Is it Tuesday? Every Tuesday a new poem appears in the box and on the blog.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poem 3! Local Poet Kris Bigalk

Today's poem is "Senor Squirrel" by Kris Bigalk, whose first book of poems, Repeat the Flesh in Numbers, was released this month by NYQ Books.  “Señor Squirrel” originally appeared in Pif Magazine (, and also appears in Kris Bigalk’s poetry collection.

Señor Squirrel

by Kris Bigalk

The habeñero peppers were no accident.
I grew them
especially for you,
to watch you pluck a bright yellow bonnet,
turn it over in your hands like a topaz
or tourmaline, then sink your bicuspids
hard into the flesh, only to throw
it three feet into the air, your mouth
on fire with my revenge, tail stiff
and high as you raced for your burrow
as I laughed, counting the losses
I had suffered at your paws – tulip bulbs,
sunflower heads, sleepy mornings
interrupted by your family arguments
in the tree outside my window…

Me gusto, Señor Squirrel.

Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota's Poet Laureate, on Repeat the Flesh in Numbers: "Rewriting Eve, rewriting her own life, Kris Bigalk doesn't shy away from anything. She takes on the sordid and the beautiful, the scientific and the biblical, the mathematical and the musical. These poems celebrate "the imperfect, the mortal," loving it for all its wild complexity."

Kris' poems also appear in the photography/poetry anthology Open to Interpretation: Water’s Edge.  Recent issues of Rougarou, Pif, Hip Mama, Blood Lotus Review and Silk Road literary magazines feature her poetry and reviews.  Kris serves as Director of Creative Writing at Normandale Community College.

For more information about Kris’ poetry, including upcoming readings in the Twin Cities, please visit her webpage at

What I love best about Kris' poems is that in addition to their very fine craft--somehow she always finds just the right word, just the right sound--is that they embrace a life-affirming humor.  They might be revealing a brutal truth about human experience, but always the reader finds a wry smile, too.  We are all in this together, Bigalk suggests, so we might as well enjoy the ride.  

Buy this book!  Local authors need our support!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Second Poem!

This week's poem is "Homage to My Hips" by Lucille Clifton. Clifton died of cancer on February 13, 2010 at the age of 73. She was a fearless, funny, irreverent poet who wrote poems that are accessible and powerful.

Here's a tribute to Clifton by the poet Gerald Stern:

"I want to give thanks to the dear woman who suffered so much. To her wisdom—like no other; to her presence—like no other.

I want to thank her for her humor, her memory, her stubbornness, her honesty, her grace, her anger.

She will walk along some river—where else?—and she will know her way home by how the air feels, by the wind.

There was nothing like her; there was no one like her. No one will cry mercy like her.

This is the poem of hers I am reading today, from The Book of Light.

it was a dream

in which my greater self 
rose up before me 
accusing me of my life 
with her extra finger whirling 
in a gyre of rage at what 
my days had come to. what,  
i pleaded with her, could i do, 
oh what could i have done? 
and she twisted her wild hair 
and sparked her wild eyes and screamed 
as long as i could hear her 
This.  This.  This."
And here's a link to a very complete biography and bibliography of Clifton:


Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Welcome to Poem in a Box, a project to share poems with neighbors and passersby. Every Tuesday, a new poem will appear in the poem box in front of my house. My hope is that lots of people will grab a copy of each week's poem as they walk past.

Here on the blog, I will write a little bit about the poem and post links for people who would like to read more about the poem/poet. Eventually, I hope to take requests for poems for the box. We'll see how it goes.

As you might have guessed, I love poetry. I am an English teacher and a writer, and I have always believed that people think they dislike poetry way more than they actually do. The idea for this project came to me while walking through my neighborhood. I walked past a house with a plastic box with red letters across the front: Information. The box was empty. Usually, we see those info boxes alongside realtor's signs, but this house didn't seem to be for sale. I felt a visceral sort of enjoyment in imagining what kind of information might be available there in the front yard. Information. Could be anything.

Then I began to see those sweet little free library boxes show up. It occurred to me that maybe people don't want a whole book. Maybe the information I could give out could be poems. So, with a nod to Justin Timberlake, Poem in a Box was born.

Ultimately, the project is for pure enjoyment. Please feel free to post comments about anything related to the project here on the blog. I look forward to hearing from you and keeping the box filled with poems.

First Poem

"Under a Certain Little Star" by Wislawa Szymborska

Szymborska just died on February 1 of this year, and I thought I should start this project by honoring her, truly one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. If you'd like to learn more about her, here's a link:

Here's a nice link to a story from NPR which mentions this poem (in a different translation):

Soon, I'll learn how to make hyperlinks on here. I promise.

Enjoy the poem. If you have questions or comments about it, post them. I love this poem because it illustrates so beautifully the space between the individual and the world, the ways in which we all share suffering, but not at the same time or in the same way. As the best poems do, it raises difficult questions, but does so lightly. "Forgive me, far-off wars, for carrying my flowers home" seems about as apt a description of the ways most of us experience war from safe lands as I've ever read. Killer poem. Buy her books. Enjoy.