Monday, April 6, 2009

NPM 4: "The Things a Man Keeps," by Jim Johnson

Today Jen posted Wrist-Wrestling Father by Orval Lund, a poem which she describes as cataloging a man's life and deftly handling father/son relationships.

It reminded me of a poem I heard just last week about the same kind of man.
I was walking around the lake last Sunday and stopped in Birchbark Books, as I often do. 
A poetry reading was just starting so I stayed to hear Jim Johnson (and Chris Heeter, in post above). Johnson read prose poems from his latest book, Driving Gravel Roads (Minnesota, Red Dragonfly Press, 2009).

This is about the kind of guys who are as American as blueberry pie--not the James-Merrill-lemon-chiffon-pie kind of guys--as befits a poem by the Poet Laureate of Duluth. (Really. Jim is.)

"The Things a Man Keeps"

The things a man now keeps he keeps in the cab of a pickup truck: friction tape, jumper cables, county map, dinosaur bones, pliers, coffee mug with Town Pump logo, so many legal papers, letters to be mailed, maybe a tumbleweed or two, and, as we sharply turned the corner by the fairgrounds, a box, a small sealed cardboard box that slid along the dashboard all the way to the edge, struck the windshield, and fell to my feet. That's my dad, he said.

--Jim Johnson


Darwi said...


Jennifer said...

That is awesome. I can't even articulate why, just the matter-of-fact unsentimental...remembering of it. I'm very enamoured of liosts of things in poems and prose lately, somehow...

fresca said...

Jim Johnson's poems include some nice lists, Jen--I'll e-mail you a couple.