George Stevenson

In My Home Town Before TV

The Main Street of my home town
sloped down to its few flat blocks
of stores and shops, then stopped
at fields of corn and forage crops.

Three times a week Virg Harbison
climbed his dented ladder to place
block letters on the movie marquee
that announced Technicolor films
coming to its single screen.

From velvet seats in the theater’s
sequined-ceiling cave, we entered worlds
beyond our plowed land and tasseled corn.
French musketeers with clanging swords,
ships straining under billowed sail,
ragtime and symphonies, dancers
barely dressed, and men kissing women
on cliffs that overlooked pounding surf,
a million miles from where we sat.

It was a siren call that found us
not lashed to any mast.


I wash the coffee cups
in the summer cottage
a family of mice own,
and loan to us on weekends.

We pay for heat and food –
graham crackers, apples, cereal.
We fix the roof.

They run through cabinets,
explore cups and saucers,
build nests of purloined pasta
in our bed, shells and elbows
carried piece by piece from
the torn bag in the kitchen.

As long as we do not disturb the balance,
we may live in their space, clean the
coffee cups as often as we wish.

George Stevenson came late to poetry–in his mid-fifties. He writes narrative poems on the changing Midwest. He tries to make them accessible and trusts themes with broader meaning will emerge. Raised in farming country in Missouri, he and his wife live in Evanston, Illinois.

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