American Life in Poetry: Column 405

When we began this column in 2005, I determined not to include any of my own poems because I wanted to introduce our readers to the work of as many of the other American poets as I could. But from time to time someone has requested that I publish one of my own. So here’s a seasonal poem, for those who’ve asked.

Christmas Mail

Cards in each mailbox,
angel, manger, star and lamb,
as the rural carrier,
driving the snowy roads,
hears from her bundles
the plaintive bleating of sheep,
the shuffle of sandals,
the clopping of camels.
At stop after stop,
she opens the little tin door
and places deep in the shadows
the shepherds and wise men,
the donkeys lank and weary,
the cow who chews and muses.
And from her Styrofoam cup,
white as a star and perched
on the dashboard, leading her
ever into the distance,
there is a hint of hazelnut,
and then a touch of myrrh.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2012 by Ted Kooser, whose most recent book of poems is Together, Brooding Heron Press, 2012. Poem reprinted by permission of Ted Kooser. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ted Kooser Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa in 1939. He received his B.A. from Iowa State and his M.A. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the author of ten collections of poetry, including Delights & Shadows. His honors include two NEA fellowships in poetry, a Pushcart Prize, the Stanley Kunitz Prize from Columbia, and a Merit Award from the Nebraska Arts Council. In the fall of 2004, Kooser was appointed the Library of Congress's thirteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. He is a visiting professor in the English department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He lives on an acreage near the village of Garland, NE, with his wife Kathleen Rutledge, the editor of the Lincoln Journal Star.

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