This was a prompt that I knew would illicit a great response and exceptional poetry. Our poets did not disappoint on both counts. We’ve learned a lot about your home and origins and in turn about you. This was indeed a grand exercise. The sheer numbers do contribute to the difficulty in choosing just two poems for honors.
MARIE ELENA’S PICK OF THE BLOOM:
First, an “attaboy” to my partner for his prompt. Truly in my “top five” category!
It seems with each and every prompt, it becomes harder and harder to choose only one poem to honor. Such is the case today as I agonize over half a dozen poems that BEG a “bloom.” Some focus on family and, really, what is home if not family? Some expertly describe landscape and location. Some are brilliantly creative. But I finally decided to honor Jlynn (Janice) Sheridan’s “When Suburbs Were Born.” Though there are certainly other poems just as worthy, this poem oozes everyday life and breath in Chicago’s ‘burbs. The author manages to incorporate scent, sound, sight, fret, familiarity, custom, routine, vision, scene, and sentiment in this uniquely “Jlynn” piece. Bravo, and congratulations Janice!
When Suburbs Were Born by Jlynn Sheridan
Sweet home Chicago, I singeth not
of you but your sprawled tentacles
far-reaching along the Northwestern
rail line, the conductor bellowing for
tickets, his clickers chewing like mad
magpies, snatching prey before the
We time our walk to school by these
oil-stench trains. If we pass Baby Park
by 7:54, cross the street to avoid the DOM
(dirty old man,) by 7:56, don’t stop to
gape into the knot holes in the abandoned
barn searching for dead cows by 8:01.
If we bypass the sweet temptations of
the Cake Box, the cigar store with the
swinging saloon doors where we buy
baseball cards with the pink Bazooka
Joe gum inside,
then hurry by Hillenbrans where I bought
my first bra, then eyes to the pavement,
our worn shoes scurrying passed
where early commuters catch one more
before their chase for their train, slowing
us up as they decide which door to go in.
If we get passed all that by 8:07, we can
reach the station and avoid the three-minute
wait for stops at the crossing gate, and we
can safely trip over the four-rail gravelly
train highway just in time for the red light
at Northwest Highway.This rush of road
leads the clan of commuter trains into
the big city,
toward Sear’s Tower, and the lions in front of
the Field Museum, Wrigley Field, Comiskey
Navy Pier, Lake Michigan where the fancy
ladies shop along The Magnificent Mile
but we don’t because we live on the south
side of the tracks, the tracks we have to cross
to get to school every day, where we have to
meet up with the fancy north-siders who do.
My choice is for a poem which captured my original intention when I proposed this prompt to Marie. Where do we find home? Is it in early memories? Is it just a place? Do we carry it with us? My suspicion is it is a little bit of each. And so, I chose Connie L. Peters “WHERE I GREW UP”
WHERE I GREW UP by Connie L. Peters
Huddled in hills
in western Pennsylvania
sat a little pink house
(sometimes yellow, red or white)
by Charlie the Oak Tree
in a neighborhood where a creek
and a small road ran through,
by the name of Shannon, our name.
were scatted about
some longtime friends, too,
My four sisters and I
rarely stayed indoors
climbing trees, sled riding,
exploring the woods,
playing pretend games
after all the old shows,
eating fruits from trees, bushes
and even out of the gardens.
We were mad when
a new neighbor moved in
and wiped out the best blackberry patch.
Pappap sold the land bit by bit
and house grew up all over
hidden in the summer by the foliage
but in the winter we saw them encroaching.
The little road became busier
until kids no longer played on it like we did
when we needed a smooth, flat place.
We grew up and left and the pine trees
covered the yard, hiding the little house
until it was abused by renters and torn down.
But still, standing tall, is the Oak Tree, Charlie