Friday, May 27, 2011

The Missouri Shores

Of all my poems, this probably is my favorite. It's not the best--I can see that--it's just the one I like the most. It appeared in Hidden Oak.

Looking out over the land of retired bison,
where Indians haven’t been seen a hundred years,
the farmers shift their chaw and think of changes.
Maybe the tractor threw another rod.
Maybe the banker’s wife had a bad night.

Someday, they say, the sea will reach Missouri.
But they don’t know. They’re tired of alfalfa
and soybeans and corn. They think they’ll sit
up in their lofts on rockers, watching the tides.
It’s all in plate tectonics, is what they say.

Me, I think that grasses and sycamores
are safer to be predicted here than tuna.
Somehow I can’t imagine Mom and Dad
parking their dory in the new garage
or rowing bagels to Grandma every Sunday.

I’d like to see the moon reflected back in spume
over the vanished town of Moberly.
I hear them wish that everything that stales
washes away and grows a coral shell.
I like to dream, but hopefulness has its limits.


karensomethingorother said...

Why is this your favourite, Richard? Was it the mood you happened to be at the time, or that good feeling of inspiration?

RHE said...

I think it's because it's sort of quintessential Epstein. If I could speak in poetry, this is what I'd sound like. That doesn't prove anything about its quality, of course.

Nevid said...

The thing is, it is SO not like much of your other stuff. The blank verse is much more starkly missing poemy tricks, and if that is IP, it is so loose, I don't even hear it. think those are good things - wonder why I havent' seen this mode more from you. But it's a nice idea - that the midwest is "tired of alfalfa and soybeans and corn". Wishing for the sea takes on such meaning! All that the sea could bring -- all that you might wish for in a landlocked place -- that nice, widening metaphor.

RHE said...

It's very old.

Saddlerider-1 said...

As a poet we sometimes look deep within and what comes out are the thoughts embedded in our soul. If this is how you sound then let the words come forth and let the truth from your heart flow, which it did. I enjoyed this scribe. The earths plates most definitely are on the move and many a land will find the sea like never before.

RHE said...

Hmm. I'd have said that "As a poet we" strive to have our pronouns agree with their antecedents and to form possessives using apostrophes. I enjoyed a scribe once, but not enough to ask her out a second time.