I’m Not Sleeping in the Snow: 7 Midwest Poems


These revised poems Copyright © 2010 by Michael Smetzer

I’m Not Sleeping in the Snow
It’s time to blow out the nose
and breathe about the yard.
It’s October and the air draws in cold.
My fingers untangle my hair.
Two hairy arms roll sleep from my eyes.
It’s time to rise up from the weeds.
Squirrels have poked walnuts up my ass.
Wasps crawled under me for the winter.
Sow bugs are settled in my ears.
It is time for a cold bath.
My beard is as ragged as the trees.
(first published in Cottonwood Review)
Late-Night Café in Missouri
It’s 9 p.m. and they’re
        out of mashed potatoes,
        out of corn,
        almost out of beef.
        (Mine’s the last order.)
In the john the air dryer’s
out of air.
Behind the cashier they are
out of Brach’s candies
in the Candyland display!
The tossed salad is out of
everything but lettuce.
The waitress is out of pep
so the cook refills my coffee.
Got any apple pie tonight?
Sorry, he says, you’re
        out of luck.
(first published in Poetry Now)
He Ain’t Barking at the Clouds
Squirrel’s not happy.  He’s
flipping his tail
up and down.  He wants to
punch someone out.
Look out!  Squirrel’s gone
squirrelly.  He’s mad I
tell you.  Stay clear!
Keep out of squirrel’s
mulberry tree.  Keep away
from his lady.  Shit!
This ain’t no time to
go out on a limb.
(first published in Graduate Newspaper, Univ. of Kansas)
Among the Not Included
(for anyone who has published an anthology)
Among the not included
is an angry poet from Somewhere, Kansas.
He is stomping on the fields
and yelling in the clouds.
The crackling volts from his eyes
have filled the sky with imminent lightning.
Eternal darkness is his shadow
and H-bombs explode in his swinging fists.
Sound the alarm from the silos of Kansas.
He is striding out over the hills.
It is time publishers and editors left town,
for printers to close up their shops
and go to lettering tombstones.
The very Thunderhead Poet of the Prairie
is moving in from the west.
Editorial advisors had best not be found.
(first published in Graduate Newspaper, Univ. of Kansas)
I Dream My Mother Enrolls in Freshman Lit.
“Why,” I ask, “did Cather superimpose
a plow on the face of the sun?”
But the sullen guy I call on won’t talk,
and you, Mother, you sit next to him
in the front row,
“No doubt she had her reasons,” you reply.
“Could the plow symbolize
the domestication of the prairie?
Could the sun represent life?”
“Oh, I doubt that, Dear.
Now take your words outside.”
(first published in Taurus)
After Failing at Sex I Dream
of Garage Doors Opening
Returning apologetic with tacos,
I get out of my car and pause outside
our garage door in the night.
The touch of my finger opens the door.
The touch of my finger closes the door
and opens it again.
I am opening and closing our garage door!
Spotlights whip across the sky.
Orion dances.
And all the garage doors in our town
are opening and closing together.
(first published in Platte Valley Review)
Going Flat in Bowling Green, Ohio
Flatness has a leveling effect, I said.
This horizon thins you.
No mountains lift your eyes.
No valleys drop the ground from under you.
Summer melts you over like a candle in the sun.
Then winter freezes you flat with level snow.
Or flatness attracts flatness, Ann said.
Eagles nest in mountains.
Whales sound the ocean deep.
But the buzzards flock to Hinckley,
and potato cakes come here.
Dan came back from Toledo.
If it weren’t for friction, he said,
you could slap a puck from here to Lake Erie
without finding a hill to stop it
or a natural dip it could fall in.
(first published in Red Rock)

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