Free Local Midwestern Poetry, By Terry Scott Niebeling
Shades of the trees toward western skies rest a cool shadow
on a once brilliant face,
where the lacquer for paint
Smack of fuzzed tennis balls hurled in the wind,
zipping with bugs in
a St. Paul end-summer August warm.
Reflections and shadows hung on until it was time
to go back home—
just after supper and just before
candlelight vigils and auto headlamps scans rushed
into closed windows and about vacant streets.
the world come to close another day,
morning would be the same except reverse
on those tired night dweller’s eyes.
A can was crushed and we biked back
to SE through mosquitoes.
To my astonishment
there was none—
people were content
with old formulas
and bad news.
The “best poet I know”
It was a real treat.
I can sleep a lot, a lot easier.
Loam, marrow, stone, and humus—
where open groves of pine bent in sway,
stained-wood new growth,
a green tent setup
and stretched between.
We went tearing, hard traipsing,
gutting fish at a low fire glow
near an old truck.
A sharp knife’s prick in
a valley’s deep expanse—
words far off and then gone;
neighbors chattered, birds chirped,
and the wind whistled
where we breathed in,
adjusted focus, stretched, and pulled.
It was merely coming through,
it was a mere passing chance.
It was an evening in a north forest.
Slowing my advance
the smell of fresh dew
on bending grass,
deeply rich, as pubic loin,
coming up into me.
Passing chance is a pedestrian
at another drink,
to sup, to taste—to figure:
Beyond what affords
the wires and cords,
the libations of vibrations—in pocket and lapel;
consorts of sorts:
eyes to see to tell,
caught in a room, in a shell.
Here it is running between sharp teeth,
between punch in and punch out,
the texture expands on the tip of tense tongue,
to drown the drain
in the welcome back of a dry desert throat,
where we once spoke.
Yesterday’s sun had taken all proof
of what there was to own:
the house, the car, the student loans, the mobile phone.
Every drop of hydration
was taken from placement.
And then that orb went away
with the dying day,
to blackest night,
to come back and drop what it lacked,
to give what it had taken away.
these droplets of life,
here on fine grass, stay,
for all to gleam as they pass.
Seeing yard for a blade.
Seeing hours for a wait.
Bearing witness to its presence,
to this small existence, to little menace.
Taken its smell,
dew on these forms,
forms on this ball,
lit up by yellow orb,
spinning, rolling, coming down,
into finite points,
magnified and reflected,
encapsulating each particle universal,
directly into you.
A most minute sense,
it was almost unbearable
to enter that building
on this day.
At the enormous back windows of Hodson Hall, looking east towards Falcon Heights’ standing homes, over an expanse of grooved fields—carefully worked, a person can gleam breaking light caught on cement sidewalks, red bricked structures, and shined square glass low in the early day haze.
Outside seagulls float, calling, in caressing morning brilliance at you, asking “caw?”
What does that mean??? I wonder.
Their questions as ambivalent as a cloud’s shape and meaning to curious children…
I wondered, how did they get here, there is no sea in Minnesota (smh).
These worldly reflections begged, knocked, and retained sharp attention of waking eyes, pupils pulled tight at the warming occurrence, such nature for a sparking mind to ponder, as if synapse was crackling, as if creation was tore in two.
Supple ears held the bird’s sound in their netted web of up and down—their inquiry, as they danced, above, gliding, laughing high pitched at you.
Only to stand and watch, only inside what is inside.
The sun had begun its orbital voyage, those with white feathers and all life in tow, infinite unending, and all the connections of connections exposed.
It paint as an artist’s brush over lands, trees and grass, overhead, above polo shirts and homeless ragged men, showing.
Leaving for a moment its mark; then as fleeting as it appears it vanishes to dark.
The warmth was there to stay—so ephemeral, as a Mayfly’s life, in a moment’s hesitation lost; shadows draw long in the absence, as flowers quick bend their praise.
A day we have, then not.
It is here, then it is gone.
This colorful set constantly changing, to the chagrin of progress, to the luck of fickle nature, and to the impromptu dialogue of the local theatre company.
Another tomorrow awaits at the end of coming dusk, with quizzical seagulls, with fascist sunlight, with worldly reflections in tow, with fired synapse and buttoned polos and people begging for change, anything you could spare will do, until they take their bow.
And the light caught it all at the back of Hodson Hall.
They sit high up over a vast campus backdrop watching
at those who pass fleeting along University Avenue.
Pillars which appear countless from a single sidewalk vantage
stand at the building’s edge proudly displayed.
Above the intensely ornate deco of Folwell Hall—rich education,
crimson and beige; their solid mouths gape, their eyes a dull marble
gaze at the coming and goings of those on foot.
Connecters roll along packed with transferring scholars,
people stand in peaceful commotion as bikes move fluidly
by in quick motion while the ground gathers unwrapped debris.
These statues hulk through the evening into night, fixed,
unmoved in necessary seasons, unmoved in climes and times.
When there is light the rays never escape them,
true, they never tire no matter the pitch darkness surrounding.
Hard fixtures as they loom, pressing, and they are rigidly forlorn,
above acutely exact academics, loose agendas, and airy aspirations.
A straight-line wind couldn’t take them down, gargoyles of the precipice.
Chiseled outlines grotesque, watching, in swirling noonday skies.