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Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008 05:29 am

People's Poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document ecopoem #7  
driving north dense fog I first time ever pull into the wisconsin welcome rest area phone my delay sit still boots on concrete atop the triangle of land once ours till I-90 sliced through the farm I know the earth under this pavement it’s field 12 I walked corn rows for years detasseling knew my dad and uncle raced the fence line in opposite directions last one back to the big oak is a rotten egg dad would pause spit under a stone to ease the stitch in his side I can’t see the barn a quarter mile off its lacy roof still there till the indians build their casino I recall the note grandpa left on my father's desk blotter ronald I had a glorious good time today the sky and clouds have been grand the team responded to every touch & were so strong & willing the machines were good if old that wonderful number 12 field is such a satisfaction we have been preparing for that for the past ten years signed dad I mull the annual loss of arable land to condos malls asphalt ours carrington loam over gravel was best in the world same as in the caucasus I close the car head on into the blinding fog
© Jacqueline Jackson 2008

I’d guess you’ve heard it said that the reason we laugh when somebody slips on a banana peel is that we’re happy that it didn’t happen to us. That kind of happiness may be shameful, but many of us have known it. In this poem, the California poet, Jackson Wheeler, tells us of a similar experience.

How Good Fortune Surprises Us
I was hauling freight out of the Carolinas up to the Cumberland Plateau when, in Tennessee, I saw from the freeway, at 2 am a house ablaze.
Water from the firehoses arced into luminescent rainbows.
The only sound, the dull roar of my truck passing. I found myself strangely happy. It was misfortune on that cold night falling on someone’s house, but not mine not mine.

Poem copyright © 2007, by Jackson Wheeler, whose most recent book of poetry is A Near Country (Solo Press, 1999). American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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