Which of your submissions should be our state poem? [POLL]
After Sen. Bruce Anderson (R-Buffalo township) introduced a bill to make Keith Haugen's tepid "Minnesota Blue" the state poem, we asked you to do better.
And you did -- mostly. The submissions we got to our "Write the State Poem" contest included lines like: "birdhouses not from ikea, your grandfather made them/ menisota and womenisota equally," and "As if Portland is Minneapolis" (a poem that ended with, "You just got Ninja Mind Fucked").
Now, we've winnowed down the pool to four (those two didn't make the cut), and it's up to you to vote on which work should represent our 10,000 lakes in the poetry world.
Maybe none of them should. Maybe, as St. Paul's poet laureate Carol Connolly suggested in the Star Tribune, the best way to officially represent Minnesota's rich literary talents would be with a daily state poem. But barring that, now's the time to vote on whether any of these made you glad to know this state -- or at least made you laugh. We can't guarantee that the winning poem will wind up enshrined in the secretary of state's office, but we can promise a stack of poetry books to the writer.
Did you miss the deadline, but still have a haiku, sonnet, limerick, or sestina burning in your Minnesota-loving heart? Leave it in the comments below.
Here' are the top four, followed by a poll.
Poem 1: "Walking with the late Paul Gruchow," by Joshua P. Preston
Kind words and best wishes don't bring rain.
Subsidies won't end a drought. His spirit,
like the last boots he'll ever buy, wear
down down down in the dust.
"We never ran from change, but it sure
ran us out," he says. "There'll always be
somewhere to farm but there won't be farmers."
Footsteps scare out a ring-necked pheasant.
I ask what happened to the Farmer-Laborites,
the community, the culture. I've driven more
Interstates than walked desire paths, can
name more skyscrapers than native grasses.
Out on the wind everything I say is carried,
no telling where it'll end up or what marsh
it'll sink in. "I try not to dwell on it," he says,
"or there's bound to be a revolution.
Poem 2: "If Not River," by Weston Cutter
Minnesota I'm your river, I start distant,
in quiet, and I'm unfinished. I ache for scene's
completion, I'll flow till I get there and wonder
what I'll spill, when, where, etc. Minnesota
I rise and subside depending
on season, I swell and deserve
my own Army Corps to come install locks
to help with my overflow. Like water
is all or enough: Minnesota I'm made of 61 Highways
and have you heard how I sound
when my sky fluoresces? Sizzling in dark
and cold, that's what, Minnesota, shivers,
a whispering from the sky like a radio station
that died at sunset yet here we are, still
tuned in. I wonder about you, Minnesota.
I've ridden your hills and kissed your girls
and vice versa, I've let your winters finger me months
at a stretch, I've fallen for icy beauty, I've
gulped considering what lives in and/or through
such chill and I've dived into a lake's hole
to prove something about blood or toughness
or where I believe I belong and what I want
to know is this: Minnesota what if
I'm not river? What if I'm all boat?
Will you still love me Minnesota if I admit
that I, too, round up? That I don't have
ten thousand anything other than questions but I'm happy
to claim otherwise? All this water. All
that gouged fertility. Minnesota you wear
your trampled past well and don't let anyone fool you: it's not
nice, that flinty gaze you cast west to prairie, north
to another country, east to a lake bigger than sin
or the greatest awe but Minnesota neither you nor I
can pretend niceness was all we were ever after.
Click over to page two for the last two poems and the poll.
Poem 3: "Untitled," by Kevin Watterson
Holy balls it's cold
Come here and grow old
The summers though are really great
Our lakes and nature are first-rate
Our sports teams generally rate middle of the pack
Oh my god do we hate the Pack
The politics are kind of screwy
On humid mornings the grass is dewy
Mosquitos aren't as bad as they say
The Metrodome has had its day
So love us not
When it is hot
Nor leave the fold
When it is cold
But love our state
Until you move
Poem 4: "Minnesota Morning," by Suz Anne Wipperling
Rich history rises like fog along the riverbank,
singing with the light breeze through the oak leaves.
Under tender skies of lazy clouds
loon calls and an otter splash greet the dawn.
Woodpecker requests entrance to the hollow log
as the quail nests under the prairie grass.
Old hound trots along the deer trail,
past the wild Lady Slipper orchid nodding her head.
He sniffs the scents of the morning's traffic
where the rabbit left the trail for its hole.
A killdeer runs on spindly legs the other way.
Whippoorwill on the cattail calls a haunting warning
of fox kits peeking over their den near the forest edge.
The farmer is oiling his old Alice
remembering the Northern Lights
he and the missus enjoyed the night before.
Rooster struts slowly, head cocking left, then right,
but not challenging the old tom
as he cleans rangy fur in the sun along the barn.
Rough tongue smoothes down the past,
his one good eye watches the coming day.
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