Saturday, April 17, 2004


I'll return to blog here about April 26th.



by Mark Vinz

for Mark Strand
Rugby, North Dakota

There used to be elms, I'm sure of it--
that dark, safe canopy above me as I
walked each summer day to the post office
when the mail train came through town.
Streets were wider, too, houses bigger--
a porch that isn't there, a greenhouse
disappeared, the fairgrounds shrunk to
one small racetrack. Every person I stop
is from somewhere else; every child
smiles shyly as I pass and stares, amazed
to see me photograph these tidy,
blank-faced houses where they live.

All that remains is the long drive back
through golden stubble fields and sunflowers
that turn from light--I always thought
it was the other way. The prairie sloughs
are drying up this year but still a great
blue heron rises, dips across the road
and veers toward storm clouds massing
in the west--the sound of one small engine,
tires on pavement, turning wheels.


by Mark Vinz

Something holds us here--
call it the madness of phone lines,
the pride of blizzards,
the love of wheels and wind.

Something holds us here,
where roads don't ever seem to end.
Our maps are letters home
we don't know where to send.

"The Old Hometown" is from Mark Vinz's Affinities. "Midcontinent" is from Climbing the Stairs. Reprinted by permission of the poet. Mark was born in Rugby, North Dakota, and is a true son of the prairie. Since 1968 he has taught at Moorhead State University. His poems and stories have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies and he is the author of such books as The Weird Kid, Climbing the Stairs, Mixed Blessings, Late Night Calls, Minnesota Gothic, and Affinities. With Thom Tammaro, he co-edited Imagining Home: Writing from the Midwest, which was discussed in these pages in my "Reflections on Books." I interviewed Mark for my Vagabond project on March 20, 2004, at his home in Moorhead, Minnesota.


I'm interested in considering your "poems of place" for publication in The Middlewesterner's "Saturday's Poem" feature; send two or three of your best in the body of an e-mail addressed to . Put "Saturday's Poem" in the subject line. Then be patient. I will get back to you about whether I'll use your work or not. Send along a short biographical note and information about where your books can be purchased and I'll include that when your poem runs. There's no payment involved for having your work appear in "Saturday's Poem," but the feature is seen by some high class readers. About seventeen of them, by our current count.

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