I live in Nebraska, where we have a town named Homer. Such a humble, homely name and, as it happens, the poet Donal Heffernan is from Homer, and here’s his hymn to the town and its history. Long live Homer. And while we’re celebrating Nebraska towns, let’s throw in Edgar, too.
Your village sleeps near the Missouri River
With your cousin Winnebago, both children of Lakotaland.
You kept your town at two stories, as flat as the surrounding prairie.
You taught the Iliad and Odyssey in honor of your namesake poet.
Your spirit outlasted the bleached fields of the Depression, and
Bravely swam against the raging Omaha Creek floods.
On warm, wet spring Saturday nights,
You provided dark places for your young
To launch your next generation
In pickups, unlighted.
Ted Kooser was US Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006. He is a professor in the English Department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He lives on an acreage near the village of Garland, Nebraska, with his wife Kathleen Rutledge, the editor of the Lincoln Journal Star.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2009 by Donal Heffernan, whose most recent book of poetry is “Duets of Motion,” Lone Oak Press, 2001. Poem reprinted by permission of Donal Heffernan. Introduction copyright ©2010 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
American Life in Poetry ©2006 The Poetry Foundation
Contact: [email protected].
This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.