Celebrating Earth Day – “Where I’m From, Lake Michigan Straddles the Shores” by Brian Czyzyk

In addition to the newest album from Taylor Swift, ‘THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT: THE ANTHOLOGY,’ creative writers are found expressing themselves within every publication of Third Coast!

As Earth Day approaches on Monday, April 22nd, we have selected a picturesque poem from Issue 51 by Brian Czyzyk. His piece depicts the nostalgia tied into our childhood landscapes, and describes his longing for a world without “runoff”. Whether one lives in a metropolis or a small town, I think it can be agreed upon that nature is important to us all, and should be treated as such. Even if waves only straddle the shore in our memory, there is something sacred that lives in areas untouched by the “squeal of passing cars”.

In the Great Lakes State that Third Coast calls home, we are lucky to experience four seasons. With warm weather just around the corner, Czyzyk’s poem reminds us of the wonderful lake days coming our way, as well as the need to preserve the environment we live in. Whether you live in an urban area or not, there is the opportunity to plunge into written portrayals of nature from right where we’re sitting!

— Logen Crandall, Editorial Intern


Where I’m From, Lake Michigan Straddles the Shores

between sand dune & cityscape.
I spent so many summers skipping
rocks along its surface, pinched flattened

granite & basalt between my thumb
& forefinger, swung one arm in an arc then
watched the ripples smooth into the sand.

I want back the sparse clutches
of puzzlegrass, the blue stretches
of water & sky—on a clear July day,

the difference grows imperceptible.
I’ve long lived like this: between water.
Now, I’m pinned to flat fields of soybeans

by horizonless sky. At a bus stop, I’m eyed
by turkey vultures, farmhands, drivers
on the highway rushing elsewhere. The whole thing

gives me vertigo. I need boundaries & shape.
Need the sun steeped like a saffron sachet
in water unmucked by runoff & swell.

I know this is selfish. As if I could stake
claim on an entire lake. But no one
ever said it’s impossible to be haunted

by a place you once called home. I guess
leaving is like this. Sowing your doubts
until you wake up to buzzards carving

hoops in the gray sky, listening to the cough
& squeal of passing cars until the bus ratchets
up, & you climb through the doors alone.


Brian Czyzyk is a poet from Traverse City, Michigan. His work has most
recently appeared in The Cincinnati Review, The Journal, Colorado Review, and
the New Poetry from the Midwest 2019 anthology. He holds an MFA from
Purdue University and is currently a PhD candidate in creative writing at
the University of North Texas. He wishes you the best.