Last week we had a special commemorative issue of this diary series for Robert Creeley, which can be found here. By clicking on that link, and similar links located above the fold in each diary in this series, you can track back to, and catch up on, all the great poets and poetry I’ve introduced here and at Daily Kos the past few months.
Today we return to our regular routine of introducing poems by one poet, Michael Lohre.
More after the fold . . .
Michael Lohre is a lecturer in the English Department of Ohio State. He write short stories and poetry, and to be honest, I haven’t benn able to find a lot of his work online, but what I have found are two poems of his I fell in love with the moment I read them. Without further ado, here they are:
Found at the blog Scrivenings (originally published in first appeared in the 2001 issue of DoubleTake.
“Dear Michael, Love Pam”
Just walked home for my 2-hour break
& I want to take a nap before I go back
at noon. Exhausted. Went to the Grain Bin
last night for a dance lesson in the Western Swing.
I learned to Barrel-turn and Dip, but I stayed out
too late. A chemical salesman disguised as my dance
partner asked me out to supper on Valentine’s Day.
I’m going but am not thrilled over the guy.
My guts say don’t trust a 44-year-old wearing
sneakers & sideburns. Hope you are doing better
than this old divorcée. Thank you for the letter,
pictures, and my goodness the poetry.
The one poem brought tears to my eyes–
the hammock one & he’s wasted his life.
That and Charlie Walhof’s death last Tuesday
had me thinking about making every day
count for something. Charlie was our local
entertainer who never found his star in Nashville
during his younger days but was giving music another
go now at 51. His Dodge van was halved by a train
in Maynard, MN, on a business trip that he’d hoped
might create an Opry near the lakes–in Alexandria, I think.
For the tourists. Charlie was a good man, Mike. Reminded
me of Dad. Same blue eyes, kind, & smile. He used to
hold my hand for a second after I passed his mail
to him. I wonder … I know this will sound odd …
could you write something for Charlie? I guess that must
seem silly. I don’t know how all that poetry stuff works.
Maybe if I sent a picture? That might not be the way
either. Somehow I just thought you might find the right
words? Anyway, I’m going to have to lie down now.
The kids and I miss you, Michael, and I want you to know
–I don’t believe that James Wright wasted his life.
And now a stunning poem from MiPo Vol. 19, Issue 1:
Doris Maxa, 8, Waits For No Mail With Her Five Sisters In Their Bedroom Above A General Store And Dance Hall In Seaforth, MN, Population 67, Circa 1945
Three brothers go off to war
and Gordon whispers to young Doris,
her thin arms crucifixing the door,
“You’re my favorite sister, Doris.”
The first two Christmases he sends oranges
–then he is shot manning the radio
in a bomber spiraling to Germany below.
Gordon wears no parachute but the pilot
heaves his limp body out a door to the sky,
and prays for a miracle to save his life.
Neil, a prisoner but alive near Berlin,
never sees his brother’s body tumbling.
He scratches at his hand near a camp fence–
mining for lice and dreaming tunnels.
Gordon must roll his eyes east to Russell,
the muscular Marine fighting in a foxhole
of sweltering volcanic ash and sulfur
on Iwo Jima. Gordon sees the pill boxes
hiding Kuribayashi and that violent job
with high wages in flames and bodies.
There is nothing to do but keep dying,
to see the war’s end and Russell surviving
only to be killed by a passenger train
while driving to make Seaforth from Maine
after being served divorce papers
and a fifth of whiskey on his brain.
So hit this earth, Gordon. Make your own grave.
Your little sister lives in this Creation
and she rolled your oranges in the winter cold.
Her hands peeled each skin from its home
in three white pieces, dried them by the stove,
and carried them away when they turned gold.
With skins and scissors, her hands make the shapes
of butterflies and of brothers and of angels.
Doris pins their wings into the empty walls:
Doris has a design for you to be beautiful.
A brief bio from his homepage at Ohio State University:
* * *
I grew up on a farm in southwest Minnesota and we raised cash crops (corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, alfalfa) and livestock (hogs, cattle, sheep, chickens, horses). I’ve been a Schwans Man, a pipeline worker, road builder, grain bin constructor, warehouse manager, small town journalist and ice house laborer and I’ve lived in Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma and (for the last seven years) Ohio. I like riding motorcycle, traveling, reading, writing, playing guitar and singing, going to movies, and hanging out with my friends.
Enjoy your Monday. See you next week, same time (more or less) same poetic channel.