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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Four Poems Read at the Troubador

Minneapolis
Ice and Snow

When I was a child winter came strong, and took away half of the year
Snow fell from November to March, falling from the gray sky. It covered everything...
We walked, and tromped, and stumbled through the drifts
We took hold of the bumpers of school busses skitching on the icy streets
In the Snowbound restive city, stirring quietly on the frozen plain


Snowfall ushers in a hush, broken only by the industrial tones of winter’s music
The rhythm of a shovel, cold and harsh, making long strokes against concrete
Ice choppers pounding out the beat, sharp blades scrape ice from windshields
In short staccato bursts

A crystal coat covers everything in the morning after a freezing rain, awakening
The groaning, and whining of cold engines; the grinding, and grinding, and maybe
Turning over, those long winters are uncommon now, almost forgotten
The high pitched squeal of spinning wheels slipping in the snow, and ice beneath the rubber
Tread, no grip, no traction, just push, breathe, and heave

Everyone retreated from the cold, curling up in the hollows of their homes
For the long parched nights in the dry, dry heat, chaffing skin, cracking lips, chapped
And brittle as the shell of life, hard winters in the slumber of womb,
Recall the heat of summer, longing for the green walk along the alphabet streets
From Aldrich to Knox and cool relief of water


Isles – Winter (Poem I)
Drought

It was dry in 1987, the whole city was dry
The drought began that winter
Hardly a flake of snow fell, before
The lake froze solid, smooth as glass
Untarnished by the crust snow-melt forms

The dark-glass lake sparkled in the glow
Of the sun-falling, pink as a rose dropping
From the horizon, with an ominous beauty
Beneath my feet, the maw of a Titan
Held captive by the earth

In spring the lake in rings with birdsong
And liquid laughter lifting off the waves
In the dead of winter it moans, beware
I never heard that voice so clearly
Un-muffled by winter’s snow blanket

Fish watch the silhouettes of people, city kids
Shadows, running, sliding on the surface
Above the cold and frozen dome of their world
The freezing deep recalls the memory of glaciers


Loring – Winter (Poem III)
Children of the North

The park is quiet in winter, hushed
People walk the quick step, skip
Through the plowed paths, slip
Cut between snow banks, braced
Against the wind
Bundled parkas, pea coats, scarves
Bundles of books in backpacks, bags
Briefcases, filled with papers
The park is not a place to linger
In January, with the wind howling
From the North through the last line
Of skyscrapers, into the open spaces
Over the frozen pond
The asphalt paths are slick, with ice
Snow packed and pressed, and people
Trek along them, nevertheless on bikes
On foot, in their winter gear, fly over
The winter fields
They have no fear, they are not looking
To escape the cold, playing through
The freezing days, in the water city frozen
Such are the children of the North

Family (Poem) -Immigrant

I am from Iceland
A different Iceland than Minnesota
From my grandmother’s Iceland
Where her father was born
From an island with no trees
He left for the fertile farm

I am from Norway and Sweden,
Where my father’s, father’s mother
and my mother’s, mother’s father
Were born, and borne on an immigrant tide
Forgoing their fjords For a city of lakes
Of streams reflecting the sky

Sparkling…bright Minneapolis
Is where I am from
I love to fly over her glittering in the sun

I am from Ireland
From where my mother’s, father’s, father
Hailed, the poet in me must have travelled

With him, From Erin to St. Louis

Across the prairie, He was married

To an orphaned girl, by mail

They wed us to this place


I am from a city of green parks and water
Sometimes blue, at other times gray
Water you can walk on, or drive a truck on
Several months of the year

Longfellow wrote his epic here
Hiawatha, Nokomis…Minnehaha
Flow the light, and laughing waters
I love sleeping on your banks, basking
At your shores

I am from public schools, public libraries
And forests preserved for the public good
Emerald forests, and sapphire lakes
On strings of silver streams
From the Mississippi winding
Among houses, and glass towers

I am from public assistance, and food-
Stamps, and government cheese
From social services for women, with
Infants, and children in need
From church-basement-potluck-suppers
From “hand me down” everything
…shirts, socks and shoes,
From where what had been “used” by others
Was “new” for me

Progressive…generous Minneapolis
Is where I am from.
Where it is cold in the winter

And warm in the sun

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