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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008 07:35 am

People's poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document lovepoem #10   

in 1903 when my mother was eight she and her chums formed a music club they eschewed mozart beethoven bach in naming chose the buster brown and tige club after their favorite comic strip their motto was semper fidelis furnished by an older sibling studying latin they felt the need of a solemn pledge wrote one out all signed C McAulliffe Pres H Duck F McAullife V A Wardner M McAuliffe N McAllister Elizabeth Roemer they
placed their hands on the bible spoke
the oath in unison “I promise for one year
to refrain from intoxicating drinks” you doubt this my mother Vera was secretary and I have the original if youwish proof maybe I should laminate it frame it
one could do worse with pledges   

© Jacqueline Jackson 2008

All families have stories. As in the game of telephone, these get altered from mouth to ear from mouth to ear, and not only across generations; a single shared event will be recalled differently by each participating sibling. At family get-togethers this results in “No, you’ve got it all wrong — it was this way” and “I never said that — I’d never say that.” For this reason, we tend to look at someone’s memoirs with suspicion. Our local Lincoln author William Maxwell says in his book Ancestors that when he hears conflicting stories he believes them both. I’m apt to choose the more interesting unless it plays too much havoc with the facts. The important thing is to grab the memories, the likely and unlikely, and get them recorded, as Rodd Whelpley — a local poet, author of Capital Murder (2003), and editor of Illinois Parks & Recreation — is here reminding himself to do.

Excerpted from Things to Ask Aunt Nikki Next Visit

Item 6. Pets:
A) The monkey story,
   as it’s come to the youngest Whelpley boys is:
   Uncle Dave got it
--- was it called
--- from someone on
Free Press route who hated
   how it shit in the house. Tale goes that
   it didn’t last long. Played on the phone wires
   after a storm. Burned its hands.
   Fell to its death.

B) More evidence for Jackson,
  the citified donkey, my brother Randy’s alleged transport
to and from school in the fifties (a photo --- somewhere ---    of them at the old elementary yard). J got in
  grandma’s house. Scared Aunt Rikki. Ate
  from the ashtrays.
  Same animal I saw
  on a farm outside town
  when I was five? (Would have been 1970.)
  Randy said so. But
  our family fibs.

Really, somebody needs to write this down.

Jacqueline Jackson, books and poetry editor of Illinois Times, is a professor emerita of English at the University of Illinois at Springfield. People’s Poetry accepts poems on any subject, but ones that deal with issues of local interest are encouraged. Send yours to Jacqueline Jackson c/o Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705, or to editor@illinoistimes.com with “People’s Poetry” in the subject line.
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