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Wednesday, May 23, 2007 10:00 pm

People's Poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document ecopoem #3

praise be I wasn’t a lederbrand cow drowsily dreaming in that predawn pawnee pasture when the buried pipeline burst sending a fireball six hundred feet into the air I’d be charbroiled pumice as it was sixty of my sisters stampeded bellowing from the red hot barn some haven’t been found yet what about milking
my friend who lives thataway heard the blast leapt to his bar in his skivvies took some of the shots on the evening news he’s been chiding me for my eco mindedness keeping my water heater off it does seem dumb when the gas burned that night would feed the heater for a hundred years a hot soak in the tub every night but even though prudhoe bay is filled with oil does that give us leave to keep on gunning our suvs until the cows come home

© Jacqueline Jackson 2007

I’ve talked a lot in this column about poetry as celebration, about the way in which a poem can make an ordinary experience seem quite special. Here’s the celebration of a moment on a campus somewhere, anywhere. The poet is Juliana Gray, who lives in New York. I especially like the little comic surprise with which it closes.

Summer Downpour on Campus
When clouds turn heavy, rich and mottled as an oyster bed,
when the temperature drops so fast that fog conjures itself inside the cars, as if the parking lots were filled with row upon row of lovers,
when my umbrella veils my face and threatens to reverse itself at every gust of wind, and rain lashes my legs and the hem of my skirt,
but I am walking to meet a man who’ll buy me coffee and kiss my fingers —

what can be more beautiful, then, than these boys sprinting through the storm, laughing, shouldering the rain aside, running to their dorms, perhaps to class, carrying, like torches, their useless shoes?
Reprinted from The Louisville Review (No. 59, Spring 2006) by permission of the author. Copyright ©  2006 by Juliana Gray, whose most recent book of poetry is The Man Under My Skin (River City Publishing, 2005). This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.


Ted Kooser served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006. For more information, go to www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.
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