2 Poems

Several months ago, when Nancy Rafal and I headed down to Fort Atkinson to attend the First Ever Lorine Niedecker Poetry Festival, we went to an open mic connected to the festival. Robert Nordstrom was one of the poets who read and, in an evening of excellent poets reading excellent poems, I found Robert’s work particularly moving. Here are two of his shorter poems. ~ HCT



The Space Between


The hawk understands

in its ascending arc

the weight of the earth

and the attachments she defends


but the sky presents other problems

shifting currents…directionless expanses


like the space between your breasts

or the dreamy glaze of your eyes

as we ride these currents upward

tethered to the occasional posture of desire


to rise but not arrive

to fall but never land

the restless soul searches for

release that will not come


and so we turn

a slight turn…barely perceptible

and are embraced by

the sacred monotony of breath itself




Shifty Meininger


It all starts with a doodle,

always a doodle,

triangles with convex

or concave supports

burdened beneath the weight of

blacked-in circles

whose imperfect circumferences

grow larger and larger

as the hand tries to

steady the mind until

– voila – there’s an eye a nose, or

even, just now, a marble and

– voila again – Shifty Meininger,

the best shot on the playground,

his skinny as a doodle ten-year-old self

leaning back, right foot cut

inward and inching up

to the scratch I scratched

with a stick in the dirt,

left eye shut,

right one squinting

on my prize cat’s eye boulder,

holding that shiny silver steely

I’ve coveted since it spilled out

of his bag delicately between

thumb and finger finger,

and I’m thinking

what kind of fool puts up

his prize cat’s eye boulder against

a guy named Shifty

as he slides his hand

forward and back

forward and back and

– voila – lets it fly

true, too true, splitting

my cat’s eye right in half

in an odd kind of Sunday School justice

that makes me think of

wise old King Solomon

and how I should have told Shifty

as he was eying up my cat’s eye:

Stop, just take it, go on take it,

it’s yours.


Robert Nordstrom is a poet, freelance writer and school bus driver living in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. His goal for the school year is modest, though a bit subversive, and that’s to teach high schoolers how to respond to an adult who says good morning. Thus far, limited success.