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Poetry Moment: 'Runoff,' by Steve Myers

Steve Myers
Steve Myers

This is Poetry Moment on WPSU – a weekly program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Your host is poet and author Marjorie Maddox, a 2023 Monson Arts Fellow, author of 20 books, and professor of English and creative writing at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University. 

Welcome to Poetry Moment.

If you could gift an experience, what would you offer a child? Lightning bugs in June? An owl at dusk? A love of books? The wisdom to pause and witness a March evening in Northwestern Pennsylvania? In today’s poem, “Runoff” by Steve Myers, the author passes on what leads us—through nature and the imagination—to other worlds.

Steve Myers, assistant Director of DeSales University’s MFA program in Creative Writing, was born in Lewisburg, grew up in rural Bucks County, graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, and has lived in the Lehigh Valley for 30-plus years. He is the author of a full-length poetry collection and two chapbooks.

According to Myers, there are “[m]any ways open to the world beyond.” First, he explains to his granddaughter, “Be sure you are alone.” Surrounded by nature, the solitary mind opens wide to observation, exploration, and creativity.

To re-kindle child-like wonder, heed this poet’s advice. Follow both real and imaginative streams to where they lead.

Here’s “Runoff” by Steve Myers, for his granddaughter, in northwest Pennsylvania
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Be sure you’re alone. Find a rough boulder you can claim for your own.
Best to look down on a braided stream rolling between pine-topped hills.

No ancient sea made your weathered stone; a glacier dropped it. Climb on.
If you’re warm, you’re home. Fire-born, the boulder bears fire inside it still.

Bring a book. Bring bread spread with honey. Bring the music in your head.
Come each day, each season. Brown-branch November, lightning-bug June.

You’ll have teachers enough: bee, beech, fox. Heron stalking the stream bed.
Watch how water fills all hollows, then flows on. Owl at dusk, thrush at dawn.
Many ways open to the world beyond, as in gray March’s dimming light,
a doe breasts water to the far shore, turns away, steps out of sight.

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That was “Runoff” by Steve Myers. Thanks for listening.

Listen for Poetry Moment with Marjorie Maddox Mondays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered on WPSU. You can more episodes at moment.

Our theme music is by Eric Ian Farmer.

Marjorie Maddox is the host of WPSU's Poetry Moment for the 2023-24 season. She has been a professor of English and creative writing since 1990 at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.