Texas

In 1993, Texas established a state poet laureate position, which is currently held by Carrie Fountain, who was appointed to a one-year term in 2019. Fountain is the author of two poetry collections, including Burn Lake (Random House, 2010), and Instant Winner (Random House, 2014).

In 2019, Leslie Contreras Schwartz was named poet laureate of Houston, Texas. Schwartz will serve a two-year term.

In 2018, Octavio Quintanilla was named poet laureate of San Antonio, Texas. Quintanilla will serve a two-year term.

In 2018, Edward Vidaurre was named poet laureate of McAllen, Texas. Vidaurre will serve a two-year term.

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Texas poet laureaute
Carrie Fountain

Carrie Fountain is the author Instant Winner (Penguin Books, 2014) and Burn Lake (Penguin Books, 2010), selected for the National Poetry Series. She is the writer-in-residence at St. Edward’s University and the host of KUT’s This Is Just to Say. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Carrie Fountain

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Jim

You looked Texas today
road hard, scrubbed brush, blown tires
gasoline islands

But later California returned—fortune’s poster child
radiating. Truck full of gas,
cheap camera in the glove compartment
stuffed toys on the dashboard,
beads on the steering wheel,
a pretty girl’s picture—fatherly devotion.

What is lost when love ceases
is the power to forget

the early sweetness, the late bitter
talk, the longing for renewal—we all want
Spring, but

Spring does not want us.

Persevere, the skies murmur. Persevere
you weeping poets. You funny beasts.
Hopeful and hurting breathing dragons’

magic fire. Dry seasons last much too long
which is why deserts are vast. Floods don’t help,
but days of chilly showers make for blossoms pink,
blue, violet. A soft evasion.

Drink from the lake’s glacial cup. Hope for better
winters.

Migrant

Sunday takes us to the relic-boxes of small Texas towns,
their shops of Sears and Roebuck
            sewing machine stands,
bordello bedframes, and scrap-metal lawn art: a butterfly
stakes a Spartan garden
            with pollen rust.
Learning the hard way not to touch even the brass panel
of a swinging entrance
            door to cold beer
a rose catheterizing a vase, bloom achieved. None of these
wheel-hoops made overseas,
            none of the wind bearing
signals toward receivers. "What are you, unremember-prone?"
But as a clock-spring's
            reincarnated in
an obnoxious doorknob, squint-squeal, a drawer is shaking out
again its rubber bands,
            nails, batteries, twists,
razor blades, shoelaces, coupons, q-tips, to jerry-rig the butterfly
a sunflower. That's to say
            the armored flower
these Sabbath-shut antique shops show me in mirrors.
With a castle of black iron,
            very Louise Nevelson,
gears and ratchets and half-moon windows in turrets
buffered by a wall of copper beech,
            a moat of black mondo grass
and borders of purple wandering jew. If I thread the screw
in that will hold the weight
            of this world upon the wall,
the mirrors of the antique shops and the antique shops themselves
protest that we're not unpacked.
            That we may not be
before the buzzards sink, empty ink cartridges
of those translucent claws.
            Not fully.

tomorrow I leave to El Paso, Texas

see my brother-in-law with a styled shirt

in spite of his cancer below 

then a small dinner in the evening the next day

no one knows except I may be on the road

Mesquite where my father settled in '31

forty-five minutes west then a left you go in

sister Sarita waits for me on Abby Street

after decades in separate families we just met 

now I hear the clock snap I swipe an ant

time to walk my dogs five blocks and back

a different route to soothe the mind

it is the same one but I am hopeful