Ted Kooser: An American life in poetry, Nov. 3, 2013

I'm a sucker for miniatures, I suppose because it's easy to believe I have control over my world when some of its parts are very small and I have positioned them to my liking.

Here's a telling poem about a tiny plastic soldier by Mary M. Brown of Indiana.

Classic Toy

The plastic army men are always green.

They're caught in awkward poses,

one arm outstretched as if to fire,

legs parted and forever stuck on a swiggle

of support, as rigid and green as the boots.

This one has impressions of pockets,

a belt, a collar, a grip on tiny binoculars

intended to enlarge, no doubt, some tiny enemy.

In back, attached to the belt is a canteen

or a grenade (it's hard to tell). The helmet

is pulled down low, so as to hide the eyes.

If I point the arm, the gun, toward me,

I see that this soldier is very thin.

It's almost unreal, how thin he is.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (http://www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright 2009 by Nystrom, from her most recent book of poems, "Bad River Road" (Sarabande Books, 2009). Reprinted by permission of Nystrom and the publisher. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 to '06. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

 

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