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I wrote this poem – Bill Kloefkorn, the state poet was one his way out to Grand Island [Nebraska] one time for a writing engagement out there. And I was sort of resentful that I hadn't been invited. And I thought I'd go home and write a real snotty poem about Nebraska, and have Bill read it out there in my absence. And I got home and I started to work on the poem. And I as the poem developed, I began to understand how much I really loved the state. This is that poem.

So This Is Nebraska

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

Ted Kooser – "So This Is Nebraska"

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Other Poems by Ted Kooser:

"Abandoned Farmhouse"
"Barn Owl"
"City Limits"
"The Great Grandparents"
"Great Plains in Winter"
"Horse"
"How to Foretell a Change
   in the Weather"
"In the Corners of Fields"
"Memory"
"Osage"
"Riding the Bus in Midwinter"
"Spring Plowing"
"There is Always a Little Wind"
"Tillage Marks"
"Zenith"