Poem of the Week | February 08, 2016

This week we offer you another poem from our new winter issue, 38.4. Jeffrey Bean is Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing at Central Michigan University. He is author of the poetry collection Diminished Fifth (WordTech) and the chapbook Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (Southeast Missouri State University Press), winner of the 2013 Cowles/Copperdome Poetry Chapbook Prize. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in The Antioch Review, Poet Lore, Willow Springs, Smartish Pace, Southern Poetry Review, and River Styx, among other journals.

Author’s note:

One thing I love about being a parent is the way it wakes me up to the sensory details of the world. As a father of a five-year-old, I find myself trying to see through my daughter’s eyes, and in doing so I pay even more attention than usual to corn, turtles, flocks of blackbirds, maples, apples, water, etc., noticing the beauty as well as the strangeness in these things. In the series of “kid” poems from which “Kid, this is October” comes, I like the way the mode of direct address allows the father-speaker to catalog many such details in the form of advice, encouragement, pseudo-fables, or, in the case of this poem, as a kind of lullaby. He wants the kid to open up to the world as much as possible and he also wants the kid to go to sleep, which pretty much sums up my experiences with parenthood so far. What has been most interesting to me in writing these poems is the way it puts me in touch with my own childhood. It has made me realize how crucial imagination has been in my life as a kid and how crucial it continues to be in my life as a father.


Kid, this is October,


you can make the maples blaze
just by stopping to look,
you can set your clock to the barks
of geese. Somewhere the grandfathers
who own this town lean down to iron
crisp blue shirts, their faces bathing
in steam, and blackbirds
clamor in packs,
make plans behind corn.
You know this,
you were born whistling
at crackling stars, you snap
your fingers and big turtles
slide out of rivers to answer.
You can swim one more time
in the puddle of sun
in your water glass, taste icicles
already in the white crunch
of your lunch apple. Go
to sleep. I’ll put on my silver suit
and chase the sky into the moon.