Somewhere in Southern Indiana: Poems of Midwestern Origins

by Norbert Krapf


Squirrel at the Birdfeeder

When I flap up the kitchen shades
he stares, fat-cheeked, from the bird-
feeder swaying in the gnarled lilac.

Defender of birds rights,
I rap at the cold pane
dividing my kingdom from his

and aim a fist at his head.
He rises on haunches, fluffs
a tail at my face, wobbles

into the woodpile. . . . As evening
tilts down the hillside, I stray
from a novel propped on the table

and watch sparrows peck seed.
A streak of fur attacks the lilac,
flushing wings into the dusk.

He squeezes onto the ledge
where seed spills from the mouth
of the cave. He gorges as

I swirl from the table like
a storm, cocks ears as I
blast through the doorway,

and freezes as I shake a fist
and gesture like a priest who
can't believe his own sermon.

Since no buckshot has ever spread
from my fingertips, since seed will
spill from the lilac bush again

in the morning, he chews, listens,
chews, backs away when I come
almost close enough to touch.

He hops to a rock, claws bark
to the bottom branch of a locust. . . .
Rocking back and forth in the kitchen,

I think of him poised in the locust,
drift into a forest where branches
give beneath the advance of squirrels.


A Midwesterner’s recollection of his Indiana heritage, including reflections upon his German pioneer ancestors, nature in its magnificent simplicity, and memories of his childhood.


Krapf’s poetry has deep affinities with the local color tradition of American literature. But like Kentucky poet Wendell Berry, Krapf’s forte is in recognizing the spiritual interaction between a people and their place. . . . For Krapf, the relationship is that of a son who has been much blessed through the sacredness of place and familial love.
The Sycamore Review

He is one of the best poets who have emerged in recent years, and the publication of his work is cause for celebration.
— Lucien Stryk, editor of Heartland II: Poets of the Midwest

Norbert Krapf is blessed with the haunting beauty of his childhood. . . . Family and friends crowd upon him, gentle men and women, hard working farmers straight out of gracious but impoverished Germany of the Nineteenth century. They are his roots in being, and he pays them deep, discerning love and gratitude for who they were and are to him still, strengthened in himself as man and poet because of them. Somewhere in Southern Indiana . . . is a book of rural psalms.
— David Ignatow, author of Against the Evidence: Selected Poems 1934–1994

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