Wanted: Someone To Write An Ode to a Urinal

Is there no one in Minnesota who can handle the job?


Why do so many poets live with their mothers?

Because most of our best poets are actually under five years of age.

Raoul Benavides


What is our most poetic neighboring state?



What is the most poetic bridge, building, or street in the Twin Cities?

There is a Keats Avenue in Woodbury, and I always wonder when I pass it just how his name fell on it and whether anyone who lives on it knows who John Keats is. Not that there aren't other Keatses in the world--rocket scientists, apothecaries and shipping magnates, I suppose--after whom that road might be named. Or maybe someone with a fine sense of humor thought it a good name for a melancholy place. Lots of yew berries, moths, and owls, that sort of thing.


What's the one civic issue that you would flatly refuse to write about?

The motorboat instead of the canoe on the state quarter.


Is all poetry good poetry?

Yes, absolutely, though the world wouldn't be the worse for a few less exclamation points.


"The Harriers"
Memorial Day, 2004

Low over the swamp birch and sweet gale,

the broad torment of their shadows fall

on the marsh's invisible busy and small.

Snakes and shrews ride the roots, mice lurch

from one tussock to the next. The many

always fodder for the few, their tiny

pointed teeth useless in the sky.


Toothlessness lightens the harriers' skulls,

so they lift like foam, and belief wants to go

with them criss-crossing the marsh.

But the harriers, laying their hollow

bones on the wind, are only beautiful.

The male floats backward on the air

of his own arrival, passing his catch

to his mate in the sedge and gives me

one long look as he sits in the dead tree

at the edge of the marsh, curved, owlish head

cocked, funneling the small teedle-dee

of a distant rodent to its ear. Harrier

is from harrow, to torment, harass, assault,

also a cultivating implement set with spikes,

for pulverizing soil. Significance falls apart

in my hands like a mist, though the harriersA

have warm blood and four-chambered hearts.


The world they are offers no architecture

for an ethic: one dead language simply

rises through another, raptor, rapture,

and rape for example, all sharing one

Latin root rapere, to seize. The harriers

are only beautiful and will not be pressed


into resurrections. Even the highly significant

snake, hanging like a thread in the sky's white

neverending, knows the beetle in its belly isn't

his own, and rides the talon of its captor,

who, when terror stands up and walks,

might be some sort of savior after all.


Ray Gonzalez


What living poet's work would you most like to pass off as your own?

Bob Dylan.


Most overrated dead poet?

T.S. Eliot.


Most underrated?

Kenneth Rexroth.


Who would you rather read: Rod McKuen, Leonard Nimoy, or Jewel?

Rod McKuen, a forgotten poet who did a great deal with the forms he chose to work with. His work is not light verse. There is a certain populist, personal maturity in it.


Please include here the worst couplet or short stanza you've ever written:

I was hungry and alive,
But all I tasted was the bee hive.

How many poems (by other writers) do you know by memory?



What rhymes with orange?

Gorgeous George gorges on gargantuan groves.


Please pen a very short limerick in favor of municipal trash pickup.


Trash Day

Nash, the trash man, picks up banana peels,

condom foil, the latest CD plastic wrapper.

Don't you know he needs more money because there

is more garbage than what you dropped in the crapper.

What are your three favorite words?

That's a secret.


Three least favorite words?

Chain of command.


What would be your first act as the poet laureate of Minnesota?

Outlaw poets from academic circles and universities.


Which local news personality has the most poetic name: Robyne Robinson, Rusty Gatenby, or Rick Kupchella? Please write a couplet using that name.


Rusty Gatenby in the red hair opens his mouth,

Tells us the only open highway points south.


Why do so many poets live with their mothers?

Because they are dysfunctional, antisocial misfits who never broke away from home. Because the written word tied them down and set them back a few decades. Plus, mothers know more about poetry than their children do.


Is Minnesota a good place for poets?

Yes, and it has a long, rich tradition of poetic achievement.


Is all poetry good poetry?

No, most poetry is bad because it keeps you at home with your mother, but you have to work at it and most people who want to write don't want to work at writing. They just want to "be." I guess that is okay, because if I wasn't, I would be here writing poems.


"Paul Westerberg Tunes His Guitar"

The First Avenue crowd sweating under the lights,

Westerberg in cut-offs and sneakers trampling

the roads of fame, tripping over plugged wires.

Westerberg singing into the mike, "Someone

take the wheel! I don't care where we're going!"

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