April Poetry Month (Day 1): Karla Huston #npm17 #wppoets

sandy backdropeditKarla Huston, Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2017-2018), is the author of A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag: 2013) and winner of a Wisconsin Library Association Outstanding Achievement Award. She has published 8 chapbooks including Grief Bone, recently from Five-Oaks Press. Her poems, reviews and interviews have been published widely, including in the 2012 Pushcart Best of the Small Presses anthology. She teaches poetry writing at The Mill: A Place for Writers in Appleton, Wisconsin, and serves on the author’s committee for the Fox Cities Book Festival as well as the board of directors for Council for Wisconsin Writers and The Mill: A Place for Writers.


            after June Jordan

You bring out the Norski in me
the lefse and lutefisk
(which you won’t eat)
fiskesuppe meatballs in cream
krumkake sandkake
strong coffee poured in saucers
rosettes, rommegrot rullepolse
in me

You bring out reindeer
running fjords deer skinner at dusk
the deep blue
the red sunset and wool sweater
belled apron cloudberry
the Syttende Mai in me

uf dah
uf dah

You bring out the icy nights the dark
stars on fire Aurora Borealis the bear
and dipper the silver belt and apron too
the swish swish
ski pole
the telemark turn the snap bindings
in me

uf dah
uf dah

You bring out the Hallingdal in me

the acanthus curls, the scroll
the Rogalund
stroke fantasy flowers
the trunks
and tines in me

Even so, Thor the thunderer
of longships with naked woman prow
bearskin Drakkar
poison mushroom man

I will not be your dog or slave
not follow before the flame
Nei takk
I will not
burn in your eternal ship
You better find
someone else
to knit your mittens

Previously published in Verse Virtual 



They come out of the their houses
one by one wielding shovels and scoops,
pull-starting Toros, their faces hidden
under hats and broad flaps. At first
they’re intent on their tasks, clearing paths
and walks and driveways, determined
to get most of it before
the double-bladed plow comes through
throwing up a bigger mess.
Jim, with the big John Deere, tackles
the entire block. He waves hello,
his cheeks shiny and red,
his breath thick in front of him
Everyone stops to talk and gaggle,
and mill around to discuss the big one
and the bigger one last year.
Dogs porpoise through the piles,
chasing rabbits and digging holes.
Soon kids angel and throw, then tunnel
through drifts and heaps, relentlessly
carving—out of  white and cold—
whole new neighborhoods of ice and light.



I believe in the tangled hank of string,
the tail that snakes over a small box
of pretty flower greetings waiting
to be mailed.  I believe in the slant
tip marker, its thick sick smell,
the small sharpener, broken points
of lead collected in corners.
I believe in an old menu with coffee stains
and sandwiches like Boney Billy and The Narmer,
the chewed roll of black tape,
stained wine corks smelling faintly of grape.
Playing cards with shuffled edges, the lazy
red dice with white dots. I believe in the box
of tacks and bulldog hangers, in the needle-nose
pliers and small claw hammer –
in unfinished work, the dimples in the wall
and bent nails. I believe there is a way
to fix what is broken, a way to make use
of the useless. I believe if you dig deeply,
you will find what you need.   

Published in  A Theory of Lipstick, Main Street Rag Publications: 2013