Group Poem
           "Potluck"

            Volume 43 ~ 2021
                  

1.

 

The land of

Home grown businesses, 

Small town pride, 

And Runza for dinner. 

 

The home of 

Glorious landscapes of

Flowing fields, 

And people’s love for their state.

 

We are unique, 

But most importantly,

 

2.

 

Nebraska is small town pride,

dedicated fans of high school sports,

decades-old school rivals, 

and exhausting nights of practice.

 

It is lightning bug filled ditches, 

endless highways,

the long drives spent counting windmills, 

and wide eyes when you see the capitol building. 

 

It is tractor feuds,

the decision between hamburgers and hotdogs,

cows behind my house,

and the guys’ questionable haircuts. 

 

It is Downtown brick roads, 

driving around for fun,

the lively childhood nights,

listening to stories from ones we love.

 

3.

 

Home is where you find your heart 

and where you long to stay

 

Where you long to stay is where

You find your family

 

Family is when you can smell your father cooking a steak on a Friday afternoon

Home is where you are truly loved

 

My home is family

Nebraska is my home

 

4.

 

Looking at my town is like looking at an ant

Landscapes are pieces of art made by Picasso 

The biggest city stretches farther and farther away

My town might be the size of a teeny ant

But we all know and love everyone in the colony

 

5.

 

Town spirits soar

And bustling main streets

filled with the town’s shops

Rodeoing in all weather;

rain, snow, heat, or cold

Binge-watching Yellowstone and Heartland

Looking out a car window and seeing

hay bales littering the ditches

 

6.

 

Tallgrass hills where cattle graze

and inhabitants yearn for Husker game days.

Where late night drives are as exciting as it gets,

and lines are cast into faded sunsets.

Where misunderstood snapping turtles reside,

the place to find painted turtles by the lakeside.

Where time is spent watching dog races

and baseball players rounding dusty bases.

It is the home of the garter snake

trying to avoid the homeowner’s rake.

 

7.

 

Friendly dogs sporting camo collars, masters at riding in the pickup bed. Stray barn cats and a mouse control service; paid in milk left on the doorstep, collected by noon. Bottle calves with wet noses, nudging and nudging and bawling. Hunting stands hidden high in the trees, run-down wood still put to good use. Hugging Dad, nose wrinkled, the sharp tang of chemicals invading. Uncles and combine rides, watching the green steed suck crops up for good. The roar of loud machines, a cacophony to buzzing ears. Shouting to be heard, trying not to laugh.

Old cake trucks, safety hazards on wheels. Red rangers and green gators fixing fences and tagging calves. A 4-wheeler’s rumbling growls, thumb cramping and roads to gun. A system of cattle trails, deep and winding. Mossy water tanks and wet, shaggy dogs with lolling tongues. Ticks and paranoia, mosquitos and irritation. Cowhide worn trees, hooves stirring dust and tires kicking gravel. Thick and heavy mud, getting stuck stuck stuck stuck. Tires spinning into 4-wheel drive. Watching the weather, chewing over it during morning coffee meetings at the truck stop, trading suits for jeans and overalls.

 

8.

 

You can experience all four seasons in one day

 

The state full of small towns,

 

Where everyone knows everyone,

 

The place where there are more cattle than people

 

The land of “ya betcha”,

 

Where you smile at everyone, just because it's nice

 

The state known for Arbor Day and sandhill cranes

 

Where people live in dirt-covered jeans,

 

And kids trap wart covered toads in old coffee cans

 

The place where small townhouses sell in the blink of an eye

 

It's the birthplace of the Ruben and Kool-Aid

 

Where country music dominates the radio

 

It's not for everyone,

 

But it's home

 

9.

 

I come from the music––

 

     where birds are buried

In sky; quiet grows like blush. It is not the song

 

A fence line sings before a storm. It is the motionless

Hum of wheat and grass; of prairie dog burying

 

His head in another––

 An endless tangle of fur.

 

10.

 

Where we map out our state by how far

 

we are from the next town over.

 

Where my mom gives a two-finger wave

 

to every stranger we drive past.

 

Where you either love seeing Sandhill Cranes,

 

or try to hit them on your way by.

 

Where if you bump into someone,

 

the only thing from your mouth is an ‘Ope, sorry!’

 

Where we recognize the smell of a feedlot

 

as the smell of money.

 

Where conversations last for hours,

 

even after we said goodbye.

 

Where they ask us absurd questions,

 

and think that we don’t exist.

 

I am from a state

 

where I cannot imagine living anywhere else

 

than where I was born and raised,

 

because of the friendly smiles and open arms.

 

11.

 

I am from a small town surrounded by gravel roads

topped with a new shade of sky

for each coming summer night.

I am from June evenings of bonfires

and cornhole tournaments,

accompanied by s’mores and warm Capri-Sun packages.

Sunday’s church clothes are exchanged after lunch

for swimsuits and bucket hats

atop boats on Harlan Lake,

where miles of flat grass

turn into slight hills of sand.

 

12.

 

Clouded-up cities

Where winter evenings are navy blue endings

People look in as they pass and proudly remark that there’s nothing else 

but yet ignore the cries of the children who resent cornfields and long to be loved for something different 

 

Small-boned high schools with worn yellowing bricks

Where the charismatic are loved

The quiet are avoided and the different are told 

They will never find anything other than the cage they resent

 

Helplessly flat horizons dotted with weathered houses

That shelter old ladies who smile at shy children in wooden church pews

And young men who try their best to grow and move faster than they can

To become something anything everything

 

Nebraska is familiar roads and highways with songs attached to them

Still-standing emptiness hanging from clouds on the weekends

Meanwhile hope tries to make for itself a new meaning

And lovers fight to keep it alive

 

This place is home only for those who claim it

It’s yours to decide

Don’t lose yourself among these weathered souls

And these yellowing minds 

 

13.

 

I was predetermined a woman—

cornstalk legs,

hometown soil eyes,

and a full moon soul

that touched the cotton trees.

 

I was built to be polite,

to over apologize

for everything except for my opinions

which bend like reeds in the wind.

They aren’t like others’.

The others’ are stronger

than the obnoxious stench of manure.

I was raised to wear dresses each Sunday,

to ride in truck beds gifting music to the town,

to guzzle Kool-Aid and inhale Wacky Packs.

 

It is obvious who I was meant to be

and everyone can tell you who I am

because I am Nebraska.

 

14.

 

Nebraska is Florida’s lesser shamed cousin, a joke passed through celebrities' surgically altered smiles. This place is not always nice. Sometimes it’s gossip hallways. Sometimes it’s belligerent interstate. Sometimes it’s breakups at pancake houses, milkshake stomachaches, dehydration from tears shed over undeserving lovers. If you look closely, if you linger, if you stay awhile in this state of blemish and bruise, you might glimpse a Canada goose nest at dawn. A patio glass of iced tea before it begins to sweat. A neighbor returning lost mail. A garden plot brimming with radishes, carrots, kale. A girl writing alone. A girl writing poems for the place she calls home.

 

*

 

Contributors in the order in which they appear:


Alizabeth McDermott
McCartney Elliott
Ely Pittner
Danica Ervin
Emma Grube
Jerzie Vap
Jacey Kent
Maxine Fickenscher
Tyler Michael Jacobs
Mercedes Holmes
Delaney Ham
Kylie Burken
Hope Anderson
Gina Tranisi