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Poetry for the People: New Pulitzer-winner Ted Kooser, America’s 13th poet laureate, gets us. He’s no suit sitting in an office consulting ancient texts. For 35 years, he worked in the insurance business. “I wrote each morning … and I often took my fresh drafts of poems and showed them to my secretary. … If she didn’t understand them, I went home and worked to make them more clear.”

Kooser received funding as poet laureate and founded “American Life In Poetry,” a free weekly newspaper column. Metro Times readers love to be talked to straight up, so we’ve signed up. Here’s our and Kooser’s premiere. If we don’t have room in print, find it faithfully on our Web site. Kooser is excited MT signed on — “This is wonderful news! … REALLY a start!”

American Life in Poetry

by Ted Kooser, U.S. poet laureate

We all know that the manner in which people behave toward one another can tell us a lot about their private lives. In this amusing poem by David Allan Evans, poet laureate of South Dakota, we learn something about a marriage by being shown a couple as they take on an ordinary household task.

Neighbors

They live alone
together,

she with her wide hind
and bird face,
he with his hung belly
and crewcut.

They never talk
but keep busy.

Today they are
washing windows
(each window together)
she on the inside,
he on the outside.
He squirts Windex
at her face,
she squirts Windex
at his face.

Now they are waving
to each other
with rags,

not smiling.

 

Reprinted from Train Windows, Ohio University Press, 1976, by permission of the author, whose most recent book is The Bull Rider’s Advice: New and Selected Poems. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

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