Readers' I-35W bridge poems inspire

  • Updated: August 3, 2012 - 2:28 PM

Several submitted their versions of poems about the tragedy.

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Local poet Todd Boss and European artist Maja Spasova combined efforts to create a unique form of public art to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the !-35W bridge collapse.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Todd Boss, a St. Paul poet, crossed the Interstate 35W bridge 20 minutes before it collapsed in 2007, killing 13, injuring 145, and leaving a tangle of wreckage in the Mississippi River. That experience inspired him to start a series of poems about what he called "a huge civic tragedy."

He ended up writing 35 poems, each 35 lines long, which the Star Tribune published Wednesday, on the fifth anniversary of the collapse. The poems, "Fragments for the 35W Bridge," also are part of an art installation and an audio composition at the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.

We invited readers to write their own "fragments" about the 35W bridge, and many of you took us up on the offer. Here is a selection of those poems:

 

35W POEM

for want of design

bridge plates were lost

for want of the plates

a bridge was tossed

dropped through the air

as if no one cared

all for the want

of some bolts and design

JOHN HARRINGTON, Stacy, Minn.

Quotes from a survivor

He could not conquer the bridge.

But he would climb above the pain and uncertainty.

Garrett's words still stick with me:

"It's the top of the mountain that puts us closest to heaven."

AUDREY KLETSCHER HELBLING, Faribault, Minn.

35W Poem

She gets lost in translation

from east to west banks. Haunted

Bohemian Flats. A death

smell lingers in gnarled scraps

of steel still laid out

to dry under scrutiny.

Wasn't the river's fault.

AMY NASH, Minneapolis

ON THE COLLAPSE OF THE 35W BRIDGE AND THE UNLUCKY THIRTEEN

A bridge isn't a knife

for slicing time in half,

unless it is. And why

does it fail to span life,

in a nation that planted

a flag on the moon,

as if to improve dreams?

Either way, the river

doesn't care if shores

meet -- or drop to dark.

DALE JACOBSON, Alvarado, Minn.

35W POEM

The only thing that shook more than the ground beneath him were his hands as he cried on the shoulder of the road that nearly killed him. He'd make it home, but would his wife?

AARON BAUER, Sioux Falls, S.D.

UNTITLED

one woman

digests

falling

quietly

adjusts

her theory

on happiness

in revision

for years

clarifies

the unclarified

trusses

begin to creak

roaring, tumbling

a bridge collapsing

a woman

driving away

from disaster

in past tense.

ANN IVERSON, East Bethel

35W Poem

As vehicles freely fell fifty feet,

some clung to blacktop

and others broke the water's surface.

Bodies were bruised and broken

and several souls silently rose,

while the river rushed on indifferently.

NORMAN HOLEN, RICHFIELD

BODY OF WATER

An egret flies

across the river

with a fluid,

rhythmic

sweep of wings,

it's something

much less

than comfort --

a mere

feather-weight

of easing --

to see

one creature

lovely

and unassailable,

passing easily

over water.

KIRSTEN DIERKING, ARDEN HILLS

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