Author Archives: Margaret Dubay Mikus

Read to the End–newly rediscovered poem

Forty-seven years ago May 25 fell on a Saturday (Memorial weekend) and Stephen and I got married at Queen of Peace Church. It was 3 weeks after my graduation from the University of Michigan and 1 week after his first year law school final exams. We were both 22 years old. We were so glad to be together we held onto each other and grinned through most of the ceremony. Even after this pandemic year, that is still true.

Here is a recently rediscovered poem from 21 years ago. When I read it to Stephen he didn’t remember the incident, but really liked the poem, so here it is.

6/29/00

Read to the End

Where can you be?
they are calling
desperate in their way
to find you

in the middle of negotiation
you walked away
stepped out…to where?
Is that when you called

me and left a message
“Talk to you at home”
two hours ago and
you are not home.

Where can you be
run off, run over
leaped off a bridge
into swift green water?

Wandering lost
down familiar, but faint
Chicago city streets?
Sudden flash of “must get out”

sudden loss of stamina
to keep on such a hard
“responsible” course
you set for yourself

thinking your sacrifice
was for us?
Where could you be—
come home to me—and talk

it through, like we always do.
Take this line I throw out to you
hold fast as I pull
you back to the safety of my arms.

**
And now the rest of the story:
You left for a meeting,
an estimate on hail damage,
and came home smiling after.

No danger, no need for worry
who knew? All that energy
wasted except to realize
once again how I love you.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2000

Recently rediscovered from my poetic journal

Cutting our wedding cake, 1974

Margaret and Stephen, Door County, WI

#poem #anniversary #love #poetry #lovepoetry

Poem for Spring About Acceptance

7:15 PM

You don’t criticize a bud
because it is not yet a flower
or judge the speed of its opening
as too slow.
It is a bud,
nature in motion,
life in process.

And when petals first unfurl,
you don’t heap harsh words
on those virgin petals.
You wait with awe
and anticipation
that should all progress
according to design,
without harshness of influence
or environment—no early
frost or late freeze,
no fire or pest or disease—
that with one invisible push,
the mature bloom opens revealing
the hidden heart in all its glory.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2004

From Letting Go and New Beginnings: A Mother’s Poetic Journey

Multi-color Tulip by M D Mikus, Copyright 2013

My Lawrence Ferlinghetti Story, part 2

Some poems insist on being sent to the one who inspired them. I try to follow that impulse, but sometimes I lose track. My poem, “Ferlinghetti Speaks,” was one of those. It was written in 2002, but I didn’t send it to him until 2014.

The push to send it was his 95th birthday and the sense that time was running out to do it. Probably urged by my voice teacher, Kip, I emailed City Lights Booksellers (begun years back by Ferlinghetti in San Francisco) to see if that was the best address to send my poems inspired by him. The staff got back to me in 1 1/2 days: “Yes, if you send them c/o the store, they will be passed on to him. Thanks.”

Encouraged, I wrote a short letter and mailed it with the two poems (the one below included). I did not hear back, but that wasn’t the point. I did what I felt strongly I wanted / needed to do and that was enough. I wanted to tell someone that they inspired me, that who they were or what they did or wrote mattered, enough to take my time to tell them.

I felt so strongly about this, wanting to avoid regrets, as alluded to in this poem, because of previous experiences when I waited too long. So here is the second poem I sent to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, part of my honoring his passing.

3/25/14

Someone Posted on Facebook

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is 95 today
and I never did send him that poem he inspired
by his inspired reading in Chicago that day
that turned the compass needle sideways and
the streets in the Loop ran in perpendicular directions

no lie
until things settled down out of the long shadows
out back in the sun, back in touch
with the ground and the somewhere blue sky.

I considered sending him the poem
considered writing the back story
even tracked down the San Francisco address
of City Lights Booksellers
but each time I talked myself out of it

intimidated maybe
or not high enough on the crowded list
or waves of life knocking me flat sometimes.
You would think I’d learned after Vonnegut’s death,
and Susannah’s, how the good ideas, the kindnesses
left undone are the things later that haunt you
not every day, but sometimes.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2014

From Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine

The poem, “Ferlinghetti Speaks” is in My Ferlinghetti Story, part 1

Steep Street to the Bridge, San Francisco, Copyright 2007, Margaret Dubay Mikus

My Lawrence Ferlinghetti Story, part 1

The time: Evening, Autumn, 2002
The Setting: A reading sponsored by The Poetry Center of Chicago in an elegant building, downtown.

The facts of that day are actual, not just metaphorical. Here is my poem inspired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s reading, which seemed to temporarily disrupt geography among other things, posted now in honor of his passing, at age 101, last week.

Let me tell you a story…

10/18/02

Ferlinghetti Speaks

Traffic is thick, but smooth.
Rain, not sleet, falls from mid-October sky,
trees reluctantly flame.
All directions lead to Rome.
Building disguised with scaffolding,
I walk past unnoticing and have to backtrack.
Remaining front row seats reserved
for important people, few do not come.
A woman, whose daughter is in a wheelchair,
removes her raincoat and umbrella from a prime chair,
offering it to me. I accept gladly.

Welcome. Introductions set the scene.
Gilded room filled and beyond.
Audience willing to be amused and amazed
with sharp use of language.
Ferlinghetti, blindfolded, steps groping onto the stage,
reading his first poem as if blind, but “cheats,”
turning pages as he reads. Or does not cheat,
reading from memory, turning pages for effect.
The crowd laughs, delighted at the ruse.

He continues, eyes uncovered now, twinkling,
having a good time—
born in 1919, still in mental prime.
About Willie Mays and Tito Fuentes,
about a dog who wants communion,
about peace and Prague, and painting with light.
Rapt faces of the audience upturned:
an unlined earnest Greek god face,
another face framed by fuchsia hair,
the faces of matrons, students,
artists, poets, professors, insiders, outsiders.
Now and then a camera flashes as he speaks,
hands clap after most every poem.
In expressive sing/song he reads eighty minutes,
stopping briefly for small sips of water from a sport bottle.

The poet dons aviator goggles and leather cap,
ending with “A History of Airplanes”
from Wright brothers and Lindy to 9/11.
He stops with a smile—pleased.
Admirers line up to get a piece of him to take home.
I consider the long line and turn to go. Outside on the street,
a dollar in a cup for an invisible newspaper.
Leaving in rain to meet husband waiting at train.
Parking garage machine will not take my card—
three times it denies me before letting me leave.
When I emerge, driving north,
the streets of Chicago no longer run in their previous directions.
Confused, I drive south on an east/west street
and keep circling to find my way until
I decide to go with what I know.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2002

From my poetic journal.

Tomorrow part 2, what happened next (well, more than a decade later).
My Ferlinghetti Story, part 2

From Across Michigan Avenue, Copyright 2012 by MD Mikus

Later Looking Back

3/22/20

Later Looking Back

Good will come of this
you will see, not now but later
looking back after this crisis is over

While the old life is crumbling away
it feels like loss, and the unknown overwhelms
the usual complacency. But

at some point farther than this minute
the future is playing out in all its
various possible strands to weave

And as we choose, we create
we become aware, more or less
of the ongoing co-creative process

Some will settle in, take the pill back
to previous unconscious oblivion
but some will stay completely open

And that may be enough

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2020

From my poetic journal.