Take Heart 19 September 2012

Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2012 in Culture

Take Heart 19 September 2012

A Conversation in Poetry

edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate

Today’s featured poet is Martin Steingesser, Portland’s former poet laureate. His ecstatic poem celebrates a morning on the road, paying tribute along the way to two American poets noted for their own ecstatic celebrations.


Today, the Traffic Signals

All Changed for Me

by Martin Steingesser


It’s all language, I am thinking

on my way over the drawbridge to South Portland,

driving into a wishbone blue, autumn sky, maple

red, aspen yellow — oaks, evergreens

stretching out in sunlight. Isn’t this all

message and sign, singing to us?

When I open ears, listen with eyes

wide open, the world tumbles in, suddenly

a rush through my body, how tires zummmmm

across a bridge grating, sending vibratos

along limbs, out fingers

and toes. Even these dead things

we make: cement walkways,

macadam streets, all our brick and steel

and rubber, even these are alive. Sometimes

I feel so empty. Today, I am filling up, the way

this Indian Summer morning keeps fattening

on sunlight, feelings, words frothing like yeast.

Blue sky rises in my blood, geese

and monarchs migrating through; my love’s an open field,

meadows of goldfinch, Anne’s lace, new moon

and crow laughing … Tornadoes

collapse in a breath, oceans curl at my toes, galaxies

exploding in my heart. Am I going loco? I pull over

onto the roadside, cars and trucks whizzing by.

I can’t get places I thought I was going. I think of old Walt,

quadrupeds and birds stucco’d all over. Why not?

And you, too, Allen, gay, locomotive sunflower laureate,

both of you, among the leaves, in your all-star colors,

hitting all the curves, belting poems

out of the century. O look! — this is what’s happening. 


Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2012 by Martin Steingesser. Reprinted from "Brothers of Morning," Deerbrook Editions, 2012, by permission of Martin Steingesser. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, special assistant to the Maine poet laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or (207) 228-8263.

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