Literature 12-19-2006

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Mike Finley

"What Light" presents a new poem by a Minnesota poet every week. The work is chosen by a jury of writers, publishers, and editors, and sponsored by Magers and Quinn Booksellers. Look for the anthology of What Light poems coming in February!

Mike Finley

Is There NASCAR in Heaven?

There surely must be
because of the glory
But obviously not the advertisements
They will not be selling Winston and
Kool 100s there
The afterlife is noncommercial
though the cigarettes are free

And instead of cars
which depend on resistance
we will have something looser,
I am thinking of songcars
You just sing and off you go
There’s no burning rubber in heaven
no needle teetering on the red

And the guy at the loudspeaker
Is also the guy with the checkered flag
He’s also the clown
with the multicolored wig
And up in the stands throwing down
Crackerjack that’s him,
and slapping the mustard stain
on his thigh,
him too

And we will not race in a loop anymore
and not against one another
But with one another like colts at play
and everywhere and in every way
It’s going to be terrific, you’ll see

And instead of celebrity drivers
like Richard and A.J.
we will all be sitting at the wheel.
like movie stars in our astronaut suits
and the bugs on our teeth don’t even die
they brush themselves off
and fly away


I try to think of a poem as a gift. This means it needs to be something someone would want to get. I also take pains, as I get older, not to lay claim to things that aren’t mine — not to steal stories, or pretend I have felt or experienced things I have not. I like humor, even in very serious writing — the willingness to look at thing in a surprising way. Finally I try to write for folks who do not read too many poems. Because a world that is all poem is like a hothouse, when what we need is fresh air and light.


Mike Finley is the author of some 43 books of poems, downloadable versions of which are free at He has won a Pushcart Prize and a Wisconsin State Arts Fellowship. His nonfiction book Why Teams Don’t Work was named “Best Management Book, 1995” by The Global Business Book Awards. Mike is currently finishing a memoir titled Fixing the Christians. He lives with his family in Saint Paul.

Mike Finley

BA, University of Minnesota, 1972 News Editor, Worthington Daily Globe, 1978-1980 Proprietor, Future Shoes, 1985-2003 Proprietor, Big Canary, 2003- WASH (“Working with Artists, Sharing the Healing”) Symposium Participant, 2005 For a list of books: …   read more