Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Today, the Traffic Signals All Changed for Me
Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate
Today’s featured poet is Martin Steingesser, Portland’s former poet laureate. His ecstatic poem celebrates a morning on the road, paying tribute along the way to two American poets noted for their own ecstatic celebrations.
Today, the Traffic Signals All Changed for Me by Martin Steingesser
It’s all language, I am thinking on my way over the drawbridge to South Portland, driving into a wishbone blue, autumn sky, maple red, aspen yellow—oaks, evergreens stretching out in sunlight. Isn’t this all message and sign, singing to us? When I open ears, listen with eyes wide open, the world tumbles in, suddenly a rush through my body, how tires zummmmm across a bridge grating, sending vibratos along limbs, out fingers and toes. Even these dead things we make: cement walkways, macadam streets, all our brick and steel and rubber, even these are alive. Sometimes I feel so empty. Today, I am filling up, the way this Indian Summer morning keeps fattening on sunlight, feelings, words frothing like yeast. Blue sky rises in my blood, geese and monarchs migrating through; my love’s an open field, meadows of goldfinch, Anne’s lace, new moon and crow laughing…Tornadoes collapse in a breath, oceans curl at my toes, galaxies exploding in my heart. Am I going loco? I pull over onto the roadside, cars and trucks whizzing by. I can’t get places I thought I was going. I think of old Walt, quadrupeds and birds stucco’d all over. Why not? And you, too, Allen, gay, locomotive sunflower laureate, both of you, among the leaves, in your all-star colors, hitting all the curves, belting poems out of the century. O look!—this is what’s happening.
Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2012 by Martin Steingesser. Reprinted from Brothers of Morning, Deerbrook Editions, 2012, by permission of Martin Steingesser. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-228-8263.