BJ Omanson

BJ Omanson Poems

How she came to wander there
above the river late at night
she didn't know and didn't care—

When they sold off the farm she took the child
and caught a bus out of town— as for him,
with everyone gone and everything grim,
he opened a pint of bourbon, piled

It wasn't so much that she listened in
on our every call, it was that she took
not the slightest trouble to mask the din
and clatter of pots and pans as she cooked,

BJ Omanson Biography

The poems in this collection, drawn from Omanson's rural midwestern heritage and shaped by the regionalist/naturalistic tradition of American poetry, were written over a period of some thirty-five years. They first appeared in such literary journals as Shenandoah, The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review and the Academy of American Poets anthology series, New Voices. Born four days after the death of Edgar Lee Masters, BJ Omanson was raised in the Spoon River valley of Stark County, Illinois, where his father, both grandfathers and several great-grandfathers had farmed since the mid-nineteenth century, and where members of his family still farm today. Largely self-educated, Omanson has spent the past fifty years working in five states as a barrel plater, drill press operator, autoworker, tree trimmer, shingle-mill worker, logger, truck driver, taxi driver, bus driver, gardener, day laborer, fruit picker, groundsman, nurseryman, librarian, used-bookstore manager, barn restorer, farmhand, gravedigger, garbage collector, custodian, greensmower, night waterman, nurse's aide on a locked ward for the criminally insane, and teamster (driving draft horses) . For the past decade he has interpreted the daily life of an 18th century frontier farmer at Prickett’s Fort on the Monongahela River north of Fairmont, West Virginia. He has published poetry, literary criticism, theatre and art reviews, and military history. His second book of poems, A River Gray with Rain, is forthcoming from Monongahela Press.)

The Best Poem Of BJ Omanson

What The Water Whispered

How she came to wander there
above the river late at night
she didn't know and didn't care—

she only knew that it was right,
that everything at last was clear—
that nothing could be lovelier

than velvet water under stars—
a whisper drew her down the stairs,
drew her down the riverbank,

drew her darkly down to where
the stars were mirrored and she shrank
a moment at the margin there,

shivered in the crystal air,
loosened all her lustrous hair,
ventured out and slowly sank.

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