

Lightning breaks, streaks earth and sky,

sheet metal tearing in a hurricane.

Atmosphere thick, become opaque,

slashing rain and pelting hail

scribe the breadth and depth of air

in diagonal wild display.

Pocked and wrinkled water pools

the brown and tawny grit

in unaccustomed moisture sheen,

the desert never much like this;

colors rich and sodden green.

Palo verde trees, mesquite,

twisted by pressuring life and death,

fair days and foul, staunchly

unperturbed by blanching rain.

Greasewood heavy-laden

with blueberries of light

that drip and fall in harvest lush and ripe.

Great drops ride the prickly pear

like roller coasters upside down,

horses' saddles fallen under,

liquid tumors swollen large

that fall and burst upon the ground;

balloons aimed by bomb-sight kids

from second story windows.

The long rain ends, and rivulets

course the yard as larger washes

rage and roar, carve the desert sand.

The woodpecker's clarion call

duets with distant tractor

in cold air cleansed by recent rain.

Wind-whipped clouds like great black lids

reflect in grey-brown mirrors

strewn the length of desert path

my black dog ripples with her tongue.

Trails left by rushing waters

seem mile-wide deltas viewed eye-high,

black with iron ore dark as dog

whose claw-punched prints set right the scale

of tiny flows that minor rut to desert depths.

Bright, bright sky-filled light,

sun-scribed sparrow on a barbed-wire fence;

two javelina, shining hackles rise,

stand splay-footed, flat-nose test the wind.

Quartz gleams dazzle in glittering sand;

the thrasher's whistled succulence,

a juicy morsel well tasted.

The sun, a fiery, shattered orb,

destroys the black saguaro.

 

 

ARKANSAS

***

My Arkansas

By Lindsay Wirth

***

Little Rock in my pocket

hovering honey bee over the heartspace

like the june fireflies in nana’s mason jars

twinkle blink until they fall sleeping

like snowflakes patterned powdered sugar.

into the secret, locked watermelon

rind of remembries. i go each time i see

the first signs of rain that thunder perfume

as the grass bows toward the mountain.

and mom’s crayola tulips, pink still reaching

each spring towards the tiny tear torrents

beading down and buoyed manila,

the wintry river traffic string wipers

and the headlights dashing them home.

 

 

CALIFORNIA

***

The Changing Light

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

***

The changing light

at San Francisco

is none of your East Coast light

none of your

pearly light of Paris

The light of San Francisco

is a sea light

an island light

And the light of fog

blanketing the hills

drifting in at night

through the Golden Gate

to lie on the city at dawn

And then the halcyon late mornings

after the fog burns off

and the sun paints white houses

with the sea light of Greece

with sharp clean shadows

making the town look like

it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o'clock

sweeping the hills

And then the veil of light of early evening

And then another scrim

when the new night fog

floats in

And in that vale of light

the city drifts

anchorless upon the ocean



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COLORADO

***

SPIRIT THAT FORM'D THIS SCENE

By Walt Whitman

***

Spirit that form'd this scene,

These tumbled rock-piles grim and red,

These reckless heaven-ambitious peaks,

These gorges, turbulent-clear streams, this naked freshness,

These formless wild arrays, for reasons of their own,

I know thee, savage spirit--we have communed together,

Mine too such wild arrays, for reasons of their own;

Was't charged against my chants they had forgotten art?

To fuse within themselves its rules precise and delicatesse?

The lyrist's measur'd beat, the wrought-out temple's

grace--column and polish'd arch forgot?

But thou that revelest here--spirit that form'd this scene,

They have remember'd thee.

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CONNECTICUT

***

A WINTER WITHOUT SNOW

by J. D. McClatchy

***

Even the sky here in Connecticut has it,

That wry look of accomplished conspiracy,

The look of those who've gotten away

With a petty but regular white collar crime.

When I pick up my shirts at the laundry,

A black woman, putting down her Daily News,

Wonders why and how much longer our luck

Will hold. "Months now and no kiss of the witch."

The whole state overcast with such particulars.

For Emerson, a century ago and farther north,

Where the country has an ode's jagged edges,

It was "frolic architecture." Frozen blue-

Print of extravagance, shapes of a shared life

Left knee-deep in transcendental drifts:

The isolate forms of snow are its hardest fact.

Down here, the plain tercets of provision do,

Their picket snow-fence peeling, gritty,

Holding nothing back, nothing in, nothing at all.

Down here, we've come to prefer the raw material

Of everyday and this year have kept an eye

On it, shriveling but still recognizable--

A sight that disappoints even as it adds

A clearing second guess to winter. It's

As if, in the third year of a "relocation"

To a promising notch way out on the Sunbelt,

You've grown used to the prefab housing,

The quick turnover in neighbors, the constant

Smell of factory smoke--like Plato's cave,

You sometimes think--and the stumpy trees

That summer slighted and winter just ignores,

And all the snow that never falls is now

Back home and mixed up with other piercing

Memories of childhood days you were kept in

With a Negro schoolmate, of later storms

Through which you drove and drove for hours

Without ever seeing where you were going.

Or as if you've cheated on a cold sickly wife.

Not in some overheated turnpike motel room

With an old flame, herself the mother of two,

Who looks steamy in summer-weight slacks

And a parrot-green pullover. Not her.

Not anyone. But every day after lunch

You go off by yourself, deep in a brown study,

Not doing much of anything for an hour or two,

Just staring out the window, or at a patch

On the wall where a picture had hung for ages,

A woman with planets in her hair, the gravity

Of perfection in her features--oh! her hair

The lengthening shadow of the galaxy's sweep.

As a young man you used to stand outside

On warm nights and watch her through the trees.

You remember how she disappeared in winter,

Obscured by snow that fell blindly on the heart,

On the house, on a world of possibilities.

 

 

DELAWARE

 

 

FLORIDA

***

A FLORIDA NIGHT

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

***

Win' a-blowin' gentle so de san' lay

low,

San' a little heavy f'om de rain,

All de pa'ams a-wavin' an' a-weavin' slow,

Sighin' lak a sinnah-soul in pain.

Alligator grinnin' by de ol' lagoon,

Mockin'-bird a-singin' to de big full moon,

'Skeeter go a-skimmin' to his fightin' chune

(Lizy Ann 's a-waitin' in de lane!).

Moccasin a-sleepin' in de cyprus swamp;

Need n't wake de gent'man, not fu' me.

Mule, you need n't wake him w'en you

switch an' stomp,

Fightin' off a 'skeeter er a flea.

Florida is lovely, she 's de fines' lan'

Evah seed de sunlight f'om de Mastah's

han',

'Ceptin' fu' de varmints an' huh fleas an'

san'

An' de nights w'en Lizy Ann ain' free.

Moon 's a-kinder shaddered on de melon

patch;

No one ain't a-watchin' ez I go.

Climbin' of de fence so 's not to click de

latch

Meks my gittin' in a little slow.

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GEORGIA

***

NOCTURNE: GEORGIA COAST

by Daniel Whitehead Hicky

***

The shrimping boats are late today;

The dusk has caught them cold.

Swift darkness gathers up the sun,

And all the beckoning gold

That guides them safely into port

Is lost beneath the tide.

Now the lean moon swings overhead,

And Venus, salty-eyed.

They will be late an hour or more,

The fishermen, blaming dark's

Swift mischief or the stubborn sea,

But as their lanterns' sparks

Ride shoreward at the foam's white rim,

Until they reach the pier

I cannot say if their catch is shrimp,

Or fireflies burning clear.

 

HAWAII

***

JIGSAW: SECOND NARROWS BRIDGE AT RUSH HOUR

by Sharon Thesen

***

Seamless afternoon to evening across the bridge beyond

across the other bridge curving dark landfall lights

upon the sea, our mother swims backward, Earle Birney

smokes a pipe upon the lookout & pens a line in boots

atomic city below, Aldebaran above

in your eyes Pacific skies take me to paradise please

I want to live

in a little grass shack in Ha-aha-Hawaii

where the hula hula hula goes hucka hucka hucka by

and the hula hula huckity-huckin'

hacka hacka hacka, by

our missing person of the blue mountains

and Liberian freighters, potash proceedings

& queen mattresses at unbelievable prices on the radio

opinions & traffic hell of twilight

continuously heading home

in a dome of judgement and advice, oh caller

with a problem, Dr. Laura says you're slime

and that you are a bum but I say you're some hard part

of the puzzle rigged up by the moon and

feathery evergreen branches

complicated wings full of blue shadows

a foot at least of shimmering ocean each small

notched piece a dark blue mystery.

But who would have the patience?

 

 

IDAHO

***

IDAHO REQUIEM

By Ron McFarland (for Robert Lowell)

***

Out here, we don't talk about culture,

we think we are. We nurtured Ezra Pound

who ran from us like hell

and never came back. You

never came at all. You

will never know how clever

we never are out here.

You never drank red beer.

You never popped a grouse

under a blue spruce just because it was there.

Tell us about Schopenhauer and your friends

and fine old family. We left ours

at the Mississippi, have no names left

to drop. We spend our time

avoiding Californians and waiting

for the sage to bloom, and when it does

we miss the damn things half the time.

When a stranger comes in we smile

and say, "Tell us about yourself."

Then we listen real close.

But you would say, "I've said what I have to say."

Too subtle, perhaps, for a can of beer,

too Augustan for the Snake River breaks.

But how do you know this wasn't just

the place to die? Why not have those

kinfolk ship your bones out here, just

for irony's sake? We keep things plain

and clear because of the mountains.

Our mythology comes down to a logger

stirring his coffee with his thumb.

 

 

ILLINOIS

***

LIVING IN THE MIDDLE

by Dave Etter

***

Here in Alliance, Illinois,

I'm living in the middle,

standing on the Courthouse lawn

in the middle of town,

in the middle of my life,

a self-confessed middlebrow,

a member of the middle class,

and of course Middle Western,

the middle, you see, the middle,

believing in the middle way,

standing here at midday

in the middle of the year,

breathing the farm-fragrant air

of Sunflower County,

in the true-blue middle

of middle America,

in the middle of my dreams.

***************************************************************

INDIANA

***

DEAD CENTER

by Rachel Contreni Flynn

***

August in Indiana:

a heavy moon hung over space

where there was almost nothing

but one big town at dead center.

Grasshoppers popped under tires,

the trees swelled with grackles,

and I amused myself with windmills --

the solitary geometry of glint and spin,

slowing then standing motionless

until the sky raised its dark fist.

The autumn my mother left

a coldness opened . . .

Beans dried to snakes' tails in the fields,

and my chest filled with rust.

In the snow I walked the pastures

in an orange poncho

my father could see from the house.

Once I told him to stop waving at me.

Once I said maybe I’ll just keep walking.

And once I slid the poncho

to the near-frozen middle of Moots Pond

just to watch him run from the house

barefoot and wild.

***************************************************************

IOWA

***

IOWA

By Robbie Klein

***

It never completely gets dark on those back roads.

There are stars, deceptively few.

And velvet consumes and velvet erupts:

the softness is the leaves and the dirt paths and stables and skin. And eyes.

The dark places, the secret places: abrupt, always, fleeting

but indelibly there, like a muscle memory.

The ridiculous and impudent course of years means nothing:

the touch is the same, the taste. Iowa's sweet ground. I close my eyes to the

darkness and fall into it more and awake to the street disappearing into

fields and lost time.

A drive through the cemetery, a different place now

Winding up the hill marking a route in the dark with the pond

To stand breathless at the crest, arms wide open

I chart movements with a cartographer's conscience:

throw open my shirt and open my self to the sky flawed and stitched

and whole

and welcome my mother and forgive my father and

know the slap shock of being born.

***************************************************************

KANSAS

***

CROSSING KANSAS BY TRAIN

By Donald Justice

***

The telephone poles

Have been holding their

Arms out

A long time now

To birds

That will not

Settle there

But pass with

Strange cawings

Westward to

Where dark trees

Gather about a

Water hole this

Is Kansas the

Mountains start here

Just behind

The closed eyes

Of a farmer’s

Sons asleep

In their work clothes

***************************************************************

KENTUCKY

***

AFTER A VISIT

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

***

I be'n down in ole Kentucky

Fur a week er two, an' say,

'Twuz ez hard ez breakin' oxen

Fur to tear myse'f away.

Allus argerin' 'bout fren'ship

An' yer hospitality--

Y'ain't no right to talk about it

Tell you be'n down there to see.

See jest how they give you welcome

To the best that's in the land,

Feel the sort o'grip they give you

When they take you by the hand.

Hear 'em say, "We're glad to have you,

Better stay a week er two;"

An' the way they treat you makes you

Feel that ev'ry word is true.

Feed you tell you hear the buttons

Crackin' on your Sunday vest;

Haul you roun' to see the wonders

Tell you have to cry for rest.

Drink yer health an' pet an' praise you

Tell you git to feel ez great

Ez the Sheriff o' the county

Er the Gov'ner o' the State.

Wife, she sez I must be crazy

'Cause I go on so, an' Nelse

He 'lows, "Goodness gracious! daddy,

Cain't you talk about nuthin' else?"

Well, pleg-gone it, I'm jes tickled,

Bein' tickled ain't no sin;

I've b'en down in ole Kentucky

An' I want o' go ag'in.

***************************************************************

LOUISIANA

***

IN LOUISIANA

by Albert Bigelow Paine

***

The long, gray moss that softly swings

In solemn grandeur from the trees,

Like mournful funeral draperies,--

A brown-winged bird that never sings.

A shallow, stagnant, inland sea,

Where rank swamp grasses wave, and where

A deadliness lurks in the air,--

A sere leaf falling silently.

The death-like calm on every hand,

That one might deem it sin to break,

So pure, so perfect,--these things make

The mournful beauty of this land.

***************************************************************

MAINE

***

MAGIC

By Louis Untermeyer

***

We passed old farmer Boothby in the field.

Rugged and straight he stood; his body steeled

With stubbornness and age. We met his eyes

That never flinched or turned to compromise,

And “Luck,” he cried, “good luck!”—and waved an arm,

Knotted and sailor-like, such as no farm

In all of Maine could boast of ; and away

He turned again to pitch his new-cut hay . . .

We walked on leisurely until a bend

Showed him once more, now working toward the end

Of one great path; wearing his eighty years

Like banners lifted in a wind of cheers.

Then we turned off abruptly—took the road

Cutting the village, the one with the commanding

View of the river. And we strode

More briskly now to the long pier that showed

Where the frail boats were kept at Indian Landing.

In the canoe we stepped; our paddles dipped

Leisurely downwards, and the slim bark slipped

More on than in the water. Smoothly then

We shot its nose against the rippling current,

Feeling the rising river’s half-deterrent

Pull on the paddle as we turned the blade

To keep from swerving round; while we delayed

To watch the curious wave-eaten locks;

Or pass, with lazy turns, the picnic-rocks ....

Blue eels flew under us, and fishes darted

A thousand ways; the once broad channel shrunk.

And over us the wise and noble-hearted

Twilight leaned down; the sunset mists were parted,—

And we, with thoughts on tiptoe, slunk

Down the green, twisting alleys of the Kennebunk,

Motionless in the meadows

The trees, the rocks, the cows. . .

And quiet dripped from the shadows

Like rain from heavy boughs.

The tree-toads started ringing

Their ceaseless silver bells;

A land-locked breeze came swinging

Its censer of earthy smells.

The river’s tiny cañon

Stretched into dusky lands;

Like a dark and silent companion

Evening held out her hands.

Hushed were the dawn’s bravados;

Loud noon was a silenced cry—

And quiet slipped from the shadows

As stars slip out of the sky. . .

It must have been an hour more, or later,

When, tramping homeward through the piney wood,

We felt the years fly back; the brotherhood

Of forests took us—and we saw the satyr!

There in a pool, up to his neck, he stood

And grinned to see us stare, incredulous—

Too startled to remember fear or flight.

Feeling the menace in the crafty night,

We turned to run—when lo, he called to us!

Using our very names he called. We drew

With creaking courage down the avenue

Of birches till we saw, with clearing sight,

(No longer through a tricky, pale-green light)

Familiar turns and shrubs, the friendly path,—

And Farmer Boothby in his woodland bath!

The woods became his background; every tree

Seemed part of him, and stood erect, and shared

The beauty of that gnarled serenity;

The quiet vigor of age that smiled and squared

Its shoulders against Time . . . And even night

Flowed in and out of him, as though content

With such a native element;

Happy to move about a spirit quite

As old, as placid and as confident . . .

Sideways we turned. Still glistening and unclad

He leaped up on the bank, light as a lad,

His body in the moonlight dripping stars. . .

We went on homeward, through the pasture-bars.

***************************************************************

MARYLAND

***

BARBARA FRIETCHIE

John Greenleaf Whittier

***

Up from the meadows rich with corn,

Clear in the cool September morn,

The clustered spires of Frederick stand

Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,

Apple- and peach-tree fruited deep,

Fair as a garden of the Lord

To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall

When Lee marched over the mountain wall,—

Over the mountains winding down,

Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

Forty flags with their silver stars,

Forty flags with their crimson bars,

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun

Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,

Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

Bravest of all in Frederick town,

She took up the flag the men hauled down;

In her attic window the staff she set,

To show that one heart was loyal yet.

Up the street came the rebel tread,

Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

Under his slouched hat left and right

He glanced: the old flag met his sight.

“Halt!”— the dust-brown ranks stood fast.

“Fire!”— out blazed the rifle-blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash;

It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff

Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;

She leaned far out on the window-sill,

And shook it forth with a royal will.

“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,

But spare your country’s flag,” she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,

Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred

To life at that woman’s deed and word:

“Who touches a hair of yon gray head

Dies like a dog! March on!” he said.

All day long through Frederick street

Sounded the tread of marching feet:

All day long that free flag tost

Over the heads of the rebel host.

Ever its torn folds rose and fell

On the loyal winds that loved it well;

And through the hill-gaps sunset light

Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie’s work is o’er,

And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.

Honor to her! and let a tear

Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall’s bier.

Over Barbara Frietchie’s grave

Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

Peace and order and beauty draw

Round thy symbol of light and law;

And ever the stars above look down

On thy stars below in Frederick town!

***************************************************************

MASSACHUSETTS

***************************************************************

MICHIGAN

***

DRUM

By Philip Levine

***

In the early morning before the shop

opens, men standing out in the yard

on pine planks over the umber mud.

The oil drum, squat, brooding, brimmed

with metal scraps, three-armed crosses,

silver shavings whitened with milky oil,

drill bits bitten off. The light diamonds

last night's rain; inside a buzzer purrs.

The overhead door stammers upward

to reveal the scene of our day.

We sit

for lunch on crates before the open door.

Bobeck, the boss's nephew, squats to hug

the overflowing drum, gasps and lifts. Rain

comes down in sheets staining his gun-metal

covert suit. A stake truck sloshes off

as the sun returns through a low sky.

By four the office help has driven off. We

sweep, wash up, punch out, collect outside

for a final smoke. The great door crashes

down at last.

In the darkness the scents

of mint, apples, asters. In the darkness

this could be a Carthaginian outpost sent

to guard the waters of the West, those mounds

could be elephants at rest, the acrid half light

the haze of stars striking armor if stars were out.

On the galvanized tin roof the tunes of sudden rain.

The slow light of Friday morning in Michigan,

the one we waited for, shows seven hills

of scraped earth topped with crab grass,

weeds, a black oil drum empty, glistening

at the exact center of the modern world.

***************************************************************

MINNESOTA

***************************************************************

MISSISSIPPI

***

ON THE MISSISSIPPI

By Hamlin Garland

***

Through wild and tangled forests

The broad, unhasting river flows--

Spotted with rain-drops, gray with night;

Upon its curving breast there goes

A lonely steamboat's larboard light,

A blood-red star against the shadowy oaks;

Noiseless as a ghost, through greenish gleam

Of fire-flies, before the boat's wild scream--

A heron flaps away

Like silence taking flight.

***************************************************************

MISSOURI

***************************************************************

MONTANA

***

ONCE IN THE 40S

By William Stafford

***

We were alone one night on a long

road in Montana. This was in winter, a big

night, far to the stars. We had hitched,

my wife and I, and left our ride at

a crossing to go on. Tired and cold--but

brave--we trudged along. This, we said,

was our life, watched over, allowed to go

where we wanted. We said we'd come back some time

when we got rich. We'd leave the others and find

a night like this, whatever we had to give,

and no matter how far, to be so happy again.

***************************************************************

NEBRASKA

***

SHAKING IN THE GRASS

By Janice N. Harrington

***

Evening, and all my ghosts come back to me

like red banty hens to catalpa limbs

and chicken-wired hutches, clucking, clucking,

and falling, at last, into their head-under-wing sleep.

I think about the field of grass I lay in once,

between Omaha and Lincoln. It was summer, I think.

The air smelled green, and wands of windy green, a-sway,

a-sway, swayed over me. I lay on green sod

like a prairie snake letting the sun warm me.

What does a girl think about alone

in a field of grass, beneath a sky as bright

as an Easter dress, beneath a green wind?

Maybe I have not shaken the grass.

All is vanity.

Maybe I never rose from that green field.

All is vanity.

Maybe I did no more than swallow deep, deep breaths

and spill them out into story: all is vanity.

Maybe I listened to the wind sighing and shivered,

spinning, awhirl amidst the bluestem

and green lashes: O my beloved! O my beloved!

I lay in a field of grass once, and then went on.

Even the hollow my body made is gone.

***************************************************************

NEVADA

***

DRIVING TO VEGAS

By Kirk Robertson

***

Tonopah's

the only place

contour lines

appear

to rise

between there

and Goldfield

the first

Joshua trees

beer at the Mozart Club

from then on

it's all downhill

between Mercury

and Indian Springs

the light

begins to change

you wonder

what you'll do

when you reach

the edge

of the map

out there

on the horizon

all that neon

beckoning you

in from the dark

***************************************************************

NEW HAMPSHIRE

***

NATURAL CAUSES

By Mark Cox

***

Because my son saw the round hay bales--

1200 pounds apiece, shrink-wrapped in white plastic--

lining the fields,

we have had to search all evening

for marshmallows.

Two stores were out. Another

had one stale and shrunken bag.

The fourth had three bags, but no wood for fire,

so we went back to the first.

And I needed newspaper to start the kindling,

which is how I know Earl Softy died Monday,

at home, in his sleep, of natural causes. So rarely

we know how we know what we know.

Don't turn the page. Sit with us awhile,

here by the fire in New Hampshire.

Have a marshmallow.

Because my wife and I love each other

and wanted something of, and more than, ourselves;

because my little son has imagined heaven in the pasture land,

even death tastes sweet.

***************************************************************

NEW JERSEY

***************************************************************

NEW MEXICO

***************************************************************

NEW YORK

***

COPPERHEADS

By E.M. Schorb

***

The New York Draft Riots

Vanish these walls, vanish this wealth, with visionary eyes that see

back to hot July 1863. Vanish where wealth shines shopping on Fifth

Avenue, five minutes from the lion-braced library, where I turn down

my book. Vanish these great, gray walls, to see when this mirage

was another, of a white-winged building housing motherless humanity.

Try to see out of the eyes of two hundred frightened black orphans

and their saviors, or, better, the eyes of one little girl under her bed,

who is to be beaten to sleep and burned alive. They come now, the

first,

malignant rumble of mobs is heard. A giant, bearing a huge American

flag,

appears. Ten thousand men and women follow. They shout: NO

DRAFT;

shout: KILL THE NIGGERS! One mob of ten thousand, among

many mobs,

one mad mob, is coming; Copperheads coming; but Mary doesn't

know

what they are. Snakes, she is told; and, people like snakes. Snakes?

What does it mean? But behind them the sky is red, as if the sun had

set in broad day, as if it had hit the earth and bounced back to the

sky

in cones of flame, like upward teeth, serrating the downward, hot blue.

The fireworks for the Fourth, a week before, had shaken her.

Looking everywhere, she saw no arms to hold her. BOOM BOOM!

Now again--BOOM BOOM! But this is wilder, worse. She caps her

ears,

her eyes rolling for a mother, while the giant bearing Old

Glory juts

his lantern jaw toward the white-winged building where she hides

terror

in tears, holding her braided, ribboned head as, between her ten-year-old

fingers, distorted clangor of malignant mob-voice penetrates with

curses and screams of coves and harpies, liquored-up looters, drink-mad,

blood-mouthed molls, ill-wind-shifted, now, toward Mary in the white-

winged

Colored Orphan Asylum on Fifth Avenue, the ghost-building, inside tall

wealth, that I can reach in five minutes from this great, gray library,

close my book and walk out into the Fifth Avenue festival of limousines

and be inside of its smoldering, ectoplasmic doors with the orphan

children,

who are always poorest, with Mary, who hides under her bed, her eyes

spraying terror, shutting her ears to the Fourth of July or, now,

a week later, to the flag-bearing giant leading a mob through the present

affluent Fifth Avenue shoppers to BOOM BOOM KILL THE

NIGGERS

NO DRAFT KILL, outside the library window on Fifth Avenue,

inside of,

behind, through, the tremendous modern traffc stalled at red, frustrated,

Manhattan-honking. KILL! Mary sees feet, fast feet. She doesn't

understand that the children are being herded out to safety, to

Blackwell's Island on the East River. Mary sees feet

scurry by her bed, sees a watery world, like one submerged, when she

looks out. Then, above her bed, something huge and malignant appears,

something too big. An evil thing! She will not come out from under,

she will

not, as the white-winged building shakes like her body with battering

and the doors are pulled from their hinges. Mary tries to find her

mother

inside of herself, and finds an entrance and a dark hall. She goes in,

finds herself upright, her legs steady under her. She pats the bodice

of her pink dress, straightens her pink ribbon--for she knows her

mother

waits at the end of the dark hall--as the giant lifts her to the sky--

knows a door will open at the end of the dark hall--and dashes

her ten-

year-old body down, Great doors open, her mother shimmers with

beauty,

with long, strong, brown open arms. In fury at his loss, the giant howls

after the escaping orphans, and flames rise up around him as he moves,

touching, touching the pitiful beds of orphans, touching and torching,

his small mad head hissing, spitting curses upon Lincoln, the top-

hatted ape, and Greeley, and niggers, niggers, for his tongue would

fork

with curses if it could, as the white-winged asylum crumbles

in flames inside of the facades of now with its BEEP BEEP of

prosperity.

As if the great library walls had vanished, as if the market values

of now,

with their multi-millions of construction, were transparent, there

stands the Colored Orphan Asylum, and there inside is Mary, hiding

under

her bed. Mary and the flag-bearing giant. Mary and the mad mob.

I lean

back in my library chair and push up my glasses. I am trying to see

more

clearly. I think I don't understand any more than Mary did,

as the lion-braced library walls form around me again, shutting

me off

from my shopping, struggling fellow Americans on Fifth Avenue,

outside,

who cannot see the white-winged Colored Orphan Asylum as they

pass it.

But I know that all hurts must be outlived as humanity presses forward.

***************************************************************

NORTH CAROLINA

***************************************************************

NORTH DAKOTA

***************************************************************

OHIO

***

BEYOND EVEN THIS

By Maggie Anderson

***

Who would have thought the afterlife would

look so much like Ohio? A small town place,

thickly settled among deciduous trees.

I lived for what seemed a very short time.

Several things did not work out.

Casually almost, I became another one

of the departed, but I had never imagined

the tunnel of hot wind that pulls

the newly dead into the dry Midwest

and plants us like corn. I am

not alone, but I am restless.

There is such sorrow in these geese

flying over, trying to find a place to land

in the miles and miles of parking lots

that once were soft wetlands. They seem

as puzzled as I am about where to be.

Often they glide, in what I guess is

a consultation with each other,

getting their bearings, as I do when

I stare out my window and count up

what I see. It's not much really:

one buckeye tree, three white frame houses,

one evergreen, five piles of yellow leaves.

This is not enough for any heaven I had

dreamed, but I am taking the long view.

There must be a backcountry of the beyond,

beyond even this and farther out,

past the dark smoky city on the shore

of Lake Erie, through the landlocked passages

to the Great Sweetwater Seas.

***************************************************************

OKLAHOMA

***

CICADA

By John Blair

***

A youngest brother turns seventeen with a click as good as a roar,

finds the door and is gone.

You listen for that small sound, hear a memory.

The air-raid sirens howled of summer tornadoes, the sound

thrown back against the scattered thumbs

of grain silos and the open Oklahoma plains

like the warning wail of insects.

Repudiation is fast like a whirlwind.

Only children don't know that all you live is leaving.

Yes, the first knowledge that counts is that everything stops.

Even in the bible-belt, second comings are promises

you never really believed;

so you turn and walk into the embrace of the world

as you would to a woman, an arrant

an orphic movement as shocking as the subtle

animal pulse of a flower opening, palm up.

We are all so helpless.

I can look at my wife's full form now

and hope for children,

picture her figured by the weight of babies.

Only, it's still so much like trying to find something

once lost. My brother felt the fullness of his years, the pull

in the gut that's almost sickness. His white

smooth face is gone into living and fierce illusion,

a journey dissolute and as immutable

as the whining heat of summer.

Soon enough, too soon, momentum just isn't enough.

Our tragedy is to live in a world

that doesn't invite us back.

We slow, find ourselves sitting in a room that shifts so slightly

we can only imagine the difference.

I want to tell him to listen.

I want to tell him what it is to crave darkness,

to want to crawl headfirst into a dirt-warm womb

to sleep, to wait seventeen years,

to emerge again.

***************************************************************

OREGON

***************************************************************

PENNSYLVANIA

***

RETURNING NATIVE

by John Updike

***

What can you say about Pennsylvania

in regard to New England except that

it is slightly less cold, and less rocky,

or rather that the rocks are different?

Redder, and gritty, and piled up here and there,

whether as glacial moraine or collapsed springhouse

is not easy to tell, so quickly

are human efforts bundled back into nature.

In fall, the trees turn yellower—

hard maple, hickory, and oak

give way to tulip poplar, black walnut,

and locust. The woods are overgrown

with wild-grape vines, and with greenbrier

spreading its low net of anxious small claws.

In warm November, the mulching forest floor

smells like a rotting animal.

A genial pulpiness, in short: the sky

is soft with haze and paper-gray

even as the sun shines, and the rain

falls soft on the shoulders of farmers

while the children keep on playing,

their heads of hair beaded like spider webs.

A deep-dyed blur softens the bleak cities

whose people palaver in prolonged vowels.

There is a secret here, some death-defying joke

the eyes, the knuckles, the bellies imply—

a suet of consolation fetched straight

from the slaughterhouse and hung out

for chickadees to peck in the lee of the spruce,

where the husks of sunflower seeds

and the peace-signs of bird feet crowd

the snow that barely masks the still-green grass.

I knew that secret once, and have forgotten.

The death-defying secret—it rises

toward me like a dog’s gaze, loving

but bewildered. When winter sits cold and black

on Boston’s granite hills, in Philly,

slumped between its two polluted rivers,

warmth’s shadow leans close to the wall

and gets the cement to deliver a kiss.

***************************************************************

RHODE ISLAND

***

JERIMOTH HILL

By Tom Chandler

***

You will not recognize any bald knob of granite

or sheer cliff face silhouetted against clouds,

in fact, you won't realize you're anywhere at all

except by this bullet-riddled sign by the road

that curves through these scraggled third growth

woods that was once a grove of giant pines

that were cut down for masts that were used

to build ships to sail away to the rest of the world

from the docks of Providence Harbor, their holds

filled with wool from the sheep that grazed

in the field that had once been the giant pines

till the shepherds died off and the applers took over

and grew orchards of Cortlands and Macintosh

Delicious to fill the holds of the ships that sailed

to the rest of the world from the docks of Providence

Harbor with masts made from the giant pines till

the orchards moved west along with everything

else to less glacial land and the fields became

overgrowth of berries and hobblebush crisscrossed

by walls made of stones that had slept beneath

one inch of topsoil for twelve thousand years

till the settlers found when they tried to plant crops

that this was a country that grew only rocks which

they made into walls to pen in the sheep that provided

the wool that filled the holds of the ships that sailed

to the rest of the world from the docks of Providence Harbor.

***************************************************************

SOUTH CAROLINA

***

SOUTH CAROLINA MORNING

by Yusef Komunyakaa

***

Her red dress & hat

tease the sky’s level-

headed blue. Outside

a country depot,

she could be a harlot

or saint on Sunday

morning. We know

Hopper could slant

light till it falls

on our faces. She waits

for a tall blues singer

whose twelve-string is

hours out of hock,

for a pullman porter

with a pigskin wallet

bulging with greenbacks,

who stepped out of Porgy

at intermission. This is

paradise made of pigment

& tissue, where apples

ripen into rage & lust.

In a quick glance,

beyond skincolor,

she’s his muse, his wife—

the same curves

to her stance, the same

breasts beneath summer cloth.

 

 

TENNESSEE

***

ANECDOTE OF THE JAR

By Wallace Stevens

***

I placed a jar in Tennessee,

And round it was, upon a hill.

It made the slovenly wilderness

Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,

And sprawled around, no longer wild.

The jar was round upon the ground

And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion everywhere.

The jar was gray and bare.

It did not give of bird or bush,

Like nothing else in Tennessee.

 

 

TEXAS

***

HEART

By Catherine Bowman

***

Old fang-in-the-boot trick. Five-chambered

asp. Pit organ and puff adder. Can live

in any medium save ice. Charmed by the flute

or the first thunderstorm in spring, drowsy

heart stirs from the cistern, the hibernaculum,

the wintering den of stars. Smells like the cucumber

served chilled on chipped Blue Willow. Her garden

of clings, sugars, snaps, and strings. Her creamy breasts

we called pillows and her bird legs and fat fingers

covered with diamonds from the mines in Africa.

The smell of cucumber.... Her mystery roses....

Heading out Bandera to picnic and pick corn,

the light so expert that for miles

you can tell a turkey vulture

from a hawk by the quiver in the wing.

Born on April Fools’, died on Ground Hog’s,

he pulls over not to piss but to blow away

any diamondback unlucky enough to be

on the road between San Antonio and Cotulla.

Squinting from the back of the pickup

into chrome and sun and shotgun confection,

my five boy cousins who love me more

than all of Texas and drink my spit

from a bottle of Big Red on a regular basis

know what the bejeweled and the gun-loading

have long since forgotten. And that is:

Snakes don’t die. They just play dead. The heart

exposed to so many scrapes, bruises, burns,

and bites sheds its skin, sprouts wings and fl ies,

becomes the two-for-one sparkler on

the Fourth of July, becomes what’s slung between

azure and cornfield: the horizon.

***************************************************************

UTAH

***

TWELVE UTAH CHRISTMASES (A PARODY)

***

On my first Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

Popcorn popping on the apricot tree

On my second Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

Two years on a mission

And the Smart family on my TV

On my third Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

Three Degrees of Glory

Two years in Australia

And a First Amendment controver-sy

On my fourth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

4-A high school roundball

Three Sunday meetings

Two years in Korea

And that business with the SLOC

On my fifth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

FIVE-QUART ICE CREAMS

Four firing squads

Three scrapbooks

Two years in Peru

And a movie that's G or PG

On my sixth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

Six kids and counting

FIVE YEARS OF DROUGHT

Four quilting bees

Three meth labs

Two years in Japan

And a reservoir that's almost emp-ty

On my seventh Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

Seven singing Osmonds

Six kids and counting

FIVE TOM GREEN WIVES

Forbidden love

Three spudnuts

Two years in Brazil

And a single poli-tickle par-ty

On my eighth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

Eight cups of Postum

Seven kids and counting

Six beehive hairdos

FIVE MONTHS OF SNOW

Forty private clubs (for members)

Three-two beer

Two years in Taiwan

And a salty lake that's really stink-y

On my ninth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

Nine percent minorities

Eight kids and counting

Seventies in Conference

Sixteen to start dating

FIVE FEET OF SLUSH (Oh my heck!)

Forgeries for sale

Three-piece suits

Two years in Ukraine

And a fiancée in Happy Vall-ey

On my tenth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

Ten bucks for parking

Nine kids and counting

Eight missing off-ramps

Seven guns per person

Six famous golfers

UTAH BY FIVE

Fourteen ski resorts

Three fault lines

Two years in Detroit

And a minivan or SUV (or both, plus a station wagon)

On my eleventh Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

Eleven Mormon temples

Ten kids and counting

Nine NuSkin neighbors

Ate at Chuck-a-Rama

Theven thpecial thpiritth

Six Jell-o salads

FIVE ORRIN TERMS (Oh my Hatch!)

Forecast is cold

Three Eubanks (three?)

Two years in Tibet

And an uncompleted Lega-cy

(Highway)

On my twelfth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me

Twelve-year-old deacons

Eleven kids and counting

Ten percent tithing

Nine zillion seagulls

Ate a bunch of crickets

Seven Peaks in Provo

Six hours to Vegas

FIVE PRO SPORTS TEAMS (if you count indoor football)

Four standard works

Three Nephites

Tooele ROCKS!

And a Robert Lund Christmas CD!

(Elves Gone Wild!)

***************************************************************

VERMONT

***

IF YOU GET THERE BEFORE I DO

By Dick Allen

***

Air out the linens, unlatch the shutters on the eastern side,

and maybe find that deck of Bicycle cards

lost near the sofa. Or maybe walk around

and look out the back windows first.

I hear the view's magnificent: old silent pines

leading down to the lakeside, layer upon layer

of magnificent light. Should you be hungry,

I'm sorry but there's no Chinese takeout,

only a General Store. You passed it coming in,

but you probably didn't notice its one weary gas pump

along with all those Esso cans from decades ago.

If you're somewhat confused, think Vermont,

that state where people are folded into the mountains

like berries in batter. . . . What I'd like when I get there

is a few hundred years to sit around and concentrate

on one thing at a time. I'd start with radiators

and work my way up to Meister Eckhart,

or why do so few people turn their lives around, so many

take small steps into what they never do,

the first weeks, the first lessons,

until they choose something other,

beginning and beginning their lives,

so never knowing what it's like to risk

last minute failure. . . .I'd save blue for last. Klein blue,

or the blue of Crater Lake on an early June morning.

That would take decades. . . .Don't forget

to sway the fence gate back and forth a few times

just for its creaky sound. When you swing in the tire swing

make sure your socks are off. You've forgotten, I expect,

the feeling of feet brushing the tops of sunflowers:

In Vermont, I once met a ski bum on a summer break

who had followed the snows for seven years and planned

on at least seven more. We're here for the enjoyment of it, he said,

to salaam into joy. . . .I expect you'll find

Bibles scattered everywhere, or Talmuds, or Qur'ans,

as well as little snippets of gospel music, chants,

old Advent calendars with their paper doors still open.

You might pay them some heed. Don't be alarmed

when what's familiar starts fading, as gradually

you lose your bearings,

your body seems to turn opaque and then transparent,

until finally it's invisible--what old age rehearses us for

and vacations in the limbo of the Middle West.

Take it easy, take it slow. When you think I'm on my way,

the long middle passage done,

fill the pantry with cereal, curry, and blue and white boxes of macaroni, place the checkerboard set, or chess if you insist,

out on the flat-topped stump beneath the porch's shadow,

pour some lemonade into the tallest glass you can find in the cupboard,

then drum your fingers, practice lifting your eyebrows,

until you tell them all--the skeptics, the bigots, blind neighbors,

those damn-with-faint-praise critics on their hobbyhorses--

that I'm allowed,

and if there's a place for me that love has kept protected,

I'll be coming, I'll be coming too.

 

 

VIRGINIA

 

 

WASHINGTON

***

ROLL ON, COLUMBIA, ROLL ON

by Woody Guthrie

***

Roll on, Columbia, roll on

Roll on, Columbia, roll on

Your power is turning our darkness to dawn

So roll on, Columbia, roll on.

Green Douglas firs where the waters cut through

Down her wild mountains and canyons she flew

Canadian Northwest to the oceans so blue

Roll on Columbia, roll on

Other great rivers add power to you

Yakima, Snake, and the Klickitat, too

Sandy Willamette and Hood River too

So roll on, Columbia, roll on

Tom Jefferson’s vision would not let him rest

An empire he saw in the Pacific Northwest

Sent Lewis and Clark and they did the rest

So roll on, Columbia, roll on

It’s there on your banks that we fought many a fight

Sheridan’s boys in the blockhouse that night

They saw us in death but never in flight

So roll on Columbia, roll on

At Bonneville now there are ships in the locks

The waters have risen and cleared all the rocks

Shiploads of plenty will steam past the docks

So roll on, Columbia, roll on

And on up the river is Grand Coulee Dam

The mightiest thing ever built by a man

To run the great factories and water the land

So roll on, Columbia, roll on

These mighty men labored by day and by night

Matching their strength ‘gainst the river’s wild flight

Through rapids and falls, they won the hard fight. 

Above photo credit: npr.org
Below photo credit: stuartstotts.com

in loving memory poems 

WISCONSIN

***

THE FOREST IS A PLACE WHERE WE ALL LIVE

by Stuart Stotts

***

Look down from an airplane, I'll tell you what you'll see.

From Madison to Menasha, Marinette to Menomonie

The great state of Wisconsin filled with trees.

The forest is a place for you and me

From the little bitty willow to the bur oak tree.

From the city to the country it will grow and give

The forest is the place where we all live.

It gives us boards and paper, it gives us shade and heat.

Makes oxygen for us to breathe and makes maple syrup sweet.

A place to climb and dream and swing our feet.

Home for hawks and badgers, home for deer and owls.

Hear woodpeckers tapping, and the black bear when it growls.

Listen as the distant wolf pack howls.

100 years before us, the pines had fallen fast.

Stumps decaying, wildfires raging through the piles of slash

We have learned some lessons from the past.

We'll plant trees where we need them and manage them with care.

Let the woods reseed itself, as it does everywhere.

A greener world for everyone to share.

 

 

Below photo credit: rugusavay.com

WEST VIRGINIA

***

WEST VIRGINIA

by Louise McNeill

***

Where the mountain river flows

And the rhododendron grows

Is the land of all the lands

That I touch with tender hands;

Loved and treasured, earth and star,

By my father’s father far–

Deep-earth, black-earth, of-the-lime

From the ancient oceans’ time.

Plow-land, fern-land, woodland, shade,

Grave-land where my kin are laid,

West Virginia’s hills to bless–

Leafy songs of wilderness;

Dear land, near land, here at home–

Where the rocks are honeycomb,

And the rhododendrons …..

Where the mountain river runs.

 

 

  

WYOMING

***

MORNING NEWS IN THE BIGHORN MOUNTAINS

by William Notter

***

The latest movie star is drunk in spite of rehab,

two or three cities had extraordinary killings

and expensive homes are sliding off the hills

or burning again. There's an energy crisis on,

and peace in the Middle East is close as ever.

In Wyoming, just below timberline,

meteors and lightning storms

keep us entertained at night. Last week,

a squirrel wrecked the mountain bluebirds' nest.

I swat handfuls of moths in the cabin

and set them out each day,

but the birds will not come back to feed.

It snowed last in June, four inches

the day before the solstice. But summer

is winding down -- the grass was frosted

this morning when we left the ranger station.

Yellow-bellied marmots are burrowing

under the outhouse vault, and ravens have left the ridges

to gorge on Mormon crickets in the meadows.

Flakes of obsidian and red flint

knapped from arrowheads hundreds of years ago

appear in the trails each day,

and the big fish fossil in the limestone cliff

dissolves a little more with every rain.



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