Prairie Houses

By Barbara Guest 1920–2006 Barbara Guest
Unreasonable lenses refract the
sensitive rabbit holes, mole dwellings and snake   
climes where twist burrow and sneeze
a native species

into houses

corresponding to hemispheric requests   
of flatness

euphemistically, sentimentally   
termed prairie.

On the earth exerting a willful pressure

something like a stethoscope against the breast

only permanent.

Selective engineering architectural submissiveness   
and rendering of necessity in regard to height,   
eschewment of climate exposure, elemental understandings,
constructive adjustments to vale and storm

historical reconstruction of early earthworks   

and admiration

for later even oriental modelling

for a glimpse of baronial burdening
we see it in the rafters and the staircase heaviness   
a surprise yet acting as ballast surely

the heavens strike hard on prairies.

Regard its hard-mouthed houses with their   
robust nipples the gossamer hair.

Barbara Guest, “Prairie Houses” from Selected Poems (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1995). Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Selected Poems (1995)

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Poet Barbara Guest 1920–2006

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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