“My anonymous Midwest.”

I miss the everyday plains
forty five minutes past Chicago.
My anonymous Midwest,
with no global landmark
that any visitor may digest.
My anonymous Midwest,
speckled by my birthmarks
only I can identify
by cross street or neon sign.
Water towers lost amongst
parking lots and strip malls.
My anonymous Midwest,
stinking of glitz and plastic knives,
perfumed by potato salad
and the hum of electric lines.
Suburban mothers and rural wives,
dedicating lives to the casserole dish
and a favorite odor of fabric softener.
My anonymous Midwest,
where classmates visit bars
to reunite with former lives
they never left, every ten years.
My anonymous Midwest,
sprawling down prairies and oak trees;
Headlights hitting eyes of the 159th deer.
My anonymous Midwest,
where weddings end in VFW Halls
with sweetly drunk in-laws pouring
flasks of White Zinfandel.
Pass the mostaccioli.
Pass the garlic mashers.
Pass the baked chicken
or the platter of roast beef afterbirth.
My anonymous Midwest,
where last year’s appliance meets the curb
just to show off to every neighbor
how deep your credit card debt grows.
My anonymous Midwest,
with your muscle car exhibitions of testosterone
in the parking lots of department stores.
I can still hear your drag races
somewhere beyond the shut wooden blinds
of my childhood home,
where the kids never came on Halloween
because our bushes were always overgrown.
My anonymous Midwest,
where carefully manicured lawns
give way to a snow storm
of dark black exhaust smoke.
And your sweet school children
wait by the bus stop,
dreaming long to their futures—
beyond bag boys and the cheerleader car wash.
My anonymous Midwest,
roaming door to door,
selling girl scout cookies, tee-ball M&M’s,
and dressing your daughters
in brightly colored polyester—
so that she sparkles like a firefly
in the Homecoming ball.
My anonymous Midwest,
your traditions are true,
by your librarians who greet you
by a hush of the late afternoon.
Your playgrounds of aluminum;
Your baseball fields breeding mosquitoes
and your players who pose for the photographer
so they might get a make-believe trading card.
My anonymous Midwest,
of soccer balls and high school state championships.
Your PTA Market Days and your field trips to the zoo.
My anonymous Midwest,
I shudder to even mention your crying babies,
or your golden retrievers named Rover,
whose diapers you discard by the park bench
just as sure as the car dealership lights glow.
I miss the everyday plains.
I miss the everyday minivan,
cutting me off in traffic,
that fails to end until my driveway.
Your concrete cemeteries
of parking lots and strip malls,
vacated by the struggling economy.
My anonymous Midwest,
I came from you.
And surely by now,
you understand
why I had to leave you.
My anonymous Midwest,
I fear I am still be in love with you,
so I cannot come back to visit
less I get trapped by all you offer.

narrative poem written on 10-13-2010 by: on mattkane.com
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