I questioned whether I was going to name a Poet of the Week today. Paged through a pile of books on the floor in my office, and didn't find anything that grabbed me. Went through poets in my head that usually call out to me. Sharon Olds. Galway Kinnell. Billy Collins. Bin Ramke. Nope, nope, no thank you, and nope again.
Then I did an Internet search for "Contemporary American Poets." I found a Website with a pretty extensive alphabetical list of the usual suspects. Narrowed my search down to poets born in the late 1960s. And I found Jennifer Reeser.
The poem below intrigued me for obvious reasons. I can't resist a writer who uses Christian imagery in new and fracturing ways.
So, Saint Marty crowns Jennifer Reeser as Poet of the Week.
Good Friday, 2001, Riding North
by: Jennifer Reeser
Yellow makes a play for green among
the rows of some poor farmer's field outside
the Memphis city limits' northern edge.
A D. J. plays The Day He Wore My Crown,
not knowing it entices into tears
this woman never once disposed to travel
the holiday before. My children squander
unleavened bread brought forth from Taco Bell.
What sacrifice of mine could be worth mention?
Enshroud it. Christ's is death enough to mourn.
Casino Aztar, Blytheville slide from view,
their souvenir and deli stations yielding
to miles of scrub-packed, newly-cultured meadow --
the man beside me rushed at the expense
of all around him.
Gripped by sentiment
at being once again in this, the country
his innocence absorbed, he sings the songs
of artists prone to praise the great Midwest,
prodigal farms and wheat. My eyes are burning.
An eighteen-wheeler whip has somehow managed
to drive his truck straight up a grass embankment
which rises to an overpass ahead.
It lingers there, a sacrament of chrome,
as I make peace at length with pink crape myrtles,
white baby's breath in bloom, whose counterparts
have two months past surrendered back at home.
How long were they bent down, exhausted, jealous
for what could not be theirs, before they fell?
And did the lilies of Gethsemane
cry out with all their strength for God's relent,
or were they sweetly mute as these I see?