poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Ted Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa on April 25, 1939. He received his B.A. from Iowa State and his M.A. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He is the author of ten collections of poetry, including Delights & Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004), which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005; Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison (2000), which won the 2001 Nebraska Book Award for poetry; Weather Central (1994); One World at a Time (1985); and Sure Signs (Pittsburgh, 1980).

His fiction and non-fiction books include The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets (University of Nebraska Press, 2007); Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry (2003) written with fellow poet and longtime friend, Jim Harrison; and Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (2002), which won the Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003.

His honors and awards include two NEA fellowships in poetry, a Pushcart Prize, the Stanley Kunitz Prize from Columbia, and a Merit Award from the Nebraska Arts Council. In the fall of 2004, Kooser was appointed the Library of Congress's thirteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.

He is a visiting professor in the English department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He lives on an acreage near the village of Garland, NE, with his wife Kathleen Rutledge, the editor of the Lincoln Journal Star.

Flying at Night

Ted Kooser, 1939
Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like
his.

From Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985 by Ted Kooser, © 1980. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

From Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985 by Ted Kooser, © 1980. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa in 1939. He received his

by this poet

poem
The porch swing hangs fixed in a morning sun
that bleaches its gray slats, its flowered cushion
whose flowers have faded, like those of summer,
and a small brown spider has hung out her web
on a line between porch post and chain
so that no one may swing without breaking it.
She is saying it’s time that the
poem
Slap of the screen door, flat knock
of my grandmother's boxy black shoes
on the wooden stoop, the hush and sweep 
of her knob-kneed, cotton-aproned stride 
out to the edge and then, toed in
with a furious twist and heave, 
a bridge that leaps from her hot red hands
and hangs there shining for fifty years
over
poem
Each time I go outside
the world is different. 
This has happened all my life.

*

The clock stopped at 5:30 
for three months.
Now it's always time to quit work,
have a drink, cook dinner.

*

"What I would do for wisdom,"
I cried out as a young man.
Evidently not much. Or so it seems.
Even on walks I follow