Minnesota Poetry: Greg Hewett’s “Modern Living”

Greg Hewett teaches American literature and creative writing at Carleton College. He has written three four books of poetry: To Collect the Flesh, Red Suburb , The Eros Conspiracy and darkacre. His poem “Modern Living” is one of several published in Red Suburb that turn a sardonic eye on the era of his youth and the initial idealism of the suburbs.

Modern Living

It was all so modern then

when everything was so

modern. Low-slung homes

arranged in neighborhoods of

cul-de-sacs, endless front

lawns, shrubs cut like onyx.

With the whoosh of sliding

glass we came pouring out

from family rooms as big as ships

to shoot up high

into the stratosphere

bright balsa-wood rockets

we hoped would land

in a blue-eye

swimming pool with

a triumphant splash.

Now these patios and pools are pitted

and cracked. Hunks of concrete

lie in yards of crabgrass.

The perfect yews have winter burn,

have taken on gothic shapes.

They tower above the split-

levels like shadows with lives

of their own. They threaten

picture windows as if

everyone has simply grown tired

of the perfect view.

— “Modern Living” by Greg Hewett, as it appears in Red Suburb, published by Coffee House Press.

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