To one and several poets: — by Michael Lasater

To one and several poets:


“… a hundred little devices …”
– Jim Wayne Miller (I Have a Place: The Poetry of Jim Wayne Miller)


I read some of your poems again today –
first those colossal pieces with the hangman, the stars,
and the shroud – then the one where you rhyme the girl
to bed in a thicket thorned with sweet grief
and roses wild and red.

Really nice.

Through a teacup crack you escape down to the climbing,
plunging sea. Splendidly abroad, you wire back:
On your speaking tour you drink the Pacific dry,
and wow an army of contract bridge players
by conjuring a trick on the spot – a sestina no less –
six words breathing life, love, death.

You sing a wizard mist damp with the tears
of blowsy barmaids and part-time lovers,
some of whom may actually have known you and provided, at least,
the gift of an idea, some tiny salvation you shrewdly
invest for profit on tomorrow’s always empty page.

Magician, jongleur, troubadour –
you are wonderful.

And yet, I cannot follow you.

I come from a place where words have abandoned language,
where crows have become priests, trees no longer
can shed their leaves, and the sky itself has been set
on fire. All the old rituals have given way
to a new, bloodless communion, the sanctification of indifference.

Poetry lives hard here.
Everything tastes of copper.

It grows late.

I open a window to let the day just past
out into the night. Down the block
I can hear the voices of children playing after dinner –
double double this this –
double double that that –

some tiny salvation.


Hutchinson native Michael Lasater is Professor of New Media at Indiana University South Bend. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, Juilliard, and Syracuse University, he has performed with ensembles ranging from the Ringling Bros. Circus Band to the Metropolitan Opera, produced nationally distributed video documentaries on poetry and music, and currently exhibits art video internationally. His poetry has appeared in Kansas Time + Place, Heartland!, Cathexis Northwest Press, and The Heartland Review, where he is the winner of the 2019 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).


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