Four Postulates

By Michael Anania b. 1939 Michael Anania

for Anselm Hollo

I

what is most valued,
the cherished things
any moment in Iowa
settles so carelessly
upon you—cat stickers,   
a coded signal Home
Orange Juice is trucking by,   
some morning or any day   
when winter spring summer   
and the poem begin again


II

who was it started laughing?   
someone otherwise somber,   
the Christmas lariateer   
spinning double circles,   
dancing through the lasso   
at his side, bullwhipping   
cigarettes from his lovely   
assistant’s scarlet mouth   
every hour on the hour
next to the howling Santa Claus


III

would have thought other-
wise, conceded the point
at first argument; of course
there were mornings, the hills
went on to Cedar Rapids
and Davenport; in its own season   
the corn’s pollen stung another
hand; brown rivers paled with ice;   
those were the truck washes we had   
known before, the spit of gravel
from the humming wheels; the patient   
customer of truck stops knows the best   
of these returns, hulks them into   
the dark of his coffee with rounded   
shoulders and extended forearms


IV

it is the line of force or the vector   
that sees us through our ambiguities,   
diagram of rivers, path the semi
takes among its various winds, turn   
the night makes at a neon sign, EATS,   
locus of all points on the lasso’s rim,   
itself remembered; somehow each of us   
knows the double twist of brittle fiber   
that holds the line together, knows   
the turns the rain takes, heaves
the long land rests against our feet

Michael Anania, “Four Postulates” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by Michael Anania. Used by permission of Asphodel Press/Acorn Alliance.

Source: Selected Poems (1994)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Michael Anania b. 1939

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Home Life, Relationships, Jobs & Working, Activities, Travels & Journeys

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Michael  Anania

Biography

In the afterword to his first book, the 1969 New Poetry Anthology, Michael Anania wrote, "There is little evidence that modernism is dead or even dying. The tradition of Pound, Eliot, Williams, Stevens and their contemporaries is very much alive." Anania's importance as a poet lies in how he preserves and develops this modernist tradition in American poetry. A deep commitment to modernism and the tradition of experimental, often . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Home Life, Relationships, Jobs & Working, Activities, Travels & Journeys

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.