NEA Literature Fellowships

Steve Kronen

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(2009 - Poetry)

My Father's Elephants

- for my father

The Indonesian photo: elephants - trunks
to tails, silhouettes, (sun nearly sunk
below their discus legs,) lumbering off, walk-
ing the world's rim, rolling it beneath their bulk.

I pulled next from the bottom of your trunk
a 78 - your childhood songs, sung
to strains of an orphan choir -- their polliwog
faces on the faded cover. From the bal-

cony, the needle plowing its narrow trench,
spiraling inward, unearthed a sonic
I felt marrow-deep: its shrugged payloads a vol-
canic thrum and lift past the filmy bulge

of atmosphere. And the resplendent strung-
pearls of elephants sauntering, their sun-
crested hides from such a scope a great wall
crossing a continent, their plodding bulwark

rumbling the clay with their mighty tree trunk
legs. What reverberations - your small sanc-
tuary, capsule big, gone now past vul-
garities of sound-wave and heft, your bal-

kanized heart weightless at last, your heavy trunk
that lugged it, weightless, the blink of its san-
grial light off kilter, and the great wheel
come round, scratchy, all stutter, skip, and balk.

Steve Kronen grew up in Florida. His collection, Splendor, was published by BOA Editions in 2006. His first book, Empirical Evidence, was published by the University of Georgia Press in 1992. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, The American Scholar, Poetry, Agni, APR, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Slate, The Threepenny Review, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. He has been a fellow at Bread Loaf, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference, received two Florida Arts Council grants, and the Cecil Hemley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. He graduated from Warren Wilson's MFA program. He's now a librarian at Miami Dade College in Miami where he lives with his wife, novelist Ivonne Lamazares, and their daughter, Sophie. 

Photo by Sophie Kronen

Author's Statement

On the eve of the 2008 presidential election, Dana Gioia called my home with the wonderful news that I'd been awarded an NEA. Then, just 24 hours later, in a serendipitous confluence linking the small and grand in my mind, it felt as if my own good fortune had somehow manifested in the thousands of faces I saw on TV. I raise my glass, deeply grateful.