Exit Glacier, from American Life in Poetry

41v1g3LottL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_If you don’t subscribe to American Life in Poetry, I suggest you do. You get a wonderful poem each week, with brief remarks from Ted Kooser, the former United States Poet Laureate.

American Life in Poetry: Column 719

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

The glaciers that flattened my part of the world made their exit eons ago, but in Alaska, where Peggy Shumaker lives and writes, they’re just now beginning to turn back. Only deep in a Nebraska snowbank can you shovel your way into the blue she describes at the end of this poem, from her new and selected poems, Cairn, from Red Hen Press.

 

Exit Glacier

When we got close enough
we could hear

rivers inside the ice
heaving splits

the groaning of a ledge
about to

calve. Strewn in the moraine
fresh moose sign—
tawny oblong pellets
breaking up

sharp black shale. In one breath
ice and air—

history, the record
of breaking—

prophecy, the warning
of what’s yet to break

out from under
four stories

of bone-crushing turquoise
retreating.

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We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Peggy Shumaker, “Exit Glacier,” from Cairn: New and Selected, (Red Hen Press, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Peggy Shumaker and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2018 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.
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American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: American Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. There are no costs for reprinting the columns; we do require that you register your publication here and that the text of the column be reproduced without alteration.

American Life in Poetry: Animal Time

sandhills-windmillFrom American Life in Poetry, a delightful weekly poetry selection curated by former poet laureate Ted Kooser.

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Kooser: “Twenty years ago my wife and I had visitors from New York, and their car broke down on a country road about a mile from our home. One of them panicked because there were no phone booths from which to call for help. Nebraska is a place where there can be a lot of room between one land-line and the next. Carol V. Davis of California did a residency at Homestead National Monument, and this is one of the poems that came out of it.”

Animal Time

I do better in animal time,
a creeping dawn, slow ticking toward dusk.
In the middle of the day on the Nebraska prairie,
I’m unnerved by subdued sounds, as if listening
through water, even the high-pitched drone of the
cicadas faint; the blackbirds half-heartedly singing.
As newlyweds, my parents drove cross country to
Death Valley, last leg of their escape from New York,
the thick soups of their immigrant mothers, generations
of superstitions that squeezed them from all sides.
They camped under stars that meant no harm.
It was the silence that alerted them to danger.
They climbed back into their tiny new car, locked
its doors and blinked their eyes until daylight.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by Carol V. Davis, “Animal Time,” from Harpur Palate, (Vol. 13, No. 1, summer/fall 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Carol V. Davis and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

American Life in Poetry: Motor Lodge

Reno015From American Life in Poetry, a delightful weekly poetry selection curated by former poet laureate Ted Kooser.

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Kooser: “The following is just one of three fine poems John Drury, who lives and teaches in Ohio, has written about the summer jobs he had when young. Many of us have thought, with him, “So this is experience,” though we might have added a question mark. His most recent book of poems is Sea Level Rising, published by Able Muse Press.”

Motor Lodge

“So this is it, experience,” I thought,
lugging tin buckets from the ice machines
to rooms of real adults with cigarettes,
mixed drinks in plastic cups, and proffered coins.

I reached out for their blessings, but the tips
were nothing next to rumpled, unmade beds
at four in the afternoon, women in slips
and men in t-shirts while the TV played.

Down in the laundry room, I counted sheets,
stunned by the musk that vanished in the wash,
and balled up soggy towels that down the chutes
exploded in bins. Before the evening rush,

avid and timid for what I glimpsed at work,
I left, hanging my gold vest on a hook.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2000 by John Philip Drury, “Motor Lodge,” from The Disappearing Town, (Miami University Press, 2000). Poem reprinted by permission of John Drury and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

American Life in Poetry: Doing Laundry in Budapest

From American Life in Poetry, a delightful weekly poetry selection curated by former poet laureate Ted Kooser.

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Kooser: “One of the first uses of language must surely have been to tell others what happened beyond the firelight, out in the forest. And poems that do just that seem wonderfully natural and human to me. Here’s Anya Krugovoy Silver telling us something that happened far from home. She lives and teaches in Georgia.”

Doing Laundry In Budapest
by Anya Krugovoy

The dryer, uniform and squat as a biscuit tin,
came to life and turned on me its insect eye.
My t-shirts and underwear crackled and leapt.
I was a tourist there; I didn’t speak the language.
My shoulders covered themselves up in churches,
my tongue soothed its burn with slices of pickle.
More I don’t remember: only, weekends now
when I stand in the kitchen, sorting sweat pants
and pairing socks, I remember the afternoon
I did my laundry in Budapest, where the sidewalks
bloomed with embroidered linen, where money
wasn’t permitted to leave the country.
When I close my eyes, I recall that spinning,
then a woman, with nothing else to sell,
pressing wilted flowers in my hands.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2014 by Anya Krugovoy Silver, “Doing Laundry in Budapest,” from I Watched You Disappear: Poems, (Louisiana State Univ. Press, 2014). Poem reprinted by permission of Anya Krugovoy Silver and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

American Life in Poetry

If you don’t know about it, please visit American Life in Poetry, which is a delightful weekly poetry selection curated by former poet laureate Ted Kooser. I have used these poems in class, though not systematically (though perhaps I should). You can visit the site directly, subscribe by email, and/or follow it on Facebook. They allow republication of the poems with attribution. In blogs past, I was fairly good about republishing them, but I can’t promise that I always will. Here is this week’s, with Ted’s pithy introduction.

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A poem whose subject needs no introduction! Melissa Balmain lives in New York State, and her most recent book is Walking in on People, from Able Muse Press.

Nightmare

Your TV cable’s on the fritz.
Your Xbox is corroded.
Your iPod sits in useless bits.
Your Game Boy just imploded.

Your cell phone? Static’s off the scale.
Your land line? Disconnected.
You’ve got no mail—E, junk or snail.
Your hard drive is infected.

So here you idle, dumb and blue,
with children, spouse and mother—
and wish you knew what people do
to entertain each other.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2014 by Melissa Balmain, “Nightmare,” from Walking in on People, (Able Muse Press, 2014). Poem reprinted by permission of Melissa Balmain and Able Muse Press. Introduction copyright © 2015 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.