My Oshkosh

One of the draw bridges in Oshkosh.

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.

My Oshkosh

A left turn on Murdoch and Jackson,

Winter 1992,

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,

the bar.

My Oshkosh

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.

My Oshkosh

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

Granite timeline

around steel fountain

Find my Oshkosh at

a South Park pavilion

A half barrel of beer

Under canvas.

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

In Oshkosh.

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

crumbled away-

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.

Our Oshkosh

protects and defends

flies on handcrafted wings,

sings, dances, paints,

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