Saturday, August 21, 2004


by John Rezmerski

Predicting tomorrow’s weather is chancy business,
       let alone a five-day forecast.
No matter what the TV says, taking an umbrella to work
       is thinking on your feet.

Catching by eye the lifting of red-winged blackbirds
       in the evening,
I continue my daily exercise along a busy road,
       foot by foot.

I have a friend who remembers when he was a child
       in a bathtub
keeping his legs still, under water and bubbles,
       fearful of seeing his bare feet.

He kept fixing the shingles on his roof, which
       leaked half the time regardless.
He sought professional help after the ladder slipped
       and he fell twenty feet.

The floor sloped. He got out his saw and went to work,
       tired of tilted coffee in his cup.
Making a permanent decision, he temporarily trimmed
       two of the table’s feet.

The land where he lived was flat, and that’s how
       he wanted everything else.
He wanted someplace he could say it’s where he stood
       on his own two feet.

The prairie in my mouth, stem by stem, corn crop
       and bean harvest, fat pig,
is the place I call my own, a place where I like
       to think there’s solid footing.



by John Rezmerski

My eyes welcome high grass,
green going yellow
shooting up
from old old earth
fed with hard-earned blood
and bled sweat.
This soil now marked by tractor tires
fed Amos Huggins in 1862
and feeds me now,
feeds you,
and the blood it has swallowed
never spoils the corn.
It is the magic of that blood,
red cells and white cells,
and clear yellow fluid
falling on the warm black earth,
that keeps legs pumping
up the valley and over the bluffs
to mourn the innocent,
to cherish the giving,
to pray with fast breath
to the breath of the land,
nitrogen rising
from remains of quiet and boastful alike,
seeping into the roots of rosebushes,
the strength of wheat,
the warmth of beans,
the sweetness of corn and pork,
the plumpness of lovers,
into children of grass and grain
and the spirit of the blood,
hundred-proof blood,
drunk-making blood,
man-making blood,
blood contaminated only by blood,
into the children of the eye,
of the spleen,
of the brain and the voice,
into the welcomers of grass,
welcomers of dawn
on the blue and brown earth,
welcomers of silence
and forgivers of fire and the plow and old murders.

"Some Good Things Left After the War with the Sioux" is reprinted from Heartland II: Poets of the Midwest, ed. Lucien Stryk, Northern Illinois University Press, 1975; reprinted by permission of the poet. Writer and storyteller John Calvin Rezmerski lives in Eagle Lake, Minnesota. Red Dragonfly Press recently published his "The Sheriff Next Day Answers the Reporter" as a chapbook. His most recent full-length collection, What Do I Know? New and Selected Poems, is available from Holy Cow! Press, P.O. Box 3170, Mount Royal Station, Duluth, MN 55803.


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 Susan Firer, "The Bright Waterfall of Angels" - August 14, 2004
o R. Chris Halla, "My Prairie Wedding" - June 5, 2004
o Karla Huston, "Night Swim" and "Summer Storm" - July 31, 2004
o Loren Kleinman, "Formaggio" and "Jetsam" - July 24, 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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