POEM: One Can Miss Mountains


The New Yorker published Todd's poem about Alaska just prior to W. W. Norton's publication of his debut collection, Yellowrocket. He wrote the poem while serving as the self-appointed poet laureate of Nina's Cafe in Saint Paul, where for two years he ran "Verse and Converse," a monthly reading series.


The poem recalls the two years Todd spent getting his MFA at the University of Alaska–Anchorage, surrounded by the Talkeetna, Alaska, and Chugach ranges.


One Can Miss Mountains



and pine. One

can dismiss

a whisper’s

revelations

and go on as

before as if

everything were

perfectly fine.

One does. One

loses wonder

among stores

of things.

One can even miss

the basso boom

of the ocean’s

rumpus room

and its rhythm.

A man can leave

this earth

and take nothing

—not even

longing—along

with him.

The poem is oddly prescient. Twelve years later, Todd would quit his lease, sell nearly everything he owned, and begin life as a nomad.



Every writer dreams of landing in The New Yorker. On the day I got the news, I was working at The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. Unable to concentrate on anything else, I asked for the remainder of the day off and biked home, stopping on the Franklin Avenue Bridge to watch the Mississippi River awhile. The wonder of that moment is still with me.


Todd is grateful to the following for support of his work: Forecast Public Art, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council of/and The Minnesota State Arts Board, The National Endowment for the Arts, The San Francisco Arts Commission, and the Warhol Foundation, as well as individual commissions and supporters on Patreon

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