Hoosier Love Poems


We seeded our fields with salt.
We folded our hearts under
matchbook flaps and scratched
a spark from the strike strip.
We rose like burnt trash
over this bandwidth of corn.
Then we sang folks tunes
to the dog’s favorite storm drain,
the one where the Big Gulps
and squirrel guts slip
like ghost ships out of town.
Do you fear that we’ll be here
when the red curtain falls?
I’m resigned to getting plonked
by foul balls. At least we make love
in the embassy of our backseat.
At least we can shake
this new license plate loose
and imagine the sunroof
is a postcard of our western sky.
When I think of our state
I hit CTRL + ALT + ESC.


And what of our lovely kid?
He stocks up on snacks
and adopts neighborhood cats.
He parades the Roomba
around this Escher-like house
and grouses like I grouse.
(Our topics? Bad sidewalks,
no bookstore, the politics.)
Does he feel the frigid air
fill our cupboards in the winter?
Or trace a buzzard’s shadow
as it darkens a dormer?
We’re the sunlight that strikes
the glass chandelier—we
flitter about, more distraction
than mirror. And he’s what?
The rattling screen that precedes
a storm? Or the ductwork
that dissects as it warms, filling
us slowly, floor by floor?
Look closer, lean in: he’s here,
reading in our laundry bin.


You’re our real commonweal:
body that made his body
grow, last body I’ll ever need
to know. For all I swoon
to see you—flash of breast
post-shower, silver hair
tornadoed in a towel—I love
how you see through me.
(“Babe, it’s time for therapy.”)
You’re sunlight tumbling
under the waves—you raise
this shipwrecked sailor up;
you’re the steady gait
that keeps our troika’s pace;
you’re the chimney stones
left standing in a swale of corn.
Tonight, we’ll spill cocktails
in the town square. We’ll leave
our curtains up and strip
down to our fancy underwear.

Derek Mong is the author of two poetry collections from Saturnalia Books, Other Romes (2011) and The Identity Thief (2018). His chapbook, The Ego and the Empiricist (2017), was a finalist for the Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize. An Associate Professor of English Professor at Wabash College, he holds degrees from Stanford, the University of Michigan, and Denison University. His work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, the LA Times, the Southern Review, the Gettysburg Review, Crazyhorse, Pleiades, Court Green, the New England Review, and The Boston Globe. The recipient of fellowships and awards from the University of Louisville, the University of Wisconsin, the Missouri Review, and Willapa Bay AiR, he’s spending the 2022-23 academic year in Portland, Oregon with his family. He and his wife, Anne O. Fisher, received the 2018 Cliff Becker Translation Award for The Joyous Science: Selected Poems of Maxim Amelin (White Pine, 2018). He writes occasionally for Zocalo Public Square.

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