, I want to share my first published poem. It was published in the Wisconsin Poet Calendar. That goal of getting into that publication spurred my imagination to recollect my important memories. It forced me to live in that poem and get it match what was in my head.
My Small Wisconsin Life
(previously published in Wisconsin Poet’s Calendar 1999)
You have forgotten dusty roads
dogs flopped down under the pine tree
cats loitering on the milk-house steps
Dad out plowing
Mom working second shift
after school chores,
throwing hay from the mow
busting bales open in the manger
scraping the floor
then enduring the cold crunch of lime
as you showered the floor
Dad opening the door to let Donna, Lulabelle,
Becky and the rest rush in with steamy breaths.
Too often I neglected
Dad’s stories as he’d put his hand on a cow’s back
and sshoop-sshoop-shoop-shoop he had a milker on
standing in the doorway with him watching the evening sky
him and me zig-zagging three milkers across the aisle
as the cows stared at the walls and waited their turn
WGN fading out on the am radio.
Too faded are the memories
So different was my life
watching the ground roll by
the baler a three piece band setting the beat
loading the creaking wagon boat
as it navigated the alfalfa sea
returning atop the rustling cargo of bales.
My kids will never have a small Wisconsin life
run through a cornfield
race a bike down a worn cowpath,
then explore cow-trampled woods
feed a newborn calf
build a hay fort
run on sun-cured hayfields
have dad always a walk away.