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American Life in Poetry: ‘State Fair Fireworks, Labor Day’ by Maryann Corbett

By Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06

To celebrate the end of summer, here is a sonnet full of explosions by Maryann Corbett, who lives in Minnesota. It’s from her book “Street View,” published by Able Muse Press.

State Fair Fireworks, Labor Day

Look up: blazing chrysanthemums in rose

shriek into bloom above the Tilt-a-Whirls,

hang for a blink, then die in smoky swirls.

They scream revolt at what the body knows:

all revels end. We clap and sigh. Then, no –

another rose! another peony! break,

flame, roar, as though by roaring they might make

the rides whirl in perpetuum. As though

we need not finally, wearily turn, to plow

back through the crush of bodies, the lank air,

to buses that inch us, sweating, across town.

As though we were not dropped in silence there

to trudge the last blocks home, the streetlamps low,

the crickets counting summer’s seconds down.

Poem copyright 2017 by Maryann Corbett, from “Street View” (Able Muse Press, 2017), and reprinted permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by the Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

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