Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Western City, Dreaming

“How many times I saw my western city/Dream by her river.”
--Sara Teasdale, “Sunset: St. Louis” from
Flame and Shadow

"A mourning figure walks, and will not rest..."
--Vachel Lindsay, "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight"

That’s what old river towns do,
dream by their rivers, dream of the
days of glory and wealth and triumphs,
when the making of things was important
and the shipping of things was vital and the
banking of things was critical and the litigating
of things made and shipped and banked was lifeblood;
and now old river towns doze and occasionally half-wake,
with ears closed and one eye open, dreaming by their rivers,
and with ears open and one eye closed, dreaming of the
mourning figure walking
the prairie streets.

This is a poem for the Random Act of Poetry sponsored by the High Calling Blogs. L.L. Barkat provided the prompt: Begin with a sentence with a picture in it, like from a poem, and then write from a memory or event or simply what comes to mind. I chose the lines above from the Sara Teasdale and Vachel Lindsay poems, both of which are featured today at TweetSpeak Poetry for National Poetry Month.

And Louise Gallagher at Recover Your Joy got inspired by all of this and wrote "River Deep."


Anonymous said...

Oh this is delightful. I just love the pictures it conjures up in my mind. Perfection! :)

Maureen said...

This is wonderful, Glynn. The rhythm, the accumulation of detail building almost to overflowing, then leveling out and falling back, like rivers themselves do; and the contrast of dreaming and dozing, and mourning. I like how you put it all together, worked in the prompts that inspired you. Very deeply felt.

Anonymous said...

love this

i am attatched to many of the words.
river towns
mourning figure walking

the whole thing is like finding an a very old photograph. i feel like i would like to go back in time and sit on the bank of that river.

nitewrit said...


Something about your poem reminds me of Carl Sandburg, a poet I read a lot in my youth. Very good.

Louise Gallagher said...

Love the rythym and flow of the poem -- and the imagery of the river flowing through time and space and lives.


L.L. Barkat said...

oh, Glynn, this is a good one. And I agree about the Sandburg comparison. Maybe it is the sleepiness of it, like the fog on little cat feet. :)

S. Etole said...

I do enjoy your poetry ... line upon line

IAMdave said...

Several years ago we took a family vacation to Hannibal. For me Glynn, the picture you have painted expresses the expectations we had and what we discovered. Both, as it turned out, were good.

Unknown said...

Like they said.

When my father passed away several years back, I came back home by way of Memphis and the Mississippi, crossed into Missouri at Cairo - and my heart sort of stopped there - all those vacant buildings. My kids didn't really get it - how so much that was is no more, all the businesses that no longer exist. My father worked for PDM Steel (another company that is no more) they (not him) built your arch there in St. Louis. He always mentioned that when we were through that way.

I will come back to this poem.

Missy K said...


This is really really good-- I think the Sandburg flavor is from his poem about Chicago, but this is a quieter, more meditative poem-- I love it.