Deborah Bogen's Landscape with Silos won the X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize 2005. Bogen's poems and reviews appear widely. Recent poetry can be found in Shenandoah, The Gettysburg Review, Field, Margie and Poetry International. Her chapbook, Living by the Children's Cemetery, was selected by Edward Hirsch as winner of the 2002 ByLine Press Chapbook Competition. Although her North Dakota roots provide the backdrop for some of the her poems, she now lives in Pittsburgh PA, where she runs free fiction and poetry workshops for talented overworked academics.

Landscape with Silos

One nail sticking up in a pile of boards,
air bladders from fish brought home for supper,
sugar in green glass bowls,
glittering rattlesnakes.

The palsied ghosts of cloudstained women,
shadows of railroad men far from their homes,
a deep-freeze filled with molasses cookies,
broken concrete, lilacs, thunder.

We drank water from old pipes,
picnicked under windbreaks, peach pits
and eggshells, and in the glove box
roadmaps to the river, to the reservation,

to Fargo and Minor. But no maps
to the silos where men tended missiles so big
we didn't even dream about them.
They didn't scare us, those missiles,

not the men either who rose like bankers,
sat calmly at the counter, starched and pressed
Keys jingled on their belts,
They ordered root beer and blackbottom pie.

 

Poem in the Dark

You wake hungry.
It's hot.
Outside mockingbirds lecture the moon.
You know you won't sleep
but here's your consolation,

            at this hour no one's lost,

Not your father slumped in his autumn
gold recliner
or your sister aglow in the oxygen
tent. There's Mr. Hanstrom
still moving his lawn

and back on the farm eternal cats
circle the separator. Uncle Earl still
straddles his John Deere and Ethel sits
at the Singer.

Somewhere Jim's playing his clarinet.

In the dark you hear him perfectly.

 

The Barn Holds the Sky Up

Most nights we can't sleep. We sit out
till the moon shows. If it's late,
if I know the kids won't wake, I strip
and lay full out on the grass.
Orion's up there, a big professor
in his lecture hall. "Tonight," he says,
"I have a great deal of material
to cover." And the Bible says a good man
loves the light, only the wicked love
what's hidden but I think that's just talk.
Just talk I think, and when the grass
is wet like this, and cool, I feel empty.
Free almost. Some say the moon makes things
look strange. I think it lets us see how
strange things are, scarecrows in
their wedding clothes, the way light snows
on trees. The Bible says the sun's got
one kind of glory, the moon another.
I see best in moon-lit glory.

From From Landscape with Silos © 2006 Texas Review Press

 

Deborah Bogen Moonday poetry reading

2006 Deborah Bogen


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