Saturday, July 31, 2004


by Karla Huston

My father sometimes took us to the lake
on hot Wisconsin nights when the sun started to fall
but before the mosquitoes began their feasting.

We'd spread towels on the cooling blanket
of sand, place shoes at the corners to keep them down.
My brother and I would step carefully in the water,

staying close to the shore
while my mother tucked pin curls into a tight white cap.
My father would barrel-ass down the bank, slice

into the water like a knife, and show up
on the other side of the safety ropes, grinning.
Exactly three breast strokes later,

he would hoist himself onto the diving raft, shake
water from his yellow hair and dive again
and again, bringing up handfuls of mucky lake bottom,

laughing as worms of mud crawled down his arms.
On the way home, if we were lucky, he'd stop
for rootbeers or curly topped cones.

Later, when I'd try to fall asleep, the lake came back,
the muddy scent of water swarming my skin,
my father's face smiling, waves rocking me to sleep.


by Karla Huston

We clutched together in a screen tent,
nine of us lurching between
tent poles and gusts, watching
clouds gather up in the west,
the angry wave of them
hovered over the Mississippi River
bluffs like a black wall. The wind
huffed down the face of the limestone,
threw clay and trees onto highways
and shorelines. We shivered
and while the sky slung bullets,
the old man reared back, spit mud
and clams and weeds.
The wind made sodden debris
of tents and sleeping bags
while under the plastic canopy
we passed the bourbon--an amber torch,
the burning liquor the only thing
that quenched the quarrel outside.

"Summer Storm" appeared previously in Poet Lore and Nanny Fanny. Reprinted with permission of the poet. Karla Huston recently earned an MA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She has won the the 2003 Main Street Rag Chapbook contest and the Wisconsin Regional Writers' Association Jade Ring for both poetry and fiction. She received writing residencies from the Ragdale Foundation in both 1998 and 2002. Her poems have earned five Pushcart Prize nominations. Huston has published poetry, reviews, and interviews in many national journals including Cimarron Review, 5 A.M., Margie, North American Review, One Trick Pony, Pearl, Poet Lore, Rattle,and others. She is listed at Book That Poet. Her chapbook Flight Patterns can be ordered from Karla Huston or from The Main Street Rag Online Bookstore. About Flight Patterns, poet Denise Duhamel has said: "Karla Huston has a knack for the perfect-pitched narrative, the delicious revelation of a storyline in verse. In Flight Patterns, the heartbreak of mature and adolescent love, domestic dramas, and issues of the body stun the reader with both their universality and their particular passions. Huston wrestles with all the "what ifs," and her poems put life in a headlock at every turn. A vividly luscious debut."


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 Harriet Brown, "Speaking Midwestern" and "Where We Went" - July 10, 2004
o Robin Chapman, "By the Wisconsin River" - June 12, 2004
o Susan Firer, "The Butterfly Graveyard" - May 22, 2004
o Fred First, "In Living Memory" - April 3, 2004
o R. Chris Halla, "My Prairie Wedding" - June 5, 2004
o Loren Kleinman, "Formaggio" and "Jetsam" - July 24, 2004
o Mike O'Connell, "Flatlanders" and "A Farm and a Rainbow" - March 27, 2004
o Colleen Redman, "Tincture Making" - May 15, 2004
o Jim Reese, "Ritual" and "Willing and Ready" - May 29, 2004
o Robert Schuler, "Thaw, 2003, Stanton Township" and "The American Millenium" - June 26, 2004
o Judith Strasser, "Apostle Islands History" and "County Road" - July 17, 2004
o Marilyn Taylor, "Surveying the Damage" - June 19, 2004
o Mark Vinz, "The Old Hometown" and "Midcontinent" - April 17, 2004
o Complete index to poems here

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