"Moon Walk Missouri" by Walter Bargen

Thursday, December 31, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

Missouri Poet Laureate Walter Bargen read his poem, "Moon Walk Missouri," at his installation ceremony in February 2008 in the Capitol rotunda in Jefferson City. He considers it to be his state poem.

Moon Walk Missouri


Not to forget what's important

I let the screen door slam behind me,

an alarm, an exclamation, an emphatic here,

now.  I inhale deeply, hear the flutter of wings.

My feet never leave the ground.

An awkward jump off the porch isn't flight.

Years of humus compress under foot.


Not even a first moon step,

Nothing for mankind, at best

A kind man.  The moon double-barreling

Down light.  The intensity of cosmic reflection

Like these worked words made to feel light,

Drawing out the indelible oak and hickory shadows,

A stark ink writing toward another season.


Winter's introduction long past,

Tonight's still cold.

A barred owl opens the booming forest

Of its voice.  I enter but come

No closer to seeing it.

I have no bold moves left.

My small steps leave

Leaves little disturbed

in their decomposing dreams.


Four walls not enough.

Ceiling just another floor.

How can we live without

The belted sparkle of Orion

As he stalks forever?

The sky star-pierced.

Constellations tattooed to their stories.

Such epics the accumulated wisdom

To our ends.  The telling lives in us.

We are pierced that deeply.

We celebrate that much.

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