I'm grateful for the amazing music faculty we have at SMSU. Dr. John Ginocchio, conducted the SMSU/Community Concert Band and the SMSU Jazz Ensemble. Dr. Stephen Kingsbury conducted the Bella Voce and Men's Glee Club and the SMSU Concert Choir. Dr. Daniel Rieppel conducted the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra.
Poetry was a new addition this year. In between the great music, SMSU's Dean of Arts and Letters, Dr. Jan Loft, read poems by SMSU English faculty past--Philip Dacey, Leo Dangel and Bill Holm--and present--myself--which I've posted here with permission. It was an honor to have one of my poems read along with these writers who I have admired and who helped to create such a strong tradition of creative writing at SMSU.
May you be blessed to find these darkest days of the year brightened by the magic of music and the power of poetry.
The Animals' Christmas
They are always living
Though they walk years
through a field
they can never step
out of the birth of a god.
In each dark brain
sending light through their sinews
leads their hooves
forward from one miracle
like the bright eyes
of uncountable millions
a field has borne.
When they rub a tree,
a secret myrrh
descends onto their backs.
They carry and offer it
without even trying.
From their nostrils
they breathe good news.
(first published in The New York Times on Dec. 21, 1970 and subsequently reprinted in How I Escaped From the Labyrinth and Other Poems, Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1977.)
One Winter Night
A farmer sits on a kitchen floor,
building a toy barn for his son.
The farmer uses wood
from peach boxes and apples crates
because it costs nothing.
He straightens the old nails
and hammers them into the barn,
explaining to the boy
how a ridgepole
will make the roof solid.
There's a blizzard outside,
the kitchen window looks black,
and snow grains brush against the glass.
The barn, made of free wood
that could easily split and splinter,
comes together strong
because of the habits in the man's hands.
The son's barn on the kitchen floor
has the proportions and shape
of the man's huge red barn outside,
except that, on the small barn,
the man uses some gray paint
left from painting the porch floor
two summers ago.
He explains to the boy,
there is no leftover red paint,
and the boy, because he is the son
of this man,
knows that the logic of a gray barn
(from Home from the Field--Collected Poems, Spoon River Press, 1997)
-after Stephen Chbosky and Baz Luhrmann