Lorine's cabin water lily


Remember my little granite pail?
The handle of it was blue.
Think what's got away in my life—
Was enough to carry me thru.


Black Hawk held: In reason
land cannot be sold,
only things to be carried away,
and I am old.

Young Lincoln's general moved,
pawpaw in bloom,
and to this day, Black Hawk,
reason has small room.


There's a better shine
on the pendulum
than is on my hair
and many times
          .. ..
I've seen it there.


Asa Gray wrote Increase Lapham:
pay particular attention
to my pets, the grasses.


In moonlight lies
          the river passing—
it's not quiet
          and it's not laughing.

I'm not young
          and I'm not free
but I've a house of my own
          by a willow tree.


In the great snowfall before the bomb
colored yule tree lights
windows, the only glow for contemplation
along this road

I worked the print shop
right down among em
the folk from whom all poetry flows
and dreadfully much else.

I was Blondie
I carried my bundles of hog feeder price lists
down by Larry the Lug,
I'd never get anywhere
because I'd never had suction,
pull, you know, favor, drag,
well-oiled protection.


What horror to awake at night
and in the dimness see the light.
          Time is white
          mosquitoes bite
I've spent my life on nothing.

The thought that stings. How are you, Nothing,
sitting around with Something's wife.
          Buzz and burn
          is all I learn
I've spent my life on nothing.

I've pillowed and padded, pale and puffing
lifting household stuffing—
          carpets, dishes
          benches, fishes
I've spent my life in nothing.


        when the leaves

from their stems
        that lie thick
                on the walk

in the light
        of the full note
                the moon

        to leaves
                when they leave

the little
        thin things


The death of my poor father
leaves debts
and two small houses.

To settle this estate
a thousand fees arise—
I enrich the law.

Before my own death is certified,
recorded, final judgement

taxes taxed
I shall own a book
of old Chinese poems

and binoculars
to probe the river


where her snow-grave is
the You
          ah you
of mourning doves


My friend tree
I sawed you down
but I must attend
an older friend
the sun



A robin stood by my porch
        and side-eyed
                raised up
                       a worm


Get a load
        of April's

frog rattle—
     lowland freight cars
       in the night


Poet's work

    advised me:
            Learn a trade

I learned
    to sit at desk
           and condense

No layoff
    from this

Now in one year
          a book published
                and plumbing—
took a lifetime
           to weep
                      a deep


I knew a clean man
but he was not for me.
Now I sew green aprons
over covered seats. He

wades the muddy water fishing,
fall in, dries his last pay-check
in the sun, smooths it out
in Leaves Of Grass. He's
the one for me.


Popcorn-can cover
screwed to the wall
over a hole
       so the cold
can't mouse in


Your erudition
the elegant flower
of which

my blue chicory
at scrub end
of campus ditch



(Excerpt from Lake Superior)

I'm sorry to have missed
      Sand Lake
My dear one tells me
      we did not
We watched a gopher there


My Life by Water

My life
   by water—

   first frog
       or board

out on the cold


to wild green
   arts and letters

   my lettuce
       One boat

   pointed toward
       my shore

thru birdstart

of the soft
   and serious—


Far reach
   of sand
         A man

bends to inspect
   a shell

part coral
   and mud



We must pull
the curtains—
we haven't any


I walked
New Year's Day

beside the trees
my father now gone planted

evenly following
the road



Katherine Ann
             A poor poet
             divining Gail

The baby looked toward me
and I was born—
to sound, light
lift, life
beyond my life

She wiggles her toe
I grow
I go to school to her
and she to me
and to Bonnie



You are the man
You are my other country
and I find it hard going

You are the prickly pear
You are the sudden violent storm

the torrent to raise the river
to float the wounded doe


Poems on this Lorine Niedecker Web site are from the book "Lorine Niedecker: Collected Works" edited by Jenny Penberthy, published by the University of California Press, 2002 used with permission by the University of California Press.