sometimes i forget i have a blog

Standard

cityscapes while sitting on a cold, cold stone

it’s been a full day
business + reminisce,
lake shore & shoreline.
the city-
it costs to walk the streets here.
unnoticed is unpaid…
not everyone has a dream beyond
a warm meal and a safe bed.

street gospel thaws a pedestrian
every 6 or 7 turns.
that’s not too bad
but it’s not too good either.

can you tell me where the yellow brick road goes
when unaccompanied by
red sequined shoes?

bitch, ain’t nobody
got time for that.

gas station dialogue

Standard

Found Mister D #7

no problem-
have a good night
tires are washed out
clutch is sticking
dr pepper, not much
else is clicking
their dad needs his lotto cards
pays with a roll of quarters
he goes back in one more time
the sixth


heyyMichele McDannold is the author of Stealing the Midnight from a Handful of Days, a book of poetry available from PUNK HOSTAGE PRESS. She was the Editor-in-Chief at Red Fez Publications for five years and is currently the editor/publisher at Citizens for Decent Literature. She has an extensive collection of flannel and rubber chicken heads. For more, please visit michelemcdannold.com.

it’s one thing…

Standard

i want to love Meredosia–it’s my hometown.

It’s one thing to come home to visit and find the town decimated as if a war or the apocalypse happened while you were gone. Were the residents sleeping? Are they okay? Is there anyone left? ..recalling though, oh yes–it’s just the ramp coming through, access to the new bridge.

20160424_072919

The new bridge, necessary, crossing the Illinois River. but there? They took out the village park, the Veterans’ Memorial, the grocery store folded… everyone goes to Dollar General on the edge of town now for in between the absolutely necessary out-of-town shopping. There is no chicken salad special or $5 crackers anymore. DG won’t run a tab for you and your family. The old Lutheran Church behind the park where my folks were married, gone some years ago and now the rest.. along with other resident’s homes on Main Street, gone.

How much can you relocate? Can you relocate the heart of a community? I’d really like to know because I’m trying to find it.

This time I come home to see not just more destruction but a sick, irreverent blow at the very roots of this village. There are so many things you may be looking for in a modern life that you will not find here. We can still assure you a few things. There will be more churches than bars but we’ll keep it a stiff competition. I believe we will always be able to boast people dug into their eccentricities, perhaps without neat labels maybe, but still–there is a certain freedom in all the peoples knowing your dirt for generations going back. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Family, history–and there is where my list both stops and gets complicated.

No longer can we offer a park, a fish market or grocery, the bandstand is next they say. There was a town doctor once but that was over long ago. Still, we have the funeral parlor where each one of us, I dare say, has likely sat still to mourn loved ones and ruminate on our own mortality. We will always have that, so long as there’s anyone left to care…

as well our little cemetery. Oakland Cemetery on the south edge of town.

20160425_100359

I have to wonder though, thus the piss and vinegar of this visit as Mom takes me over to the cemetery to see Papa’s (my grandfather) trees, all marked up for removal and yet still brilliant despite the spray paint.

those two lovelies together off in the distance

those two lovelies together off in the distance

See, the committee of town board members responsible for the upkeep of the cemetery has seen fit to crudely mark not just trees for removal on these personal burial plots but also to remove or damage, without warning or consideration, other markers and memorials throughout the cemetery. There is no rhyme or reason that I can note. The trees are not all dead and/or dangerous, the memorials and markers not all old and decrepit, certainly not unsightly and who gets to judge that anyway.

My understanding is that through an ordinance passed by the village, new trees and shrubs are not to be planted. I’m not even going to argue that one. It’s for another day. Thing is, these trees were planted a long long time ago, quite before the ordinance. I can’t speak for the rest of the trees marked up, but those on my grandparent’s plot were planted by my grandfather when his wife passed in 1975. I was less than a year old. These trees have grown with me. I recall first my grandfather and later my mother taking great care of those plots, the trees, tending potted flowers, placing grave blankets of pine needles at Christmastime…

20160424_095357

As I’m walking the cemetery, I recall a poem I wrote some years ago. I spent a great deal of time standing on the border of the cemetery looking out while at the babysitter’s.

How do they care for their dead? Important to ponder don’t you think?

Flowers, Mostly Plastic

in the back yard
I had a big mound of sand
two times, maybe three, my height
supposing to play in
sometimes I even did

building castles, forts and things
more often than not, I sat on the edge of the yard
where there was a plot of concrete
planned once for a basketball court, I think
there I would sit
on the cool cement among the abandoned,
rusting metal toy cars
and watch

I was watching the wind blow
and the shadow fall
I was watching every tiny distracting sense
of the moment
as it passed
in the graveyard next door

I watched the people come, though not often
I watched the flowers, mostly plastic
I watched them fall and tumble
I watched them scoot, almost play
one day here, another there
among the gravestones
I watched the seasons change
the leaves on the trees to the ground
and the man working
I would hide then, behind the shed
watching in secret

how do they care for their dead?
(I did not think of that then)
—-

Maybe part of the problem is contracting out the upkeep of the cemetery to the lowest bidder each year who could care less other than a paycheck. Get the job done and quick—less trees and markers, less things to mow around. Hell, maybe we should just pave it! Get rid of the gravestones while you’re at it… very unsightly.

No. I don’t know what is wrong with the board members, most especially our long-as-I-can-remember neighbor (leading the charge) who has in his lifetime enjoyed more meals at my family’s table than I care to think about right now. Why? Why is this even happening, I keep asking myself. I am really struggling here to understand.

I’m actually a bit of a connoisseur of cemeteries, weird as I am and I’m here to tell you, you are taking out the best parts and you are doing it in the worst possible way.

20160425_100725

Zero respect for the dead or their remaining family. It takes a lot to offend me. Words rarely do it. The dirty is in the deed and I am surely offended as such.

Resolution, I don’t know. Even if the fight no longer continues, a great rift remains.

Perhaps what is needed is a caretaker. If there is money for a contract, why not that money for a regular, seasonal position. Much like the one remembered in my poem. I have dug around a little to find out for certain who the man was but to no avail. My best guess is that it was Andy McDannald. It would have been late 70s/early 80s that I am recalling. Though I don’t remember words being spoken between us, I’m certain there probably were a few but nothing at length, mostly just me noticing someone taking great care over there of the graves and the grounds. Even though at that age I did not realize how important that was or why I would think it important to take note of in a poem later, I know seeing that felt right and good and comforting. How a person goes about a thing can make all the difference in the world. Approach with honor and reverence. If you cannot, do not approach at all.

20160425_100955

Finally, I will leave you with one more poem, written several years ago as I sat at Diamond Grove Cemetery (beautiful for all it’s old trees, stone angels and benches..), mourning a love lost and out of respect, love and remembering my Papa, his ways and his life.

papa3

Far left Violet & Harold “Spud” Bennett

Cemetery Poem (for my love)

i’m sitting here at the
cemetery
talking to myself
i think i’ll probably
be here awhile
be doing this
wondering all along
if it will be enough

this is where i go
when none of it makes sense
just so you know

where it is quiet
my mind quiets
there is some sort of peace
in the finality

i think of papa
his letters
sent home while
out on the river
or out to sea
for months
and months on end
starting the letter, stopping
and beginning again
if only a sentence or two
in between the work
that keeps him away

how he called her
my love
and still she
drank just a little too much
a little too often

all this i learn from old letters
see in yellowed photographs

how she stared off-center
with a sadness around
the eyes
only laughing in the photo
when he’s seated next to her
and all those years
since she died
he lived on, puttering
through life

i wonder if he
pretended she was there
for the rest of it
for the baseball games
over the radio
the mornings in the garden
the looking out over
everything
wondering…
what does it matter
anyway

today on duncan avenue
in diamond grove cemetery
it does not matter
i talk to myself
i will lie down
in the earth by myself
search for you
in the next life
and hope
it will be easier


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Michele McDannold is the author of Stealing the Midnight from a Handful of Days, a book of poetry available from PUNK HOSTAGE PRESS. She was the Editor-in-Chief at Red Fez Publications for five years and is currently the editor/publisher at Citizens for Decent Literature. She has an extensive collection of flannel and rubber chicken heads. For more, please visit michelemcdannold.com.

re-evaluate what’s needed, make do, GO

Standard

2/7/1520150207_091506

view from the driver’s side window. no glass, just tape

20150207_091656

Dallas City, IL

20150207_091739

random trains in yards

20150207_092418

jeep tunes.

20150207_092425

point of departure

Standard

It was February 7th, 2015. No colder than any days before, remembered. Crisper, maybe. When there has been snow and retaining temperatures most often accompanied by grey days then you get a break like this morning sun before the warm reaches and melts a thing, one could look out over the flattened cornfields of illinois running into the horizon, the vanilla icing top layer thin that makes that noise when your shoe pops down to powder and still you might think you could work up a good slide and just whoosh off into forever…

This was the point of departure that would turn into 12 of the 15 states I traveled to in 2015 from February to May. For the miles, I’d have to check the record. Admittedly, it was the least anticipated, planned or organized journey. Just to say that my intention was to make it count.20150207_081940

20150207_082301

20150207_082330

20150207_083615

20150207_083622

20150207_085740

from a window she decides to go

Standard

the last two pics are of a building i watched slowly fall over the year prior. seems fitting that on my way out, it was done.20150205_100049

20150205_124528

20150205_124533

20150205_124538

20150205_124545

20150205_130853

20150205_130902

20150205_130931

20150205_131000

20150205_131005

redeciding how the road goes

Standard

2/3/15
McDonough County, Illinois

20150203_095127

20150203_100632

20150203_102133

20150203_111610

20150203_111938

20150203_112114

20150203_112204

20150203_112228