Wisconsin

In 2000, Wisconsin established a state poet laureate position, which is currently held by Karla Huston, who was appointed to a two-year term in 2017. Hutson is the author of the poetry collection A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag, 2013), which received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association.

Oscar Mireles was named poet laureate of Madison, Wisconsin, in 2016. Mireles will serve a two-year term.

In 2017, Roberto Harrison was named poet laureate of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Harrison will also serve a two-year term.

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Star Quilt

These are notes to lightning in my bedroom.
A star forged from linen thread and patches.
Purple, yellow, red like diamond suckers, children

of the star gleam on sweaty nights. The quilt unfolds 
against sheets, moving, warm clouds of Chinook. 
It covers my cuts, my red birch clusters under pine.

Under it your mouth begins a legend, 
and wide as the plain, I hope Wisconsin marshes 
promise your caress. The candle locks

us in forest smells, your cheek tattered
by shadow. Sweetened by wings, my mothlike heart 
flies nightly among geraniums.

We know of land that looks lonely, 
but isn't, of beef with hides of velveteen, 
of sorrow, an eddy in blood.

Star quilt, sewn from dawn light by fingers 
of flint, take away those touches 
meant for noisier skins,

annoint us with grass and twilight air, 
so we may embrace, two bitter roots 
pushing back into the dust.

Poem for Wisconsin

In Milwaukee it is snowing

on the golden statue 

of the 1970s television star

whose television house

was in Milwaukee 

and also on the Comet Cafe

and on the white museum 

the famous Spanish architect 

built with a glass 

elevator through it

and a room with a button

that when you press it

makes two wings

on the sides of the building 

more quickly than you might 

imagine mechanically 

rise like a clumsy

thoughtful bird 

thinking now

I am at last ready 

over the lake

that has many moods

to fly but it will not

and people ask

who are we who see 

so much evil and try 

to stop it and fail 

and know we are no longer 

for no reason worrying 

the terrible governors 

are evil or maybe 

just mistaken and nothing 

can stop them not even 

the workers who keep 

working even when 

it snows on their heads

and on the bridge 

that keeps our cars 

above the water 

for an hour 

in northern California 

today it snowed 

and something

happened people 

turned their beautiful 

sparkling angry faces up

Giraffes

After skimming the Sunday Times, Dad turned to the back of the magazine
and tore out the crossword puzzle for his mother in Wisconsin—

as routine as my calligraphy class on Saturdays, flute practice
exactly twenty minutes on school nights

and astringent twice daily. I loved the idea of puzzles
but never tried my hand as problem-solving rubbed up against rivalry—

red velvet cake, red velvet dress, trilling—

because nothing was never enough and yet
more than a small rectangular lawn and the pulsing marsh beyond.

A puzzle might've been escape enough. A maze—instead of crossword?

No, cross words were our puzzles, after all. Although my sister and I adored
jigsaw pieces. Five-hundred. A zoo, I think. Giraffes, absolutely.