Literature 12-8-2008

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Mike Finley

"Hamsters" by Mike Finley was selected as this week's What Light poem by Duluth's Poet Laureate, Jim Johnson.

Mike Finley
What Light anthology


Several times I have opened an eye at night
certain someone was moving in the house,
but it was only the chrome wheel turning

Or we would be making love and hear the sound
of metal on metal from the children’s room —
the ball in the drip bottle pushed and released.

The crunch of seed between pointed pearls,
the scurry and blink of prisoners.
In the cane, in the damp, in the moldy dark, they spin.


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 things 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 author of over forty three books of poems, downloadable versions of which are free on his website. 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.