Picture by Cathy Dee
Search your imagination and find something in your world that you see as beautiful…. but others might regard as ugly. Now write a poem about what your thoughts have uncovered.
How often do you hear the Midwest referred to as the 'Rust Belt'? I hate that name. It's ugly and untrue. So, I wrote this.
Don’t look down: Thirty thousand feet below
lies a country you’d rather not see,
full of people you’d rather not meet.
You know: The places the pilot never
announces. ‘Everyone, if you’re sitting
on the right-hand side of the plane,
you can see the endless cornfields
in the highly agricultural and
terribly flat state of Indiana.
Soon we’ll be over the rust-belt
capital of the Midwest, Chicago.
Luckily, we won’t be stopping here
on our way to sunny California,
full of beautiful movie stars, rugged coastlines,
and the geniuses of Silicon Valley.’
Fly on, you right- and left-coasters,
you American snobs. Leave to us
this midwestern motherland:
The verdant checkerboard of
sweet corn and soybeans
that nurtures a nation and the world,
the fields of dreams of the smart,
hardworking men and women
who drive the tractors and order the
seeds and manage the land
that gives so much.
Leave us our diaspora cities, divergent
and diverse, busy, big-hearted,
determined to succeed
even when their lifes’ blood industries
shutter and run.
Leave us our great, sprawling lakes,
our sinuous rivers, our hardwood canopy,
glacial plains and moraine hills,
our mercurial, tempestuous weather --
Leave us -- all we Buckeyes, Hoosiers, Illini, Cheeseheads
and more, leave our big universities, our unexpected
culture, our music, our art, our museums and
Just fly on: We turn our broad and brawny
shoulders away; we are busy
building, breaking, rebuilding ...
bragging, laughing, planning
bare-headed and singing* --
and, fellow passengers?
Your captain suggests that
on some trip soon, you
look out your windows,
*Carl Sandburg, 'Chicago'