Poetry for Creative Economy Week

We asked poets from around the state to celebrate community and communities:

Amery Town
by LaMoine MacLaughlin, Poet Laureate of Amery, WI


Amery town wears a sugar white gown
 when lakes freeze in icy November;
Amery town wears a sugar white gown
discarding the green of September.

Amery town wears boots muddy and brown
when April rains thunder and clatter;
Amery town wears boots muddy and brown
from walking through wet grassy splatter.

Amery town wears her hair swirling down
when lilies burst orange in June;
Amery town wears her hair swirling down
at night bullfrogs croon to the moon.

Amery town wears a maple leaf crown
October winds howl overhead;
 Amery town wears a maple leaf crown
corn yellow and cranberry red.

Birkie Skiers
John Leighton, Hayward

Ten thousand Birkie skiers all alone
Anticipation more than they can bear
The strongest weep to feel the snow prepare
A day of dashings mixed with herringbone
Their thankful sight can hardly reach to where
The starting line begins their sacrifice
As they survey the other savoir faire
Whatever hell there is finds paradise

A man of snow is nonetheless content
No wish to stay inside, no alibi
Mere presence on the trail will glorify
The frozen water is his element
Main Street he melts enough to wet his eye
A trickle of the purest rain, a tear
For at this moment he’s surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love, and no more fear

Blacktop Jungle
Erin Carlson, Madisoncarlson

We used to run
through the blacktop jungle of our backyard
until our feet turned black,
and we had to walk on tar-filled cracks
to avoid getting blisters as big as pancakes.

As bonafide city-girls we never cared
that our jungle was lacking in the tree department,
or that instead of monkeys and tigers
we had cats,
and a family of bunnies under the garden shed.

We built our tree houses from scratch,
using nothing but chalk and blacktop
to scribble out our Swiss Family Robinson dreams.
We could imagine the trees, so tall they brushed the sky,
and the piranha filled rivers that lead to the ocean.

We didn’t need to see our jungle
to know that it was there.
We ran wild through our blacktop jungle
laughing at the tigers,
and waiting for the day we’d be tall enough
to cast shadows for our imaginary trees.

Some pity me,
for my childhood running around blacktop
imagining trees,
not understanding that
my imaginary tree house village
with tigers and piranhas
is more precious to me
than any real live forest.

No, I have something better:
I know the magic of daydreams.
My world is limited by nothing more
than the bounds of my imagination
and my ability to see past what is
to see what could be.

My childhood was a crash course
in hope and dreaming
and I can make it through anything,
tiptoeing on hope filled cracks
so that I don’t cut my feet open
on the harsh realities of life,
because no matter how bad it gets
I can always imagine it better,
until it is painted across my reality
and becomes alive.

So as I travel on
I am not afraid.
My jungle is waiting for me,
all I have to do
is close my eyes
and dream.

Among Sand Hills We Are
Mary “Ray” Goehring, Montello

Time wraps its arms around narrow hour-glass waists
slides from what was into what will be
as we drift in the moment
sand hills
in our seasonal ballet.

Mississippian mounds mirror moraines
as the lupine dances from caterpillar to Karner Blue
the promenade of one past rising over the last
in clouds from 1000 Oneota camps
paying homage to the Great Spirit

Our spirit
then and now
on this Ice Age Trail
where Sandhills fly
we are.

Market Day at Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square
Kathleen Hayes Phillips, Milwaukee

At dawn the trucks arrive, filled with Hmong
families from farms outside the city
and before the bells strike, a market appears
along the sidewalk, alive with bright awnings,
cartons and baskets atop and beside long tables
Far from the hustle of selling and buying,
a bronze statue stands on a granite pedestal,

                       The Immigrant Mother
named by the man sculptor who caught her standing
still, determined to move forward,
one child tight in her arms, the other clinging to her skirts
Mothers across the square do not know her story:
how or when she arrived.
But the why they would understand

for they know the determined look on her face,
the children’s desire to cling to her skirts,
the terrible pull as they all move forward

January:  Sunny and Cold:  The Bus
Bruce Taylor, Eau Claire – Eau Claire Poet Laureatetaylor

It’s not a long walk except its cold,
but sunny, so some try it and we pass them,
huffing their shadows, hands over their ears.
No news is good news and there’s no news here.
She’s quite a talker, we say after she’s left,
busy about a Tuesday’s bills and errands
getting off where she always does
at an alley where an oil truck is usually idling.

So we talk about that all the way downtown,
a son on each coast who take turns calling
every other Sunday and her daughter married
and divorced two or three times by now.

Our stout soprano driver sings “I’m in the Mood
for Love” over cobblestone and railroad track,
her raucous vibrato across pot‑hole and frost‑heave
takes us where she’s going, and will bring us back.

Creative economy
Oscar Mireles, Madison – Madison Poet Laureatemireles

When John Howkins popularized the term
“creative economy” in 2001,
he applied it to the arts,
cultural goods and services,
toys and games,
and research and development.

When I first think of
creative economy
I remember traveling to New York in the late 70’s visiting friends living in artist lofts, spaces that had lost their regular purpose as factories and warehouses and helped revitalize neighborhoods that had long stood empty

When I think of the term creative economy now It is clearly how technology has merged with our many needs and wants getting a ride from a stranger used to be called “hitch hiking”
now it is the basic platform for the
business we know as Uber

Poetry in general
and the arts in particular
can force us to look at the world in a different way inspire us to take chances that might not ever seem possible

a creative economy
will only happen
if artists, engineers, architects and entrepreneurs see that we have erected false barriers between our respective disciplines and once we look beyond our differences the sky has no limits

Kimberly Blaeser, Burlington – Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2015-2016

Eat the upside down Vs of forest,
each small stuttering – – – – dash of rustic roads.
My pedals devour miles; my shaded eyes,
names: Big Foot Beach, Devil’s Lake.
The taste of mythology on my tongue,
this cartographic hunger. Now tip
the tiny cups ﮞﮞ ﮞﮞﮞﮞ of lakesblaeser
the blue spilling veins of ancient rivers.
Pause for fill at each crisscross view

/ / / / /  of bridges, of tattered railways
vanishing into planted fields of forever.
Inhale lingering scent of wild on onion—
this papyrus, this map of belonging.

Used Book Store
Susan Anderson, Baraboo

On the square in a Midwestern town
with coffee jugs set by the door
friend and passer-by: Come, sit down.
From ceiling to floor, row upon row
your fingers run across the cover backs
like a caress that lovers dare to show.

So this is where used books go to rest
but where do used words repose?
Read, spoken, often shouted, not the best?
Do they slip off to outer space, perhaps
recycled to some political mind fill
or just flushed out to sea in a lapse?

Perhaps they descend upon the musician’s chairs
for on certain nights melodies float
out and above the crusty shelves.

In this creative sanctuary syllables and notes
weave a rich, rewarding communal tapestry.

A Hint of Frost
Diana Randolph, Drummondrandolph

Down the hill he dashes
leading the flock,
the remaining cross-country runners
fanned out behind in V formation.

Although sunlight warms the green field,
trees glow bronze and golden at the edges.
September’s air holds a hint of frost.
He flies in the crook of the V,
inner compass guiding.

If the cheers of spectators were silenced,
honking just might be audible,
first ringing out from the leader
then the call from those lagging behind,
returning a salute of sound.