Saturday, May 22, 2004


by Susan Firer

I have grown old in this city, on this lake,
on the banks of words. I've walked
its beautiful cruel chemical lawns,
given up on perfection, accepted
handseled molecularity. Entrances & exits
are always colder, nearer to doors & outside
than to ins. The earth's a greenhouse.
Here people bend under invisible knapsacks of grief,
visit butterfly graveyards with their Jeffrey Dahmers
& Father Groppis, with their corner taverns and church bells.
On hot days in Lake Michigan bodies bob & emerge
against horizon-sized ore boat backgrounds.
Ghosty empty plastic bags somersault in lake air,
wind snap catch in trees. The city
is clearer with Calatrava's wings.
Maple seeds make black roofs gold.
The lake is generous with stones
and a horizon of language, tugs, & ghostships.
Look! The lake folds over us in our sleep
drowns us in brave weeping vowels.
Before I was born, I buried people I loved.
In the morning lake a dead father's
yellow, palm-tree covered bathing trunks
a dead mother's blue petalled bathing cap.
In a story from my childhood, one brother
holds an entire sea in his mouth,
while his siblings scavenge the seafloor.
I have always lived on this lake.
It is in my breath.

"The Butterfly Graveyard" appeared in Natural Bridge. Susan Firer's fourth book, The Laugh We Make When We Fall, won the 2001 Backwaters Prize and is published by Backwaters Press (Omaha, NE). Her third book, The Lives of the Saints and Everything, won the Cleveland State University Prize and the Posner Award for the best book of poems published by a Wisconsin author in 1993. Her other books include The Underground Communion Rail (West End Press) and My Life with the Tsar and Other Poems (New Rivers Books). Her work has appeared in many anthologies and reviews, including Best American Poetry 1992, Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader (Black Sparrow Press), A Whole Ohter Ballgame: Women's Literature on Women's Sport (Farrar, Straus, Giroux), Ladies, Start Your Engines: Women Writers on Cars and the Road (Faber and Faber), Hummers, Knucklers, and Slow Curves (University of Illinois Press), Boomer Girls (University of Iowa Press), The Georgia Review, Ms., Chicago Review, Iowa Review, and others. She is a recipient of a Milwaukee County Artist Fellowship and a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship. Two poems from her most recent book were featured and archived on Verse Daily. Recent work has appeared in New American Writing, Third Coast, and Lungfull!, and is forthcoming in The Book of Irish American Poetry (U.of Notre Dame Press).


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.

o Dave Bonta, "The Morning Porch" - March 13, 2004
o David Clewell, "Depot: Beaver Dam, Wisconsin" - February 21, 2004
o Fred First, "In Living Memory" - April 4, 2004
o Phil Hey, "Spare Tire" - March 6, 2004
o Tom Montag, "February 1, 2001" - February 14, 2004
o Mike O'Connell, "Flatlanders" and "A Farm and a Rainbow" - March 27, 2004
o Colleen Redman, "Tincture Making" - May 15, 2004
o Mark Vinz, "The Old Hometown" and "Midcontinent" - April 17, 2004

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