Four Midwestern Poems
Four Midwestern Poems
Above a green ocean of rustling corn stalks
filled with sparrows and crickets and dotted
with bunches of brown cattle near red barns,
a sunny wide sky engulfs the land.
Clumps of trees spread out into distance
where clouds, so white, touch the horizon.
Slowly the billows thicken to dark gray rain clouds
that puff and spread like giants of the earth.
Bolts and balls of lightning flash and rumble
within their black and growing anvils.
Great white sheets of hailstones pelt the ground
as corn stalks sway and bend far down.
The telephone wires hum over dusty windsept roads.
Thunder dwindles and stinging rain slacks off;
the sky clears as crows caw,
and wired fence posts glisten in a bright sun.
Standing high on a pile of hay bales
far out in the rolling prairie,
lone, sunlit man stares into space,
forgetting a while his own chore
of crunching into hay with hooks,
loading his muddy truck sky high,
to chug down a winding, dusty road
into distance under blue sky.
Buttes, mesas, tumbleweed and space,
blue skies, strings of curving white clouds,
and cattle grazing near a sod hut
where Antonia and other Nebraskans
stand casting long and dark shadows,
watching a russet setting sun,
silhouette dry sagebrush knolls
rolling out forever into the beyond.
That Old Asian Feeling in Central Iowa
Driving north toward Ames,
we happened to espy a Hindu
temple surrounded by rows
of corn on a hot September day.
A high white tower, laced with
dancing Hindu gods, rose up
into a bright blue cloudless sky.
Not wanting to miss this chance,
we pulled into a small parking
lot amid the sound of buzzing
cicadas and entered the temple,
first removing shoes and
then walking slowly into the
great prayer room where a
shirtless monk chanted and
splashed an elephant figurine
with purifying clear cold water.
His chants echoed back and forth
within the very ornate prayer hall,
and for a moment I thought I was
back in eastern Asia, kneeling
on a tatami mat floor and smelling
rising incense created inner peace.
My family and I spent a year in Japan where we frequently "temple hopped."
These four poems go west from Iowa to Nebraska to eastern Colorado and back again..
The Identity of the American Midwest
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