Michiana Poems

Children of the Corn

When I was a young girl
sitting on the back porch
shucking and pulling long silk hairs
off golden cobs,
my mother told me

she would never live on a farm again,
after her brother and sisters raised
ducklings in hand-dug ponds
before summer arrived

the fuzzy golden duckies
turned to green Mallards
Dzia Dzia sold them
to the neighbors across the street.
They fried them and gobbled them up
within two days.

 

 ***

There’s More than Corn in Indiana

I find myself standing, staring at the small mansion, again
Greek Revival built in 1847. I can hear the one-year-old boy
who died of fright calling with the winter wind
like the wind that blew his candle out
young eyes jittering failing heart
diagnosed with darkness and curling smoke.
As I turn I face the Beeson family
cemetery, haunted squares, twelve limestone tombs
I can’t peek into the mausoleum Lady Beeson crawled
every night grief-stricken  corrupted  dementedly
demanding a carbide gas plant to keep an ever-present burning
so darkness can’t take her baby a second time
so she can keep her breathless baby bathed freshly
diapered in death rocked until the dawn breaks sky
until one horrifying night when the eyes finally fall from
the tiny child’s head. I can’t see mother buried with her baby,
their infinite expressions of degenerates, of shock.

*

This city suffers from Beeson Town Blues,
no, it will never recover
I’m not the only one who can hear
stilled sounds of ghost infants wailing
through condensed woods,
reverberations calling, forms
of heart-broken mothers everywhere

Everyone is someone’s child
after all. We all can mourn within personal madness,
can feel the pain harrowing like freshly-scythed wastelands,
with nothing to hold on to except our madness,
eyeless treasures, various types of roadkill
soaked in dirt and muck and flies.

 

*** 

Saints, Apparitions

My eyes are closed
and I see Our Lady of Guadalupe,
saintly stomper of snakes, showing

her glowing self to terrified farmers,
he will lead his people to Christ in the
forgotten land of Guadalajara, Mexico

I open my eyes
and this isn’t Guadalajara
there’s just a priest who’s singing to Luther and James

I see how no saint will form from glimmering orbs in the eyes
of another innocent passer-by who isn’t asking for
anything in particular from a saint, if anything at all,

no force is going to pull at us, tell us to pray harder,
but I watch the collection of faintly burning souls
fill up with hot air and flitter up, past broken glass windows
into comforting stone hands of Saint Whoever.

 

 ***

I was a Climber

The land here is flat
so I compromise
by pretending chairs,
the entertainment center in the family room
are the Himalayas,
one pudgy foot reaches after one pudgy hand
amidst jagged snowy edges.

Wait.

Appalachians aren’t supposed to fall,
are they?
Something so permanent, so stable,
looming and tumbling on top
of my small body–

prayer flag vases fall
avalanche! TV descends
a tank of fish shatters.
Another hiker has met the wrath
of the holy mountain, stunned
and lost in the blizzard

under the pile, I’m the only one
pulled safely from the wreckage,
clinging to daddy’s protective yeti hands.
None seem so lucky as me.

 

 ***

Stephen King was Right

My house can’t protect me from the growing rustle in the woods,
the cornfields can’t hide the monsters after dark

Go outside when the moon is low and heavy,
see their yellow eyes wink in the fields like lightning bugs

I can see the earth tremble as the countryside shadows
grow from dirt, from blackness

they’re out there now, moaning and gnashing
searching for blood to keep the corn growing

life fluid cultivated by sharp claws every night
it keeps our fertile land alive, its keeping soil-built creatures strong

 

***

 

Fragments from Fields

There’s a history in every speck of soy
lifted with wind from the fields
where princess Mishawaka was stolen
from her Potowatami father, Elkhart.
We had to honor her somehow, Princess City
Peppermint City Mishawaka

Potawatami is our native history, meaning “keeper of the fire,”
the fire that settled into my hometown.
There’s  history in every specks of ashy
flake of pollen but I won’t see most of it,

Merely picking dandelions at a young age
I had to run up the retention pond
again and again covered in yellow flakes
sneezing and sneezing uncontrollably
until my mother washed it all away with the hose
and I decided to never grasp natural worlds,
floating flecks again.

 

 ***

St. Joseph River
“…Ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath”- St. Joseph’s Prayer

I dip tiny feet in fresh water,
feel the slow lull,
quiet ripples at my ankles
rich black loam pulls my legs
deep into roots

I have not received
the four warning dreams
you have, St. Joseph,
I cannot escape in time

my debt, my skin peeling in gentle waters,
smooth my jagged bones
reform my kiss, my breath as I’m sinking,
sproutinf along the river, offerings to
landscapes fragrant with peppermint.
Now Mishawaka can remain
fertile peppermint capital of the world.

 

 

*** 

Barrington Woods

Behind diamonds where kids play ball there’s
boys surrounding a cat, smashed up with a
parade of bat swings leaving a train
of red around gravel. Heavy vibrations rattle through the boys, screech
through the muddy cat, reverberate off tall oaks by
an eyeless field coated in the same rusted

shell of worn metals. The bats lie on tracks just before a train
launches past again. The train passes. Bats burst, causing rusted
nails, knives of wood firing like torpedoes from sparking, screeching
wheels that never stop for a second. There’s
blood specks showing on remains of splintered clubs, remains of a
scraggly, soaked cat that isn’t moving. Not one foot moves, passes bi-

sected animal innards, the matted, stinking fur by
bats held in tiny fits. Innocent kids just play in woods by a train.
Innocent kids find a sheet, scoop and wrap a
dead cat to hide beneath the rusted
truck rolled and toppled deep in the woods. There’s
no way anyone will discover, know the screeching

that sticks itself on bones, screeching
into eternity. Boys trip into thick woods by
the sliver of light the sun sheds to finish the task, where there’s
soft brown dirt. Little green flags of Kentucky blue grass waved to trains,
signaling for a stop to look for everything lost to the rusted
truck or to the soft brown dirt that keeps a

secret hidden. No whispering from evidence. An
owl hoots quietly. Night was near. The owl screeches
louder, knowing what the boys did behind rusted
score boards as the boys wave good-bye.
The sliver of sun sinks under train
tracks. Moon as white as a cat eye watches from the sky. But there’s

nothing to worry about. There’s always a
train rushing, screeching
by, shedding itself along tracks, completely rusted.

 

***

Fog in the fields

Low fog glides between uncountable rows of
quivering stalks she used to weave through. Before

she and I learned there’s no return, no more early morning
walks in a wet field. Thick, smooth husks wall us out before

we see a cutter bar gnashing its teeth across crops,
separating stalks from roots, severing before

we learn that Hoosiers grow from our fields,
sprout from soft soil, a shiny green turning,

forming kernel crowns raked by wanting hands. We yell warnings,
but harvesters come for gold inside the strong wall. Not before

we can stop black scythes pushing. Scraping. Snap crinkling stalks,
shrieking in the fog keeps us from returning again.

 

***

Farmer’s Field

The surface of an ocean looks like the surface of a corn field
my father and mother walked many times,
long, wide, green, blowing in soft waves,
with my brothers and me trotting behind,
the corn speckling shades of yellow from that emerald ocean.
My father plucked a golden kernel from an ear that hadn’t fully opened yet
and patted it into the loose, brown soil with his brown hands.

Do you remember, Daddy, when you told me it would grow
if I took good care of it, if I watered it, gave it sunlight?
Then, when I gave it all I could, you told me the next step
was to give it space.
And through the care that was so delicately planted with the kernel,
that seed grew, flourishing into a strong, sunny stalk.

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