Friday, February 27, 2009

Minnesota as Punishment for the Sin of Pride

Last week's Read Write Poem prompt involved a form called the bop, which is, as I understand it, sort of a modern sonnet-esque type of thing: 6 line stanza to set up, 2 line refrain, 8 line stanza adding to the first, repeat of 2 line refrain, then 6 line stanza to wrap up or twist or confound or otherwise resolve the first two, then another repeat of the 2 line refrain. The prompt involved everyone posting two lines, and then each poet choosing another persons refrain and writing a poem around that. There was a really cool set of line about vultures... I loved the lines, but couldn't make them into anything. I had the thought of driving an empty landscape, with vultures, in my head, and also my snowy drive back from Cleveland last weekend. Then was talking about the weather in Minnesota this morning, the possibility of me being able to handle grad school out there. So that's what went into this, I guess.....

Minnesota as Punishment for the Sin of Pride

The old man who rings up my coffee
and gas tells me to be careful on the highway
west. It’s windy as sin out there, he says,
and I know he would have used a different word
if I’d been a local. I smile, say I will,
I’m from Ohio and no stranger to winter.

I drive farther west than I’ve ever been.
The land is flat, the snow blown thin.

I’m no stranger to winter, but this
is ridiculous, my gloved fingers numb,
car buffeted and blind. Snow dervishes
beside the highway frantically praising
this great and unpredictable force
till the wind moves on and white robes
settle hollowly to earth and pavement,
all their passion blown across the prairie.

I drive farther west than I’ve ever been.
The land is flat, my soul blown thin.

Passion has blown me out here to the prairie,
my weight insufficient anchor against the wind,
my coat and blood too thin. There is no sun here,
no color but old snow, salt-bleached asphalt,
and frozen stubble in the fields. My red car
is brilliant in this landscape, my smallness immense.

I am farther west than I’ve ever been.
I fear the flattening, the blowing thin.

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