Michigan

In 2017, Marcel "Fable" Price was named poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Price will serve a three-year term.

Also in 2017, Dennis Hinrichsen was named poet laureate of Lansing, Michigan. Hinrichsen will serve a two-year term.

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Ars Poetica

—Detroit, Michigan

Broad-ribbed leaves of the calathea plant
trickle water down into the mouth of its pot
as if it's still fighting off competitors in the wild

as kittens scamper past, the knees of their 
hind legs bending backwards with inhuman
ease, like teenage boys leaping for rebounds

on playgrounds, their hourglass sleekness
glistening like the shards of forty-ounces
littering the court: sons of southern

autoworkers still unfamiliar with the Michigan
that has taken them in, girls watching
from windows as they care for the children

of older sisters. The act of wanting offers
only the hope of movement, for every target
an aim, lives spent in the in-between,

multitudes of coexisting in this particular filament
as if no other were possible—American engines
turning in a summertime traffic jam, white clouds

from factories as if shift whistles sent them forth:
the mind propelled by possibility and promise,
an unbreakable stasis. The person who wanted us

has come and gone several times like a tulip
bulb's inhaled and exhaled lives: desire,
the seed itself, creating. See what others

see in us, that gem which no one owns,
our skin a concept, a bloom of imagination
like one's own yearning unfulfilled—unchecked

as poison ivy, the fumes of its combustion
more dangerous than the vine ignored.
Boys want shots to drop. Girls want

what's through the window, not anything
close by or far afield, just the usual.
Cat-backed Swedish and German automobiles

scoot down the boulevard, someone
else's barbecue cooking across the street.
Desire never lies beyond what's given.

I have hated the second-hand world. Who was
that person divided between the glances of passersby?
Bodies decompose, even in memory—

the hand-in-hand of melted hourglass,
bloody hips of gifted tulips detached
and traveling the earth, until the mind

puts an end to them like breakers
washing out to sea. "Fine neighbors,"
someone will say. "Quiet types,"

because no one really knew them
until the press run. Packing kernels inundate
the universe: far off, coalescence; close in,

vibration and sparking. Upon 
each smooth surface, each body,
Picasso portraits, light and dark.

Packet

A green light that comes
when you never saw it coming, never
heard it, felt it, but you knew it

like the woman in the sandlot
behind Abram's Grill
who's just lost her lenses, 
on her hands and knees, her 
hair cut short but seems as if 
it's flowing, and the rush 
on her throat like a rise
from birth, the music in the car
 
as the engine goes silent
while you fold down a seat
for the stashed beam lantern 
with its yellow plastic grip, six 
Ray-O-Vacs, the
movement in the trees 
beyond Lake Michigan. It's

a wave like that
when the wind gets lost 
and the mail-boat from Racine, three
hours late, cracks into a tanker,
where the crew, like you, has
waited on the decks, in the hold
for two months out, to send

a message home—or to get a
certain scent, for just one instant,
of weeds, in the dirt, the both
 
of you groping.

Along with Youth

A porcupine skin,
Stiff with bad tanning,
It must have ended somewhere.
Stuffed horned owl
Pompous
Yellow eyed;
Chuck-wills-widow on a biassed twig
Sooted with dust.
Piles of old magazines,
Drawers of boy’s letters
And the line of love
They must have ended somewhere.
Yesterday's Tribune is gone
Along with youth
And the canoe that went to pieces on the beach
The year of the big storm
When the hotel burned down
At Seney, Michigan.