Category Archives: The Long Haul and Other Poems

National Poetry Month–Poetry in Their Voice, a Project

Haiku in Mother’s Voice

While I plant pansies
She dances round the plum tree
Floating in blossoms.

Weeding the bean rows
I guide the tiny tan hands
To nurture wild growth.

She grows like thistle
Flies like goldfinch and perches
Gently on my lap.

~poems by Kim Nixon

National Poetry Moth–Poems in Their Voice, a Project

Working

At my desk she sits
Propped upon two telephone books
Pounding the Underwood’s keys.

“Momma I wrote a story.
Can I read it to you?”

No, I need to add these numbers.

Later, I find her in the backroom
Sitting in curls of paper
Drawing twos and threes.

~poem copyright Kim Nixon

National Poetry Month–Poetry to My Mother

Cirrhosis

Wax crayons, guitar pics, stained glass, oils, pastels, charcoal, dark wine, gin, plum cordial-You in a coma, under your skin blood surfacing, ugly purple blotches-In death you are not creative-In death you are ugly, and it doesn’t matter if I color outside the lines in black, and it doesn’t matter if the guitar strings snap, or that I am alive and can write-Red crayon scrawling over your works-”Do Like this, like this, no like THIS!”-I broke your pics and brushes, watered down your gin, danced wild around the plum tree. You sang zippitee-do-da.

 

~poem by Kim Nixon

National Poetry Month–Legler Memorial Award, 1997

from The Long Haul

I’m bored with the 29 days in February

I want to tell the bus driver about watermelons
trucked from Texas and sold at a farm outside the village,
how I miss the blue of Cathead Bay,
that I’m riding the bus because
I fear running out of toilet paper, and
there’s a sale on Kleenex Double Roll at Wal-Mart.
I start to tell the bus driver
August in Northport
meant spiked watermelon at beach parties
and losing virginity in the sand,
but I fade-off before finishing and
watch the jackpine and bare tamaracks flash by.
The airbase is a ghost town;
soon couples will pick blueberries
and caress each other with stained fingers
and tongues.
I fear dependence
and public transportation,
and the young man in the back of the bus
who tells about his toilet habits,
how he once shit in the wastebasket
’cause every time the toilet overflowed
his dad strapped him.
I imagine purple welts
and his dog licking his face, but
my discomfort keeps my eyes on the bus driver’s back.
My husband has gone off to trucking school.
To stay warm on long hauls
he’ll wear his company coat.
I’ll curl up with the labs,
wait, take a mental count
of how many rolls of toilet paper remain in the cupboard,
and watch the ice break up on the Escanaba River.
I’ll write poems of love and loss
to read in August when
my mate brings home a truckload of exotic fruits.
Fruits, to suck on the sand shore
beside brown water,
where leeches hide and wood ticks
fall from the trees.

~poem copyright Kim Nixon

Winner of the Philip M. Legler Memorial Award 1997 at NMU.
First published in The Thaw: A Student Journal of Literature,
Vol 1 Issue I.

The Long Haul is a collection of poetry that you will not find in chapbook form (yet). The voice is the reflections of a wife during the first years of her husband’s search for employment in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and his choice to eventually become a over-the-road truck driver. The work is by Kim Nixon and is highly autobiographical and feels like a lifetime away now.

National Poetry Month–Prose Poems

From the Long Haul

III.

You returned home hauling three mausoleums ate dinner and departed for the Mackinaw Bridge, the Sarnia Bridge, and your destination in Ontario. I placed my hands on the black speckled granite, felt the coolness and shivered. Death comes in loads that take you to destinations I have never seen. I tinker with the lawn mower, replace the battery, the fuse to the ignition. Earlier I retrieved our oldest from camp. In a fit of anger, he ran away. A search party was formed and they found him wandering downtown Marquette. Crying. It is a search for you. Random. A race for clarity. As I hugged our son, he states he’ll take the shotgun and blow that damn truck to smithereens. He has taken to sleeping on the living room floor. I do not know why. And I don’t ask. I cut the grass as the rain starts to fall. I must complete what I have started before it is too late, before the grass gets the upper hand, and the 10-horsepower motor becomes insufficient to pull me. I grow heavy, and in your absence, despondent. I sleep with the windows open despite the cool nights to hear the semis slow on the highway curves, the sound of the jakes, a lullaby. Tell me you’re coming home. Tell me you’re coming home. Tell me you’ll never leave. The tombs you brought home remain. I mow around their presence. The rain falls. The grave site cannot fall into neglect. The flowers must be bright. Orange daylilies transplanted to the driveway entrance nod their heads in the wind. And they nod, yes.

~poem copyright Kim Nixon

The Long Haul is a collection of poetry that you will not find in chapbook form (yet). The voice is the reflections of a wife during the first years of her husband’s search for employment in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and his choice to eventually become a over-the-road truck driver. The work is by Kim Nixon and is highly autobiographical and feels like a lifetime away now.

National Poetry Month–Prose Poem

From the Long Haul

II.

On M-35 in front of the Department of Natural Resources, the windshield wipers slow, jerking to a stop, the radio quits, and the truck stalls. I turn the key over and over listening for a click, some sign of life. I think, what you’d do if you were here and pop the hood. But mechanics was your area of expertise. I am less pragmatic and stand in the downpour picturing your red Freightliner semi on some highway between Pittsburg and Milwaukee. It is the roads that connect us. Red and blue lights flash and I tell the officer that I’ve been jump starting this truck all day and there is nothing left in her. When the tow truck arrives, the driver asks why I don’t take it to the garage in town. I reply. I’m spoiled from the 14 years I had a live-in mechanic and to tow the damn thing home where it can wait for his return. Let it be a magnet, a beacon, let it guide him home.

~poem copyright Kim Nixon

The Long Haul is a collection of poetry that you will not find in chapbook form (yet). The voice is the reflections of a wife during the first years of her husband’s search for employment in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and his choice to eventually become a over-the-road truck driver. The work is by Kim Nixon and is highly autobiographical and feels like a lifetime away now.

National Poetry Month–Prose Poem

From the Long Haul

I.

You’re driving East on Highway 80 heading towards vast storm complexes blooming along the front of a weather pattern. I trace the names of towns that you will approach and pass, each dot on the map bringing you closer to me. Brining you home to lightening and hail and twisters that leave a wake of devastation. How odd it seems you hauling a load of timber from Salt Lake to Des Moines, as if contractors anticipated a busy season. I now pay great attention to roads. The white line blurs. The asphalt a dark mystic place where romance is dreamed and illuminated by headlights. The flashing lick of flame from the bedside candle sends shadows across this page I write on. The glow softens the dividing lines. Your travels are logged, checked, paid for. Mine have become the refrain from some melancholy country song. To love you requires dreaming of landscapes: prairies grasses and shear rocky cliffs, steep embankments and truck stops, jack-knifed loads on icy roads and winds that flip trucks to their sides. The Weather Channel is as important as the Rand McNally Atlas. I watch the Travelers Forecast, quickly calculate mileage, and pray storm warnings will be lifted before you approach. Risks. 21 days between departure and arrival. You curled in the sleeper berth. Me in the double bed turning toward a pile of pillows.

~poem copyright Kim Nixon

The Long Haul is a collection of poetry that you will not find in chapbook form (yet). The voice is the reflections of a wife during the first years of her husband’s search for employment in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and his choice to eventually become a over-the-road truck driver. The work is by Kim Nixon and is highly autobiographical and feels like a lifetime away now.

National Poetry Month–Self-identity as Writer

Window Dressing

Sitting at the coffee house
I find myself jealous of
throw pillows.

In the wide sunny window
red heart suckers dangle
by ribbons.

And I realize, like this
dressed up sofa
I’ve been window dressing
trying on the dreams of others
wearing silk and taffeta
listening to my rustlings
as I skirt responsibility.

When will I be happy with writer and poet?

~poem copyright Kim Nixon

National Poetry Month–Finnish-American Writer, Kim Nixon

Skating Figures

Laughing voices whip past in a snake line.
I pull my stocking cap over my ears,
re-lace my skates and spin off to a distant surface.
Practicing figure eights, I follow
blue lines of faces etched on the ice
until they end at mounds of snow pushed from the rink.
I want to see a reindeer, always wanted to see a reindeer.
I want to lay under hemlock trees and eat wintergreen
to freshen my breath.
This push through my veins recalls migration;
a nomadic urge to be with a distant people who follow
the herd, strip warm flesh from bone and suckle red meat.
Chants echo in circles over hills; I cannot translate.
Cracking, the surface plunges me into thick water
where figure eights above my head suggest
the infinite, and what, with time, possible.
I taste sweet syrup; I taste sweet blood.

~poem copyright Kim Nixon

I was adopted at 3 months of age into a family that was Dutch and German. Born in 1964 at Old Providence Hospital in Detroit I was born of a half-Finnish, Half-Swedish Mother and German Father. I have never met them. I have had no contact through the years. Yet there are images and memories inherent to me. Like the rings of a tree, ingrained within me, a heritage.

With my adoptive family every winter we skated. My mother loved to skate and my birthday being January 18th, I always had a skating party (whether I wanted to or not). often, melancholy, I would go off by myself. This poem arises from a mix of both heritages biological and adoptive.

National Poetry Month–Paper Napkins

Paper Napkins

You were already in love with paper napkins,
tracing lines and patterns with a tattered thumbnail,
a nervous habit borne of necessity.
Always the last at Grandma’s breakfast table,
refusing to eat cold eggs.

The day’s soup already started.
Soup sent out to shut-ins in mint green
and pale blue Tupperware with clear lids.
That’s when you learned to hate overcooked lima beans.

Napkins with words and patterns,
mysteries to you at age nine,
helping hedge back the screams you’d release
while hanging from tree limbs.
No one knew what to do with an inverted
daredevil nine-year-old girl with bruises
up and down her shins.

Rare resources those paper napkins,
worn thin, shoved in pockets and
placed on the dresser.
small offerings to a god that
would not tuck you in at night.
~poem copyright Kim Nixon

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