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Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013 12:00 am

What some other folks do

What do other folks do? Those that don't attend the Illinois State Fair or mill about the pool. Well, this poet goes out into the world and welcomes in happy little moments. Unafraid to find a sweet rendezvous in unexpected little places or pleasures, fearlessly finding connections, sometimes between the natural world and the world inside my head, I marvel at the wonder of it all.

For me Saturday was a pleasant mixture of pain and pleasure. A baby shower somehow sparked intense memories of a lost loved one. It is strange what triggers grief. More angst later, then I was off toward a poetry reading. The reading had been on my calendar. A poet from Iowa was in town to read at the Vachel Lindsay Home. He is a teacher and editor of North American Review so I thought there might be something to learn from this man -- if not, perhaps something he said or wrote would inspire me. Inspiration to a poet is like sunlight to a sunflower, morning to a morning glory.


I was not let down. But first I must tell you, I detoured to Southwind Park and took a long walk. Central Illinois' cool weather for this time of year, flowers abloom, a little exercise and fresh air -- I knew that would tilt the scales away from a bad day back up into the plenitude of a good day. And lookie here, above, at this gorgeous flower and a flower someone left in the fountain. (I think about the scenario of who left the flower and why, and how beautiful the textures and colors of the flower, water and stone are, and how fortunate I am that I can appreciate and feel joy from this.) Southwind has many lovely areas to sit and enjoy water or foliage. I walked, shot a couple photos and pointed the car toward downtown Springfield.

My radio was still on WQNA to hear The Flyover Zone where I had earlier in the day tuned in briefly and heard Hugh Moore, Siobhan and Lana read their poems. Hugh features poetry quite regularly on his radio show. But this afternoon someone was playing old love songs. They were digging into my psyche, touching that grief again and intermittently dallying between the joy of love from the man I had lost to the great Kahuna -- death -- and the past where I was a younger me listening to and feeling these songs.

So of course the Vachel Lindsey Home State Historic Site reading with Jeremy Schraffenberger was right on point, target, whatever you want to use here as the appropriate noun. He read poems about love and death. Of course he did.



I was stirred by his love poems and his Cento poems using the last words of people who had died. Centos are poems using parts of other author's works. The passages or lines are arranged into a new poem in the same way fabric pieces are sown together into a quilt. This was of particular interest to me on this day and because I had been at the bedside of my dying lover to hear his last words. Schraffenbergher's poems moved me including these lines from his book Saint Joe's Passion from the poem "Saint Joe Considers the Footpath":

Sleep comes running,/the rain slips/down around/the trunks of sugar maples/into the creek," ...

"Let's follow the footpath/home, hang ourselves/to dry."


Vachel Lindsay Association board member Ted Morrissey (white shirted man standing) introduced Jeremy Schraffenbergher. I'm impressed with Jeremy. And it's not because he edits a literary magazine or has a book of poems or teaches at a college. It's something intangible that reaches me through his poetry and language. It is that thing one poet knows about another poet. That he is skilled at the crafting of words but also that he's thrown in his own special seasoning. And that makes all the difference. When a good poet crafts good words, it is like stopping to smell the flowers or appreciating a lover's touch. The whole world opens wider and makes a little bit of sense.

Site Director Jennie Battles once again provided some wonderful morsels.


As I was leaving, I took a couple photos of the home's front and back entrances. These are perhaps different shots than you have seen of the home. I think that's what a good poet does. He helps you see what you haven't seen before and what was always there.


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