April from the Air

East from Denver International
brown and yellow country
gray cottonwoods trace
one wet creek.

A pig farm’s precise geometry
like a general’s decorations
or an old kitchen radio
barns narrow rectangles
runoff lagoon a square, cola-black.

Dropping over suburban Chicago
faintest green beginning leaves
pink-white ring of petals
under a tulip tree.

Six minutes from O’Hare
to cross Lake Michigan
the beach a rind of sand
Ludington Point nosing west.
Clouds build halfway over
gray weather for Michigan again.

Lake Erie twenty minutes more
America’s rusting engine
tangled tracks in the railyards
refinery flares and smokestacks
cooling towers pumping steam along the shore.

Over the Appalachians
a mountain’s coming down
soil from inside it copper-green.
Brown ranges alternate with grassy valleys
red lace of logging roads
across the clearcut peaks.

Flight attendants gather trash
as the captain reads the weather.
A silver flash of river meander
cul-de-sacs and parking lots
materialize from wooded hills.

Lines Composed Above a Burning Tire Shop in Nashville, Tennessee

Candi had a friend who had a scanner
and told us about the fire.

A crowd was there already, on the balcony
of a building across the street

and the shop was fully involved, belching smoke
black as carbon, the blasting flames

fed by the entire inventory,
rubber sizzling up as liquid fire.

If the water hoses had effect we couldn’t tell.
The October night was a smear of orange,

the heat like sunburn from across the street
until the police came up and made us move along.

Candi had done this dance before,
and called the cops by name. Almost as fun

as night court, she said, another alternative
to country bands and bars.

After hotcakes at an all-night place,
she said she had work in the morning

then danced into the night while I drove north
and slept in the car through Kentucky drizzle.


William NotterWilliam Notter’s collection Holding Everything Down (Southern Illinois, 2009) won the High Plains Book Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.  His poems have appeared in journals including About Place, Alaska Quarterly, AGNI Online, Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, North American Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Terrain.org.