March in Michigan and the Problem with Political Poems


March must be endured,
the lover intent on leaving
but not yet sharing her plans

for even on warm days
she looks over her shoulder
to plan her escape.

And so we barely dare dream of April
but on St Patrick’s day we plant
lettuce and radishes and peas,

an act of defiance and faith,
proof we have not surrendered
to cold and lonely March.

The view from my writing chair, early in a March snowstorm. Dexter, Michigan.

The Problem With Political Poems
I wrote a poem in 1998 which referenced the Kosovo War but a friend of mine – also a writer – advised me to omit the reference. “In twenty years, no one will know what you’re writing about,” he said. I think his advice was sound and I have largely avoided politics in my poems since then, but occasionally the provocation is too large to resist.


The unvaccinated crowd cheers
as the Congresswoman from Georgia
repeats her oft-stated contention:
the federal government has no right to dictate
how a state burns its witches.


EMILY: written and directed by Frances O’Connor; starring Emma Mackey as Emily Brontë
Rating: 4 tabs of Melatonin. A real snoozer!
Targent Audience: MFA candidates and dramatic teenagers.
In One Word: Overwrought.
One Sentence Plot Summation: A strange young woman struggles to find her place in the world.
Worst Moment: Emily Brontë and her brother shouting “Freedom in thought!” from the top of a hill, then twirling about deliriously before collapsing to the ground in self-satisfied delight. While that was perhaps dramatic in Victorian England, it has not aged well.
Best Moment: When Emily and the conflicted curate finally give in to their desires although it takes about 10 minutes to unlace Emily’s whale-bone corset, an interlude during which one’s attention begins to wander.
Final Thought: I’ve never read ‘Wuthering Heights’ and now I never will.

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A New Poem Every Monday
(tho’ sometimes life gets in the way)

Joseph Neely, all rights reserved 2023.

5 thoughts on “March in Michigan and the Problem with Political Poems

  1. Love both poems & you have me cackling with that movie review – thank you for the much needed laugh on a Monday!


  2. Hi Joe, I just found out your poems are landing in the most unsuspecting places. So glad I found you. I too like today’s poems and the movie review a hoot. However, as I explored, I’m so happy you write about November. I LOVE November. People usually think I’m crazy. Your poems inspire so many thoughts. I wish there was a follow up discussion group to discuss and expand on your poems and thoughts. Thank you so much dear Joe.


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