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About this poet

Jeffrey Bean is the author of the poetry collections Woman Putting on Pearls (Red Mountain Press, 2017) and Diminished Fifth (WordTech Communications, 2009) and the chapbooks The Voyeur's Litany (Anabiosis Press, 2016) and Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2014). He is a professor of English at Central Michigan University and lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Kid, this is Iowa,

everything we are is here—
my dead grandmother as a girl
hunting fireflies in tiger lilies,
me throwing walnuts at gas cans
by the barn, stomping mud puddles,
my sticky hands lifting an apple
to my mouth. Here are dogwoods

and hills of corn that lead to more hills
of corn and more corn until the moon
comes up hot and my father
rattles the ice in his gin and tonic,
polishes his guitar. The horses

that dragged the lumber to build
my grandparents’ house still stomp
in the back pasture, swirl their tails
at fat, biting flies, and the sizzle of bacon
keeps waking me from my childhood
dreams: cattails snapping
their fingers, a badger’s green stare
caught in headlights, my grandfather’s
riding mower humming on the lawn,
confetti of clipped grass stuck
to his neck. The clouds here are so long

they stretch from the hidden parts of your blood
across the Atlantic to some lost place where
every ocean is healthy again, plump with whales,
and your forbears stand on cobblestones
around a barrel fire, licking
salted whitefish off their thumbs.

And here you are this morning, climbing
the wood fence I will always carry splinters from,
lifting your body into the smoke of
our leaf fire, great plumes of it reminding us
we were born to keep moving here, keep
leaving here, keep killing these fields and hills,
twisting them into smoke, then bringing them back.

Copyright © 2016 Jeffrey Bean. This poem originally appeared in The Missouri Review. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 Jeffrey Bean. This poem originally appeared in The Missouri Review. Used with permission of the author.

Jeffrey Bean

Jeffrey Bean

Jeffrey Bean is the author of the poetry collections Woman Putting on Pearls (Red Mountain Press, 2017) and Diminished Fifth (WordTech Communications, 2009) and the chapbooks The Voyeur's Litany (Anabiosis Press, 2016) and Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2014). He is a professor of English at Central Michigan University and lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

by this poet

poem

you can make the maples blaze
just by stopping to look,
you can set your clock to the barks
of geese. Somewhere the grandfathers
who own this town lean down to iron
crisp blue shirts, their faces bathing
in steam, and blackbirds
clamor in packs,
make plans behind corn.

poem

of November. It strips off the rest
of the leaves, reminds trees
how to shiver. I think to Earth
it looks like the first first rain, the water
of the beginning, swirling down hot
into gassy soup. The bubbling stuff
that imagined trees to begin with, and also
mountains,

poem

the train never comes.

You smell it anyway, its blue-coal
body. In August, the fringe sticky

with Queen Anne’s lace, you might
walk these tracks inside

gigantic noons. I walked them.
You might smash bottles,

start fires, watch clouds from
your back, breathe clouds through