Colorado writer finds poetry in everyday life

October 20, 2014

 Photo: Mike Henry(Photo: Courtesy of Mike Henry)Colorado poet Michael Henry dives into everyday life to find moments that connect. Inspirations include an email from Amazon, a trip to the optometrist, or his daughters playing with dandelions.

He is executive director of Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and his latest book of poetry is called "Active Gods." This poems explore different stages of life from childhood to old age.

"I try to surprise myself in the writing of a poem," Henry says. "I tend to embrace weird and strange as much as possible. "
As he finds he poetic in daily life, he often ignores the standard writing admonition not to use pop culture references. He's willing to mention iPods or movie titles in his work.
Here are two poems from his book:


Desires bloom and yearn

like they always do. You are never

satisfied, just like your father,

a shark in the harbor

slashing his way through all

those dopey seals. How unlike

your mother, who crocheted hours

on end, hunched and near-sighted,

sighing. You and he are seam

rippers, you tear and rend.

Sinews crack and separate,

like when you used to brawl,

when you fractured your fist and jaw,

those small nickels and pins

of bone. At night you ran

through the drab streets howling

like a wild dog. You kissed

the rain-glistened sidewalk,

stomped the puddles. You ground

your teeth to the searing pain,

made a fist of your shattered

hand, glory in the feeling of hurt

and the feeling that it was all

so wrong, as if someone had pulled

the main seam inside

you, had unlooped the long

junction of your body and soul,

and you knew if you went fully

with it, you’d fall apart,

into mere bolts of cloth.



My daughters huff dandelion seeds

at my face and the air is all fuzzy

miniature parachutes, and so

I must produce a loud

fake sneeze. They love to make

me do such things. They collect

more and do it again, the weak stems

collapsing on themselves, white

milk ooze, the park made a weed

bed, and when they both run away

they are not the butterflies

whose wings in turn will whip up

a typhoon off the coast of Japan

or the stomp of a polar bear

that washes away the pillared

legs of a house in Key West,

but each girl is in this world

a spirit that surely knocks me

to my knees with gale force

winds and tidal washes.

Reprinted from Active Gods by Michael J. Henry with permission of Conundrum Press, a division of Samizdat Publishing Group LLC and Michael Henry. Copyright (c) Michael Henry, 2014.