Friday, November 17, 2006

A Brief Poem for a Fall Day

There is an Ojibway cemetery in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, along a cliff above the southern shore of Lake Superior. Many of the graves there are little wooden structures--like tiny cedar houses--raised just slightly above the ground. I don't know what the story or tradition is; it may be that the ground is simply too rocky to be dug. The land is heavily forested and the roar of the lake is always in the air.

The following poem appeared in The Legal Studies Forum, a law review published at West Virginia University Law School. The poem is not included in the Figured Dark manuscript, but does appear in The Afterlight (WVU / Legal Studies Forum, 2006) a chapbook reprint of work that first appeared in The Legal Studies Forum. My thanks to Professor James R. Elkins, the editor of The Legal Studies Forum, for his interest in publishing the work of that strange breed, the "lawyer-poet."

In a Snow Squall on the South Shore of Lake Superior,
At the Ojibway Cemetery Near L'Anse, After Being Excluded From
a Special Issue on Exile on the Grounds that,
As an American-born Poet, My Experience is Insufficiently Authentic

I walk out among these cedar-shingled houses
of the dead, close my eyes against the cold
and dream of another country.


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