This past spring, my latest chapbook, MY MINNESOTA BOYHOOD, was published by Post Traumatic Press in Woodstock, NY. Contrary to its title, I neither had a boyhood nor grew up in Minnesota. It is a collection of poems inspired by a close friendship with a man who did, comparing and contrasting, through fantasy and present experience, his childhood there and mine on Long Island.
As do most fantasies, this one was obligated to end, somehow, in its final pages of course. Following is the last poem from the book. I give away nothing by sharing it here. There is no secret story told in the rest of the poems. It is simply a gentle admission that, indeed, returning to New York, now, was at the last, the necessary and healthy thing to do:
Rail's the only way to go, fast
and yet you can still make out
faces at the depots, houses, coffee shops.
By car, you stop and start as you please,
deviating for a last pretzel or Orange Julius
at the Mall, or strong coffee, a slice of
rhubarb pie before hitting the highway.
Airplanes are efficient, surreal, as you
board in one part of the country,
say, the part that's cold, filled with frozen lakes
and men who insist on fishing them,
and get off in another world where
winter is for satellite TV, writing poems about places
you never really knew, green fields and blue lakes
you've heard about on Public Radio.
But it's time to go, before reality sets in,
before that sentimental journal sees another sunrise,
shows wrinkles in your smooth imagination,
before daylight proves you're alone.
any way is best, but leaving is key. Minnesota
Let memory ripen like a plum on a spring bough,
let flowers bloom on the untouched branch.
Let the lakes melt, boats return to the water, fish begin
the happy cycle of love, of life, of rushing off to hook or harbor,
their bright tones fading with summer and sun.
Let the small houses rest onshore,
waiting for other summers, other expeditions.
Let the giant walleye, as its name implies,
look to its future with one eye on winter past,
remember indigo twilight of November,
the real freeze that comes before buds
burst into one more verse of their same song.
MY MINNESOTA BOYHOOD is available for $8 from either myself or Post Traumatic Press, at PO Box 544, Woodstock, NY, 12498.