Midwestern Poetry, By Terry Scott Niebeling
i take a breath
i drive to work
i rub my feet
i watch the sun
i drink a coffee
i drink a beer
i am in the woods
i am in the city
i have a life
i have a death
i press repeat
i tune a dial
i steal a look
i just can’t see
i take for you
i take for me,
& another breath.
& then i am had,
no time to fret
There is no fix for it, besides outright
quitting. And how many people will do
that? They don’t care to, you know. When
they get upset like any person here, they
think they want to give up, but they don’t,
really. They can’t bring themselves to
admit they’re critics, or that judgement’s
got them pegged. They believe they can
give it and take it fair — so they give it.
If they do stop, out of shame or awareness,
they go at once into such a state of
depression and shock that they become
inaudible. They are lost of thought, and
feel sure enough of themselves to be able
to start assessing, promising objectivity,
or straight realism, and — yeah, then it
becomes the same old play over again.
Good morning Midwest,
there is joy to be found in objectively
taking the peeking sunrise,
even behind overcast clouds.
It happens so early in fact
that you can taste the shine
of the drinking fountains
lining the walls,
and last night’s perfume
in vacant halls.
That place is so early; an empty room—
soon to be filled up,
is a peaceful quiet serene,
in all feeling at present,
for a brief moment.
I stand noting the close function
to create this occasion:
I am at least 15 of 60 before any shift
worth getting paid for—
making the punctual look lazy
and the lazy look dead.
No apology here,
I can’t fix apathy, or ignorance.
I say become besties with the alarm clock,
buy stronger coffee,
cook leaner eggs.
I make my day on time
because I am running out of it,
and you didn’t even notice
while punching in.
Here’s how it’s done:
in twilight slumbers,
I dream of coming early
on most days
ending in “Y”.
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.
Entering new worlds to escape another
I woke up from a dream in a lonely bed.
Real life sat next to it on the nightstand,
in the early stretches, in “slept like a rock”
preparation for what’s to come. Today
was like any other, though different—shall
we double: it is shit and it is great. I would
cite Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but
they are dead. I would cite Anton Chigurh,
but he is nowhere to be found. “They are.
It is.” Those statements defining the
day, the morning, the thrown pillows, drool
stained, and crumpled blankets with their cat
hair, are your shell, your cocoon exited.
They rest there, waiting for another moment
to bring adventure, where you fall into the
fold and escape this life to REM, to where
monsters and mistresses await, where gold
and garbage stay; past loved ones welcoming
you in boats, and in jest. That to this, this
to that. Don’t become unwrapped for awoken
reality hits full on hard. There fellow man
meets to never actually meet. We relate,
but never truly. Reaching for the water on
the dusty dresser top, cat at my feet, shades
drawn, another day to walk to the kitchen,
open the fridge, to make breakfast, marks
and tracks, to make me. I enter this world
from another. I wonder, do we ever actually
sleep? And then I wake from this dream.
Motion reflected between where you are and where you will be;
Void for a shadow where you were, ever lying in wait to reconvene.
In the cistern of my mind
live water’s beckon thought;
is it the past or a dream—
the difference, I can’t tell.
“If you can’t please yourself, who can?” -Ma
In the morning I start planning,
by the time I am done it is mid-afternoon.
I find that I have all things figured out,
in finding that happiness is without.
When I have specific plans completed,
seen through to fruition, I can only hope for one thing:
that I still feel as good as I do when I just open my eyes,
young, in love, and surrounded by it-
when I just walk outside—lost and uncaring,
when I do the first thing that comes to mind, even today,
now, to escape. I hope to still feel as good as I do right now,
with no excess in what I have about me, and there, no excuses,
because none of those institutions will change anything, ever.
Not one. They only complicate and muck up straightforward.
Fuck plans. It is how you feel when you feel you in the end.
I hope to feel as good as I do when I wake up
in the morning, before I start planning.