Friday, March 5, 2010

Erika Meitner reads her poem from day 45

Slinky Dirt With Development Hat

O Mama. Juice. Pile of dirt.
Sand pit where the workers stopped
working. Home is a backhoe

with no keys, silent, yellow. Passing
cars buzz the lots for sale that still
have trees, have liens. Our development

is mid-cul-de-sac. There are half-moons
carved into hills, and when we walk
down the unpaved, unnamed road,

past the upright pipes marking gas
or sewer, there’s often a father and son
joyriding on one four-wheeler, sans helmets.

They wave hello and we wave back.
There’s bankruptcy court. A promised
swimming pool. There’s hope that bounces

down the stairs, slinks away, and hides
under a chair. My son pitches a fit
when we pass a digger and I won’t stop

for the excavation; when the other children
sing the alphabet he doesn’t join in.
After two servings of milk, there’s

water. Farther, further, father.
Mama. Juice. Pile of dirt, he calls
from the car window to the bleached

frames, empty and bowed as a set
of whale ribs, their cupped hands
spilling sand and clay. He presses

his red mitten to the glass and waves
hello to our master-planned community,
the houses that are just like ours, but for

the countertop finish, or optional bonus room
above the garage, or guns in the cupboards
beneath commemorative plates, tucked

next to receipts for winter and re-wear
that coat one more year. In the dusk,
the mountaintops flatten themselves

to escape the calcified bulldozers
that won’t come after them anymore.
It is March and there’s snow crusted

over with ice. Our jackets are too small,
but the snaps still snap. The zippers still
zip. We shiver and turn the heat up.

Erika Meitner’s first book, Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore, was published by Anhinga Press in 2003. She lives in Blacksburg, VA, and teaches in the MFA program at Virginia Tech. Her son Oz (age 2) regularly refers to Obama as “Omama.”

Originally posted on March 5, 2009

Click here for the MP3 of this reading.


  1. Very moving and pertinent, especially after the real estate meltdown. I'm sure many people can relate to this.

  2. A nice poem that suits the current economic environment. I'm listening to the mp3 of this poem to understand it better.

  3. Great piece of writing, definitely something many people will be able to appreciate and relate too I'm sure.

    Amanda@ Backpacking Water Filter Reviews

  4. Very well written. Thanks for putting together such a great site.

    Olivia @ Best New Chick Flicks