Queen of the needle, she always chose this tiny
silver silo as her token. Emblem of thrift,
no prodigal, it tap-tapped at even the swankest
addresses. She embroidered pillowcases with tulips
while she waited for my brother to get out of jail.
Her nightmare: a world without plumbing or light.
The first on the block to get a dishwasher,
she seized control of every faucet, every bulb,
and rapped her steel pinkie in triumph
when our rates went through the roof.
Forget Park Place, Boardwalk, or the luxury tax.
She always acquired the tawdry purple street
no one else wanted. Lovingly, she furnished it
with squat green bungalows and cheap hotels.
Many a red night, Dad blew his paycheck there.
When question marks assailed her like boomerangs,
she simply built more skyscrapers of pastel cash.
This was her metropolis: the sun a fluorescent ring
on plaster sky, while chili sweated on the stove.
She fanned herself with fifties, cool and blue.
—Karen Kovacik (Marion County)
This poem is from Metropolis Burning (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2005) and first appeared in West Branch.
Karen Kovacik is Professor of English at IUPUI. Her books include Beyond the Velvet Curtain and Metropolis Burning, and she’s the translator of Agnieszka Kuciak’s Distant Lands: An Anthology of Poets Who Don’t Exist. Her anthology of Polish women poets, Scattering the Dark, is just out from White Pine Press. From 2012-2014 she served as Indiana’s Poet Laureate.
Poetry Prompt: Memories of a Board Game
Write a poem inspired by memories of a particular board game. Some questions to consider: Who did you play it with? How did you play it? Did the way you play the game reflect anything about your relationship with the other players? Did it reflect something about your family culture, ethnic culture, or contemporary society? Explore the setting in which you played and the significance of different aspects of the game: rules, board, pieces, cards, actions, etc. Use sensory description, strong verbs, and at least one simile or metaphor.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.