1953 IN TANKA: A YEAR IN SMALL-TOWN ILLINOIS

small town

January

frozen cream shoving
the cap out of the bottle –
whole milk of winter –
its icy Holstein essence
delivered fresh to the door

milk

February

skating on Shoal Creek –
ice cracks like a rifle shot
and transforms us both
from skaters into swimmers
huddled steaming by the fire

March

Sky King’s niece Penny
in that twin-engined Cessna –
Saturday mornings
twelve year old boys dream about
pony-tailed girls and flying

sky king

April

we always butchered
chickens for Sunday’s dinner
pinfeather plucking
wet feather Saturday smell,
blood spatters on the green grass

May

mimicking the nest
of an oriole, bee swarm
hangs high in the tree
tempting us, our burlap bags,
ladder, and hive box ready

bee

June

our mulberry hands
bloody from murdered berries –
the stigmata stain
confessing our transgression –
the sweetness still on our tongues

July

calcium carbide,
water – makes acetylene
and a coffee can
blows its top into the air –
our home-made Fourth of July

August

cassocked altar boys
serve Mass, their incense burners,
swinging pendulums,
measuring what time remains
with fragrant, even motion

apple tree

September

orchard’s green apples –
shake of salt tames the sour
bitterness of fall –
we can see our whole summer
from the high crotch of this tree

October

shelled corn and lye soap
the Halloween essentials
attacking windows
we dispensed tricks in protest
over treats never received

corn

November

we all ate rabbit
on this one Thanksgiving day
when cash was so scarce
two families’ hungry kids
were nervous as cottontails

December

penny on the track
B&O locomotive
barreling on through
this two bit whistle stop town
nothing ever happens here

train

Poem about growing up in a small town in Illinois. Images from my photos and some taken from the web and filtered with Photoshop.