Midwestern Poetry, By Terry Scott Niebeling
sun up where
feet walk bare,
a leashed dog sniffs
at frosted ground.
gun shots pop softly
in a valley afar,
and barks from
down the block.
outside a paper
rests rolled, and banded.
here waving hands
move light behind
a pickup truck’s
clear windshield view.
chores and thoughts
in crab apple view;
what broke the day
gave back tenfold whole,
what chance had Chica
to have her piss.
St. Anthony Main was taken
on a summer’s dusk
through an old camera lens,
near the Mississippi and giant cotton woods,
people in dress—exposed flesh,
on bike, on foot,
on patios seeming elegant.
The redbrick streets
below told them
to stay out and go;
worn down, and by ice cracked,
each square watched,
unable to properly stress:
for winter would come to take it all away,
their warmth in breath,
hot sun, breezy outside comfort
and laisse faire sentiment—
what they had missed at that time
would turn cold-fast to regret.
O’ the summer is spent.
O’ take what we can get.
I would walk Central Avenue in soft
evening light, or go through Father
Hennepin Park around the same time.
A group of people to gather and become
pedestrians again on The Stone Arch’s
sandy beige bricks. To be seen smarted
by simple standing architecture, art,
and all of its cracked parts—the park too,
its sentiment with skyline shapes inset
in the distance, contrasted, outlined
in values: greys, whites, blues, golds,
and blacks. Shades reigning, measured
to a straight line and immensely looming,
cast down at those eyeing below. People
sit in fast passing cars, as those on
foot step. Thoughts to traverse, within
and without. It was another day to walk,
to watch, to wait, and to go, to move,
or to stay, on this dusk path through
downtown Minneapolis and straight back.
the space within a backpack
heavy and overpriced textbooks
cheap ripened bananas,
next to each
They tell a tale of economics and lifestyle…
I go along Coffman Memorial Union,
the pricey disaster
A few brittle flakes of flesh fall to
the standard grey University desk in front of me.
Evidence of one memorable bench-sit sunning had brought me gifts today,
parts of me and more.
They came in gaggles of yoga pants, sparkling wet sidewalk pools—dripping,
and the wafted smell of thawing topsoil.
These odors damp and dank, some familiar and sweet, natürlich;
smells a boy can never forget.
Sharing words of Baudelaire and Schadenfreude,
Chaucer and April—but, hypocrite reader, you are not guilty,
it is I with the pen and the paper and the view and the thought in mind—
These other student-creatures saunter forward naked, empty, out of
static blasé bundles of winter climes, too Springtime is due, unawares.
I smile at the idea of my taut semi-reddened flesh, dried and cooked
in yesterday’s ultraviolet rays—as my significant other warns of skin cancer,
but this is my proud ignorant trophy to own.
I can only thin-lipped big-tooth express, and fiddle with dead skin cells
as they rest on my desk in cross-shadows and heated-light.
The city bus hums to me
As I wind through wet streets.
A stoplight shouts “wait”!
From a four-corner crossing.
White flakes fall heavy, thick—
Clouding a straight-line view.
We walk along the way wondering:
When does spring return?
Our days can be acutely measured:
Bus schedules, warm showers, and brushed pearly teeth,
A bag full of books to read, a cigarette, and a high priced coffee—
And the texts read.
And the ones in our head.
Ticking around daily as a fine-tuned clock,
How out of the everyday ordinary it is to get lost—