Susan Birkeland Poetry

January 18, 1961 ~ Nov. 18 2006)

On Being from Hibbing

How did Dylan get to be so hard?

Born in a town that lived on mining the ore
for two world wars

lips flat and dry

hard becomes beautiful
and cold,

so you won't forget.

Press a chunk of black snow
against the blue veins at your wrist.

Hold it there til it aches
like them miners in winter
digging and scrapping
her insides into the nails
of your own personal Jesus.

Then walk away.

Like she"'ll always be inside out.
Like we've got no choice but to live off
the scrapings of the Mother's frozen belly.

Walk away.

Because you can.
Because the town never changes.
Because an ache can go so far and no farther.

Get away from this Boondoggle of a Town.

Tell them you're from New Mexico
where the desert opens even the ice pick heart
of the proud Senorita Suzanna.

Thaw yourself out.
Listen to the radio.
Read Verlaine.

Find the tail of your own black coat
Down the cold suffice of a pedicured.

Nail this to the foreheads-
the Down side of Everything Civil
waits under every banquet table
crapping and scrapping
a blind carrion red
iron red
road kill red

drops on the sidewalk

take a miner to bed

Bruised ribs?
That's a circle hard to escape.

Bruised Angels?
This is the world you're living in.

The ore of Hibbing was made into a screechin' killer's machine
Baby are you listening?

Just outside of town there's an iron pit of whisperless whispers
where you can hear the songs of a thousand dead men's dreams.

©Susan Birkeland

This poem was included in The North Coast Literary Review Naturas Issue (2006) edited and published by Vincent Storti, San Francisco editor, publisher, artist and poet.