Michael Meyerhofers Comments
“Satan Writes Home to His Mother”
When writing about a mythological or famous historical figure, the challenge is always to say something unique without trying so hard that you come across as pretentious. In this case, I started out thinking that Satan probably had a complicated childhood that culminated in some mommy issues—not to mention the question of who Satan’s mother would actually be, whether that’s a different aspect of God or something else that never made it into the mythology. About halfway through the poem, though, I realized the core of it was just a feeling of loneliness, which ended up being the entrance point, because brimstone and entrails aside, we all know what isolation feels like.
"Ode to the Repair Guy"
This one happened pretty much exactly as I described it. It was my first year of grad school and, believe it or not, I was even more bewildered and naive than I am today. Something blew in my apartment’s fuse box, starting a small fire that luckily burned itself out in just a few minutes. When the repair guy came to fix it, I was working on a poem for the next week’s workshop, but I guess because of my working-class roots, I started to feel this odd tension, trying to do something academic while there was sawdust blowing around. I’ve always been drawn to juxtapositions, those real-life Zen koans that happen when seemingly opposite factors glide against each other. Then, when the repair guy—this blunt, aging, working-class dude who listened to right-wing talk radio as he worked—suddenly tipped his head and said something beautiful about the snow, I just had to give him the last word.
This is another one from my working-class roots. Thanks in large part to various family medical bills, we were pretty poor, even by small-town Midwestern standards. But my dad was never one to complain; instead, he just picked up every minute of stray work he could find. Once in a while, he’d bring me along. I’d have no idea what I was doing or what was expected of me, but they were little glimpses into a larger world: one where houses decayed but by picking the bones clean, you could afford groceries for another week, and maybe also learn something about nails and gravity and how sunlight shines through broken glass.
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