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A Grammar for Snow

The poems contained in A Grammar for Snow are about everyday people in small towns, cities and farms in those fly-over-states and off-the-map places who work and love and quietly live out their lives. It is about place—mostly in the U.S. Midwest--both real and imagined. The poems contain vivid imagery and concreteness designed to help the reader believe that these places and people really exist. The poems are designed to make the reader care about these folks and their lives, to pull for them and hope against hope that things work out.

“Inches to Miles ” in Remembered Arts Journal

January 2019

I have always been drawn to poetry of place–both real and imagined. As a boy growing up in the East, where states are small, I was in love with maps, especially of those states which were large and square. Once, when a teacher asked us to pick our favorite states and research them, I chose Kansas, although I had never been there. Now that I am older, traveling is more difficult, but I have learned that visiting the places in my imagination and my poetry is still my favorite way to travel.

Inches to Miles

I NEVER seemed to have a ruler

when I needed one, never

was able to measure

those scales in the insets

 

that would let me know

how far I was from here

to the anyplace else

I wished I could be.

 

I loved those Texaco roadmaps

creased into puzzles that never

got folded correctly so that the title

would show up on top.

 

Kansas, Nebraska, both Dakotas,

Colorado, Wyoming, areas so big

that each could only go one-to-a- side.

States where borders met

 

in straight, hospital-square corners,

plumb-lines really, right angles

filled with two-lane highways running

in cardinal directions that never began

 

or ended anywhere of consequence.

And towns: so far apart they couldn’t

cast a shadow one-on–the-other

if they tried, places so small

 

that when the legend gave

examples of population by the size

of the letters, these towns had

to be read with a magnifying glass.

 

No ruler. So, I had to guess distance

by putting my finger along the scale

then counting, length by length

between towns like I imagined

 

seafarers did when they held

fingers up in a clear, night

sky and wondered at

the eternity between stars.

 

And I, also at sea: wanting

to be anywhere but stuck

in school where time inched

so slowly that it seemed like

 

I was wasting the best years

years of my life in tenth grade.

Wishing I could fold it all up,

pack it all in, travel from

 

town-to-town in a world

of my own making

where I was the ruler

endowed with power

to count off miles,

measuring the distance

between each dream,

from knuckle-to thumb.

“Night Lodging” in Blue Lake Review

December 2018

 

“Night Lodging” has been accepted at the online poetry magazine Blue Lake Review. Playing with the meaning of the word ‘lodging’ - both as a place to stay and something fixed or implanted - the poem can be found here.