Alabama Eagle and egret, woodcock and teal, all birds gathering to affirm the last gasp of sunset. Alaska Maybe I should stay in bed all day long and read a book or listen to the news on the radio but truthfully, I am not meant for that. Arkansas Then, as we talked, my personage subdued, And I became, as Petit jean, a ghost, California I can stand here all day and tell you how much I honor, admire, how brave you are. Connecticut Dark grays and fainter Grays of near fields and far hills Motionless, his mind Playing silently Over and over with his Worry beads of words. Delaware On her dresser is one of those old glass bottles of Jergen's Lotion with the black label, a little round bottle of Mum deodorant, a white plastic tray with Avon necklaces and earrings, pennies, paper clips, and a large black coat button. I appear to be very interested in these objects. Florida We learn from our animals, if we're smart. They know how to wait. They know how to run To catch up. Much of their life is spent at windows. Georgia Loaded on beer and whiskey, we ride to the dump in carloads to turn our headlights across the wasted field, Idaho I imagined him wading the shallows of a mountain stream— the breeze still cold off the higher snow fields, the fish smell of fresh water, the pitched hum of insects waking to the sun. Illinois Fact is, each breath becomes bone becomes dust Indiana Hill Thoughts, Midnight Flight Iowa The afternoons go by, one by one. My old friend, who shone like a tropic sun Amid the poets of our day, too soon Grown wan and thin as the late May moon, Kansas In river country flint nodules rest among limestone sea bottoms, unexplained, glassy among the porous tangles of shells Kentucky I see her in a photograph I found, unsmiling in a drop-waist dress. No telling how the roaring twenties roared through here. Louisiana i search but i can not find out the streets of my ancestors nor any relative to receive me Maine When I was a child and angels argued slamming doors, I lolled, feet up the couch, head on the floor Maryland Before I leave, almost without noticing, before I cross the road and head toward what I have intentionally postponed— Mississippi Behind the Ridge The Seeking Spirit Cry Life Montana Gray cloud like a sweater pulled over the heart of the moon. Nebraska Windmill. Stretch even the Fingertips against sand-coated hills. You can get there from here, Sir. Nevada Treat your Mommy nice and take her to Las Vegas— she'll think you're swell. New Hampshire The city was brick and stone in the time before glass and steel. In those days the city was streets of women. New York Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye. North Carolina The only clouds forming are crow clouds, the only shade, oaks bound together in a tangle of oak North Dakota Most poets are rooted in the natural world, spokespersons for the inarticulate in nature. Oklahoma under her cool skin the feet dipped in formaldehyde to prevent sweating a river runs. Oregon And you pretty much gotta trust Her, even if that means twiddling your thumbs while she makes Her way through Her medley— Rhode Island The dark barge works the length of braziers humped like monks awaiting sacrifice; South Carolina Seeds of hope are waiting in the sacred soil beneath our feet and in the light and in the shadows, spinning below the hemlocks. Tennessee for eighty some odd years He rose with the rising sun And many mornings got up at dark For so much work was to be done. Texas Her skirt clings to her the way fog clings to a flower. Her legs are curled up, her sleeping face soft like a saint. Driving for hours a man thinks about how things are measured, about how coffee always tastes better in small towns. Utah Neither of us can guess if they'll hurry dusk along, those clouds that have loitered all afternoon over the rooftops. From our window... Vermont When you come back to me it will be crow time and flycatcher time, with rising spirals of gnats between the apple trees. Virginia When the last cloud leaves nothing behind—no history, no trace of error, no basilica to shelter a man— Washington oblivious to the fact that anyone might be watching, that he might be teaching us all how to live West Virginia Then, that recognition would reward me for all I'd undergone, my bravery of thought, my refusal of dishonest love, and my goodwill Wisconsin Although distance does not matter, it's a long way into the flat pine forest Wyoming the work of hunters is another thing: I have come after them and made repair Note: Not every U.S. state has a designated poet laureate
Copyright © 2009 by Robert Fitterman. Used with permission of the author.