Friday, June 05, 2015


still an hour from ames
sits discouraged ‘n th’roadside weeds,
notices it’s hemp

red and blue streamers,
white tablecloth – best sweet corn
in all ‘f jones county

barbeque, sweet corn,
all kinds ‘f iowa salads –
corner ‘f th’farmyard, th’flag

prairie's tall grass, pond,
sound of trucks - this new eighty
cut through th'heart 'f iowa

amana tour guide
th’olgino troll factory
couldn’t swing this state

hoover’s meetinghouse
guide turns on th’fan, tells how they’d
separate th’boys ‘n’ th’girls

dingleberry quarries –
th’owner checked ‘bout th’insurance,
not ‘llowed t’swim there now

iowa house painter’s
choice: farmhouse white, john deere green,
internat’nal red

combine takes up th’whole road,
there’s th’ditch, ‘n’ th’linn county cornfield
way up ‘n th’cab, th’guy waves

linn county backroads,
th’dust’s flying, then, over th’hill,
th’enormous combine


at th’ramp t’solon road,
redwinged blackbird seems t’own th’place –
don’t stop ‘n her grass patch!


made th’zuchini bread
has t’be tasty, says th’ames lass,
‘r y’can’t give it away

outside deep river
corn’s yay high, sun’s going down
‘n’ he’s from around here

english river bridge,
th’amish kid stops t’strum th’hanjo –
polit’cal statement

ladybug climbs map -
up thirty, uphill, upwind
beneath, cyclist sleeps

slows down ‘n th’small towns,
fills th’summer night with hist’ry –
this one’s napoleon

there weren’t any monks,
says th’kid, pole in th’des moines, ‘t’s named
as th’middle river

about t’get married,
th’folks ‘t gabes beer garden wish’m well –
this will be his sixth

des moines ramp traffic
spares grasshopper - patiently,
northwest to southeast

outside dyersville,
fields of ripe corn and baseball -
fantasy's bullpen

tall corn hides th’hazards
‘f th’d’buque county back roads – look’n for
th’endless game ‘f baseball

endless corn ‘t th’field ‘f dreams
th’lazy pickup baseball game
also goes forever

sweet corn, th’endless rows –
th’baseballs land in this acre,
makes it kind ‘f special

th’old quarries off one
th’farmer checked with th’insurance,
can’t swim there these days

picks ‘n’ hulls th’black walnuts –
poison all th’iowa farmland,
he’ll still be sitt’n here

neck deep in wapsi -
she's miles from retribution,
five feet from nettles

goes ‘cross iowa
looking f’r th’wild pears – used t’grow them
near th’old farm houses

how t’look ‘t th’ vast cornfield,
th’way th’what cheer farmer does, ‘n’ know
when it’s time t’harvest

lisbon biker gang
town’s policeman doesn’t hear
its deafening noise

near dubuque, th'trappists
farm 'n silence - but th'hiker hears
locusts, ev'ry step

highway one onramp -
truckers' fumes, and the shrill cry
of redwinged blackbirds

th’hobo rode th’rails t’britt
jumped th’cars with both doors open,
slept better that way

english river bridge
to yonder amish window -
a banjo carries

dog hits tire at night,
when towns like ware are asleep -
but crickets hear it

used t’be, a crop ‘f bugs
story county tales ‘f pests, now,
ev’ry inch’s roundup


near okoboji,
th’sun sets in th’town ‘f well cut lawns,
‘n’ th’locusts get started

ames farm's barbed wire fence -
monarch catches morning sun,
dance 'f monday's freedom

lincoln highway bridge
shelter from thunder, lightning
summer storm moment

these small town churches,
best thing ‘bout ‘em, says th’britt sage,
th’meetings in th’basement

iowa falls feed caps –
tale ‘f th’corn silo accident,
‘n’ th’time he couldn’t breathe

reads plates on eighty,
commutes through midsummer night
coralville - hey, maine!

says th’state fair maiden,
t’get th’pig ‘n th’truck, stick th’bucket
on his head, ‘n’ back’m in

quarter in th'wapsi -
wish floating downstream, through corn
ready for harvest

just off th’coralville strip,
th’apples fall on some old guy’s
collection ‘f edsels

hills ‘f one, th’corn turns brown
th’eternal damnation sign’ll
catch you by surprise

or’nge leaves, amana,
hear th’german, back room of th’mill –
some things’ve never changed

fall leaves, dubuque cliffs –
th’hiker ‘n’ th’eagle are impressed,
th’local kids, less so

football saturday
cars backed up past hawkeye drive
beat minnesota!

polk county steak fry
th’democrats worry that it’s
a place t’fly over

from th’farmhouse window,
th’corn tassels dance ‘n th’solon breeze –
she pours th’rose hip tea

crisp fall morn, cold look -
don't walk on the don't walk sign
in cedar rapids

born in bluffs - one fall,
in town, couldn' get off eighty,
and never came back

read through dead leaves on bumper,
frames this license plate

first frost, road t’d’corah
th’abandoned house ‘n’ its hist’ry
‘n a single flash ‘f lightning

stone city gravel
roads sneak up on its buildings -
orion watches


thirty five ‘t clear lake
‘cross th’frozen fields, he ‘magines
staying here f’rever

truck stop near walcott
ice on th’cornfields, ‘n’ spills th’coffee –
it too is sure t’freeze

leaving for padre,
champagne, map on small table
in winnebago

highway one downtown,
th’steepest hill for th’kids t’sled on
th’cars’ll have t’take th’side streets

dead stop ‘n th’interstate –
des moines caddy driver says,
avoid th’ice ‘n th’shoulder

frozen field, clear lake,
come by th’hundreds, from around th’world –
th’guy’s got some kind ‘f pull

thirty five 'n' eighty -
warm tea, numb fingers, a choice:
texas or west coast?

b’hind th’k’lona buggy,
impossible not t’notice –
stops better on th’ice

burg poet's topic
as blizzard pushes through door -
ash and omelet grease

th’burg’s writers, coffee
in hand, judge – as each couple
lets th’blizzard in th’door

on one, near annie
drunken rider, car in drifts
argues which way's north

offer 'f place to stay -
in ames blizzard, th'pastor shows
a genuine faith

amana tourists
pick up mill workers' german -
outside, a blizzard

worst cold spell 'n twenty
years - jeff county farmer blames
the maharishi

amana woolens-
outside the mill, icy glaze
covers corn and brick

icy solon road,
eternal damnation sign
frames empty cabin

orange triangle -
buggy blocks kalona road,
wood wheels on packed snow

stone building, wool hats –
out ‘f th’ice, th’amana mill folks
speak their own german

named this town lisbon
railroad, dreams, cities, people
but dreams don't till weeds

shiloh road farmhouse –
pink porch means she’s marryin’ age,
he says – nice flowers!

kalona dairy –
she hides behind engorged cows,
th’men talk ‘f barn raising

her buggy, mud road
near one – always ‘n outsider,
but she’d have it worse

café near des moines
argued ‘bout th’war all winter,
vet’s back, ‘n’ he looks down

brown street dand’lion
when sued, th’court ‘f law, he calls it
flower, not a weed

brown street, wooded yard –
plants th’rose t’show, it’s all there b’cause
he wants it that way

fresh rhubarb, cups of
sugar, sharp pie - black coffee,
ready for wellman

oskaloosa lass –
waiting for th’rhubarb t’spring up,
make th’sharpest pie f’r church

knows how t’cook th’rhubarb,
strawberries ‘n’ sugar, just right
t’take t’ th’tulip festival

kalona amish
ask him t’mow, but he lost th’leg
for th’freedom not to

place called ivanhoe,
where one hits th’cedar – he’ll fish
n’ pick th’ripe mulberries

cedar ‘t ivanhoe
eats from th’bucket ‘f mulberries,
throws a few to th’fish

cloud ‘f dust up on th’hill –
ivanhoe’s mulberries’re ripe
‘n’ somebody’s coming

burg poet lingers –
got a job as a gard’ner,
points out th’smell ‘f bacon

th’workshop kid borrows
th’journal ‘f th’trav’ling – class ends ‘n may,
th’journal’s still out there

flood of ninety-three
june rains push skunk river - can't
leave town fast enough


at first th’rose hip tea’s
th’decorah lass’ ev’ning brew –
now it’s rose hip wine


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