I did not spend a lot of time contemplating the city I have lived in since the early 1990s. Becoming Oshkosh’s poet laureate changed this. Writing poetry helps you to reflect on life and I am thankful for the lesson this role has taught me to look at my community.
I began to think of how much where I lived influenced my life. It just struck me how it influenced my life. Made it richer.
That is not to say that Oshkosh is perfect and that people have not had bad experiences here. I believe those times should be explored through poems and just conversations. I want to know what people went through.
However, I wanted to write a poem about what Oshkosh has given me. Gratitude is always important.
A left turn on Murdoch and Jackson,
soon took us past cows.
My dad in his van and me
in my Delta 88.
turned around at the dealership
in the middle of nowhere.
headed back into town.
That town became my Oshkosh.
My Oshkosh was the
L-shaped library addition
Now my Oshkosh
Is spelled PVBLIC
My Oshkosh was the joke,
I’m at the library, meaning,
was the slow swivel of the rusty train bridge.
The bang of the back door of Tony’s pizza,
the Hour Bar clinging to its basement walls
I watched Oshkosh
atop a Baslers’ gas truck
WWII planes screaming over
JCPenny’s parking lot.
My Oshkosh, my home,
became holiday pageants with the clatter
of little feet on risers in tiled gyms.
Parent teacher conferences
on tiny chairs.
became standing on shore
of Menominee Park
with my back to the fireworks
shielding my daughter from the wind
My Oshkosh is
the smell of kettle corn,
the two-person band on Main Street
decorated lion statues
in the Public Square
around steel fountain
Find my Oshkosh at
a South Park pavilion
A half barrel of beer
It’s in my bones
after a volleyball game
It’s the child wrapped in a towel
after the splashpad.
My Oshkosh is waiting-
for a train on New York
for the bridge
on Main, on Wisconsin, on Congress
and grumbling about rich boat owners,
forgetting a city is motion.
In the middle of the mixture
of downtown churchgoers
and Roxy diners,
you’ll be immersed
As much as those houses
that once lapped at the train tracks
on Division Street.
Our Oshkosh runs
from the fairgrounds to Parnell’s
Just past Ardy’s and Eds
Our Oshkosh extends
As it meanders.
Our Oshkosh sits on lawn chairs
in the open garage
at your grandma’s house
facing the mansions on Bay Shore Drive.
It did not disappear
Just because Buckstaff’s Observatory,
Leach Truck, Morgan Doors, Rockwell
like the bridge to the lighthouse.
Where did The Library’s musty books go?
Our Oshkosh swarms-
with Father Carr’s, Damascus Road,
Christin Ann Center, Habitat for Humanity
Food pantries, the warming shelter-
to help others
like lakeflies taking over storm doors.
protects and defends
flies on handcrafted wings,
sings, dances, paints,