American Life in Poetry: Column 705


A poem is an object carefully assembled of words, a "thing" that readers must reckon with just as they'd reckon with any other object. The title poem of Adrian Koesters' new book, Three Days with the Long Moon, published by BrickHouse Books, sets out a number of disparate elements, then observes: "…this pen making / a thing of them." So it's the "pen" in the hand of the poet that assembles the singular "thing" from the details. And that's how a poem comes to be. This poet lives in Omaha and was one of our very able assistants on this column.

Three Days with the Long Moon

That field nag, old-penny
swayback. Low hawk, to
ducks in train to a quad of geese,
in case. Last night, the long
moon lay it seemed a tissue
of snow, but then dawn told
that wasn't so. Late morning, now,
the fire, the hearth, eggs
sitting for the mute plate
and fork, this pen making
a thing of them. Two more nights—
waterfowl safe and noisy
in the dusk, the low rails
running flank to the river
at midnight—find what they'll
make of that river, this moon.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2017 by Adrian Koesters, "Three Days with the Long Moon," from Three Days with the Long Moon, (BrickHouse Books, 2017). Poem reprinted by permission of Adrian Koesters and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2019 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.