Benjamin Vogt


It's not the porch that keeps you to yourself,
the splintered sun-worn posts analogous
to how you see the countryside. Your sight
and silence bearing down above the fields
is from a center you don't know, in waiting
you can’t get closer to it. Do you feel
the maple lifting, slightly, in the breeze,
stretched on its toes to dance abruptly by
a father’s sawdust breath. And do you touch
the Morning Glories with your backhand like
your mother's German cheek, whispering
go now to the dark which brought you here.
It's not the rows of warping banister
and deck that holds you back, but fields of skin
like grass emblazoned in such bruising heat.



"Homeplace" is from a series of poems based on 19th-20th century photos, all found while cleaning out my grandmother's house in rural Oklahoma. Blank verse seems natural to the perceived Midwestern way of life—melodic in repetition, purgatorial, and uncannily subdued.