The Collins Poetry Residency is established in honor of the Richard Collins family and their contributions to and encouragement of poets and poetry in the Iowa/Illinois Quad Cities and the Upper Mississippi River Valley. The residency supports community-based poetry and a regional poet who resides in the six-county Quad City area (Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, Scott, Clinton, Muscatine).

2010 Poet-in-Residence is Salvatore Marici of Port Byron

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mary Beth Kwasek: Thirteen

The 2010 Collins Poetry Residency ends today. Thank you for your participation.

Mary Beth Kwasek is an English teacher at a community college and a member of Quint City Poets. Mary Beth packed this poem with imagery of at least three of the senses and with strategically placed similes, while the beginning and the end loop the poem. I will not say more and let you enjoy.


The “who” at the beginning
of the red-winged black bird’s call
resonates in a girl
in a tiny red wind breaker
soft from two year’s wear
short in the sleeves and waist
who stands out in a field
still brown and soggy
weepy from winter snow.

Her flesh --
the luminous tan and pink
of freshly cut cedar
Wisps escape from her brown braid
and curl like
butterflies’ tongues
tasting her salty neck and face.
Her fingers tinker
with the string to the kite
that leaps away from her arms
in a colored blur
joyful and unfettered
beloved in her eyes.
A tug brings it soaring one way
then the other
always farther and farther
away from her body.

Her spine plays
underneath the thin coat
pressed and pulled.
Tongue explores her mouth.
Body sings madly with breath
as the kite
burns and flickers
against the gray clouds
tied together with the black ribbons
of migrating birds,
flocking above the flat landscape
watching as it heals its winter bruises
perching in the bare branches
dark shadows of the leaves to come,

but she doesn’t notices the birds.
She thinks about the kite and
the pasque flowers
that silently opened
without her knowing
reaching their purple petals outward
exposing their golden hearts
to the rainy cold day.
Some had even formed
green pods round and ripe
without anyone
to admire their flowering.

did not come to her mind
nor tulips
smuggled away by the moles.
For these flowers were planned
for when the sunny skies
and the warmth
made it convenient
to see them,
but not the pasques—
blooming, oh so early
before anyone would think
to venture out from the house
to notice.

The cold from the ground rises and
strips her of her coat and jeans
clothing her in spring chill
while in the field below her feet
the wild carrots stiffen
their sap quickens
their soft fern-leaves greens.
She stands there
looking upward
and they whisper of
the purple stain and
willing whiteness
of the tall graceful flowers to come.

Her breath catches the air
with the lacy mist
as she watches the kite
reach out to the sky
almost obscured by the soft rain.
She extends herself toward it
up from the earth.
Her soul’s muscle
strains, strongly-strung
in a tall slender girl
holding fast to the string
that burns her fingers
and captures her breath
too quick, too unexpected
it will run out.
It pulls at her strong arms
that refuse to let go
before the very end

as the “chirree”
the shrill end
of the red-winged black bird’s call
meets the girl’s ears
like cracks frolicking through
half frozen puddles
heralding the coming of spring.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mary Kae Waytenick: Lucy in the Sky with Elvis

Mary Kae Waytenick retired from 25 years of public school music teaching. Now, she is the director of music and organist at a Rock Island church, directs a flute choir, accompanies performers, volunteers with the symphony, and has time to do some composing. She has a B.M.E. from Augustana College and M.M. from Indiana University.

Mary wrote, “I attended an outdoor concert in the city park of Orion, Ill. Elvis and the Beatles were the performers in the 100-year-old band shell. It was a beautiful night, and the sights and sounds seemed almost surreal as the memories from those years crossed time. I felt compelled to write my impressions of that evening.” This scene is Pepperland before it falls under a surprise attack by the music-hating Blue Meanies.

Lucy in the Sky with Elvis

Summer eve concert in Orion with so much to savor,
A big slice of American pie filled with robust flavor.
Diamond chips glitter in the paling sheet of sky.
The moon plays peekaboo with aviator flies.
Rows and rows of lawn chairs, each placed to see the sight
Of wild vibrations in kingly fashion, middle-aged music piercing the night.
Elvis romps and stretches, struts and calls the tunes.
His spotlight seems brighter than the man in the moon.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah!”

Purple dressed ladies wave their hats to beat the band.
And the shocker of it all: They do the can-can!
“Yeah, yeah, yeah!”

Ringo gives the beat for the rock and roll show.
Behind his drums the keyboard hides that makes brass and strings go.
Floating down is Elvis in his jumpsuit that must swell
With pride to have the strength to hold in the King so well.
“Who could ask for more?”

Just one more thing would take this evening over the top.
The audience was sated, but Elvis wouldn’t stop.
While singing Memory, with a spray can he painted,
And soon a six foot portrait of himself was created.

So much music from this vintage band shell:
Even had ice cream and the town band played as well!
They shared their public home with Elvis and the Beatles.
“Look out! There goes Alice chasing a rabbit!”
“Let it be! Let it be!”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Luke Deitrick: Breeze

This one of the three poems I will publish before closing the journal.

Luke Deitrick hails from the city of Springfield, Ill., but is now proud to call the cornfield sea known as Geneseo home. He participated in the Young Emerging Writers program for two years before finally yielding to the curse of old age. Even so, the toaster will continue to toast.

Luke wrote, “The inspiration for Breeze came from a lakeside fishing cabin in Canada. Each morning, the window overlooking the nearby lake offered a thick fog masked breathtaking scenery, until one morning, everything except for the dock. The idea is that one detail of a place, no matter how simple, can be integral in releasing the overall beauty.” The repetition of the poem builds suspense and then it ends like a blackout. I do not know what format this poem is in or if it is a formal form, so I am calling it Luke’s form.


Up one morning
and out the window,
the wind waltzed the water,
And the dock wavered.

Up one morning
and out the window,
the wind waltzed the water
and gave the eager leaves a voice,
And the dock wavered.

Up one morning
and out the window,
the wind waltzed the water
gave the eager leaves a voice
and beckoned eyes to the paint palette sky,
And the dock wavered.

Up one morning
and out the window,
the wind waltzed the water
gave the eager leaves a voice
beckoned eyes to the paint palette sky-
to shower color to the stage where the wind waltzed the water,
While the dock wavered.

Up one morning
and out the window,
The dock stood still.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Richard Stahl: I Want to See the Birth of the Mississippi River

This is the last official poem of the 2010 Collins Poetry Residency because the journal was supposed to end today. However, each day I will continue to post poems that I have and will receive up to 27 October 2010 at 11:59 PM. But, I will only post poems from poets I have not yet published and those that meet the prompt.

Your submissions made this journal successful. We published poems from established poets to emerging poets who submitted a poem for the first time. Poets across the oceans, young and mature poets, poets from the eastern U.S. and many poets from Illinois/Iowa Quad Cities submitted. I applaud you and please applaud each other.

We must also applaud the Midwest Writing Center for sponsoring this residency and we must give an ovation to Robin Throne. She brainstormed the concept of this residency, she set up and kept this journal running free of technical issues, she worked behind the scenes, she made the broadside a reality and she was my mentor throughout the residency. Robin poured the cement for the foundation where we the poets built this community.

I hope to see you tonight at the Midwest Writing Center and hear you read your poems!
Thank you
- Salvatore Marici.
Now here is the poem for 27 October 2010.

Richard (or better known as Dick) Stahl has said, “When my father delivered milk in downtown Davenport, Ia., I roamed the levee and Le Claire Park and was inspired by seeing the beauty of the Mississippi River early in the morning. I am still inspired by the rolling power of its currents. I was the first Quad-City Arts Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003.” In his context statement, he added, "I read that the Mississippi River is a trickle of what it once was. I can only wonder how wide and powerful it was in geological time.” He emphasizes his desire for experiencing the Mississippi River’s birth with the repetition of 'I want to'."

I Want to See the Birth of the Mississippi River

I want to see its first little fingers slide down
the dry land to make
the valley
of the Mississippi.

I want to catch its pure waters come
like a pulsing artery.

I want to touch the glacial melt rise, cut deeper, roll stronger,
muscle its way with sharp
elbows, heaving chests, gathering breaths
at every stretch
of its youth tickling my toes.

I want to step back at the last moment
as the gushing waters widen the shorelines
and race their way south
in a slab
of mist showering
my face.

I want to stand on higher ground
as the water spreads its corrugated skin
under the burning sun
to catch the stippled spots
in its troughs.

I want to hear the roar
of waves shooting skyward
and shoving me back
in full retreat
before the charging
catch me chest high.

I want to believe
the inspiring birth of this waterway
and consecrates
my watch
with the first wash of its
sacred waters.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ann Hudson: If You Can Climb Up, You Can Climb Down

Ann Hudson grew up in Charlottesville, Va., in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but has lived in Chicago for the past 11 years. Her first book, The Armillary Sphere, was selected by Mary Kinzie as the winner of the Hollis Summers Prize, and was published by Ohio University Press in 2006. Ann was also one of MWC's 2010 Great River Writers' Retreat winners and held a reading at St. Ambrose University on October 22 with Paul Brooke. During the retreat, she was the guest of the Sisters of Saint Mary Monastery where she spent the week writing and exploring the nuns’ 90 beautiful acres of land. She thanks the MWC for this fantastic opportunity. You can find this poet at

Her poem shows a child looking at her world from a new perspective and her stalling to return. It also shows how the parent is pleased with her daughter’s discovery. Yet, the voice slips from present to the past. Though the past is gone, it lingers beneath the ground. I will let parents realize the metaphor.

If You Can Climb Up, You Can Climb Down

Today my daughter’s classmate
teaches her to climb a tree,
a runty crabapple in the corner
of the playground. It’s stooped and low,
the branches curved in a goblet of leaves
that holds two young girls perfectly,
their knees clamped against the rough bark.
It’s about high time someone
showed her how to scramble up
the short trunk and swing her torso
over a branch, pivoting her weight
to her advantage. They perch up there
all recess and again after school,
and although I scold her about ignoring
my warnings that we need to go,
and tell her a dozen times
not to work her fingers into the tear
in her leggings until I can mend them,
I’m pleased. Particularly in the flatlands,
it’s a good thing to find a place to climb
up and away, to vanish in a canopy
of leaves and ivory blossoms. It’s good
to let your shoes dangle off the ground,
to feel gravity cuffing your ankles.
Look out where there once was prairie:
switchgrass, clover, false heather,
horsemint, wild carrot, junegrass, aster.
Below the roots of the crabapple
are dormant bluestem rhizomes,
gnarled and still multiplying underground.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Clarence Wiser: Sparrow to Homeland

Clarence Wiser is a poet and short story author from Rock Island, Ill. A funeral of an old friend inspired him to write this poem. Neighbors scorned the deceased's lifestyle when she was young. The title and each stanza are metaphors on the deceased and her mourners.

Sparrow to Homeland

Above birthright's
Common chaff,
She soared

Seduced by the whirlwind,

There's talk of love,
Loincloth pulled from ebon attic
To clothe tongue's sharp cut.

Frocked in dead winter's pall,
She lies naked
As mourners file past
chipping away lingered ice form.

And I,
I long her to reach out,
Take my hand,
And lead me from this hovering chill.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Paul Brooke: Tending a Fungal Garden

Paul Brooke is a professor and once-trained biologist and naturalist from Ames, Ia. An avid outdoorsman and nature photographer, Brooke seeks to learn the intricacies of many ecosystems in order to understand his own place in the world. His work has been published in The North American Review, The Antioch Review, and Flyway. His newest book, Meditations on Egrets, was released in August of this year. Paul was also one of MWC's 2010 Great River Writers' Retreat winners and held a reading at St. Ambrose University on October 22 with Ann Hudson.

This poem stems from Paul’s newest manuscript, Kept in the Sunlight: Poems of the Rain Forest. In this collection, he uses the rain forest as a metaphoric hot bed. The poem examines leaf-cutting ants and how their ways could help understand our own.

Tending a Fungal Garden

Leaf-cutting ants
are Herculean,
carrying trunks
of stems and table
tops of leaves
enormous distances
to their burrows.

Inside is all rot
and decay, a bed
of fungus, which
they tend like
vegetable gardeners,
nourishment for their
soft-bodied young.

If I could, I'd bury
all the bad
of my life
the taunts
about crooked teeth,
the relentless gossip
about drinking,
the rumors
about hots trysts.
Compost them,
turn them, water
them, until they form
a single fruiting body.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

John Denton: untitled

John Denton is a young Illinois poet who shares with us a sense of place some of us may never know or experience...


We get beefin
Machine’s will be beepin
And bleepin
Them straps will get to clappin and clickin
Don’t get caught slippin
Im silahin and creepin
I let my actions do the speakin
When you leanin on the cement
You gon’ see whst I meant
I tried to prevent the sequence of events
Ya’ll gon’ me do some sitt im gon’ resent
And it won\t be my first offense
I prolly get sent
Back to the pin where color of your skin
Determine where you fit in
And then
Id prolly get shon hed for not plegin legiance
Cuz when you locked up you only friend in this jesus
Like him desired to die
By the hands of my enemy’s
Im in drop tops like John F. Kennedy

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stephan Abbott/John Denton/Greg Miller/Mike Miller/Skyler OHanlon/Steven Mooney/Justin Reed/5thSt Shawty/Ashley Shownolove/Nick Tharp: BlackHawk Squad

I had the privilege of conducting a workshop with some young poets in East Moline, Ill., on Thursday. This poem shows how the seed for a poem can emerge from an image as simple as a bottle of water sitting on a desk. Stephan Abbott, John Denton, Mike Miller, Skyler O'Hanlon, Steven Mooney, Justin Reed, 5th Street Shawty, Ashley Shownolove, and Nick Tharp all collaborated to write this poem. A collaboration poem can be one of the most difficult to write, especially in less than two hours! Only these poets know whether their poem is finished or whether it will continue to evolve... [the working title of this poem was "Aqua Watta," but it quickly became about something else]

Black Hawk Squad
Goin to the club
Rollin on the dubs
Bangin in the subs
Makin lub
Got girls on deck
Got my squad/Show respect
Keepin h8ters in check
If you want it just flex

Gotta lotta
Botta watta
Gotta lotta dollas
Shotta vocka
Makin all the ladies holla

We ain’t gotta go home
But we all gotta go/Mind state movin real slow
Jus goin wit the flow/C u at da doh
Cruisin in the street on that same beat
In the Maserati goin to the party
Mooney ridin shotgun grippin the shawty
Goin round town tryin to find Gotti

Gotta lotta
Botta watta
Gotta lotta dollas
Shotta vocka
Makin all the ladies holla

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saverio Minervini: Butterfly

Saverio Minervini is a first-generation American, born and raised in northern New Jersey. He works in the banking industry in New York, and is a graduate student in financial engineering. Over the past four years, he has been reading and studying poetry, especially the works of Pablo Neruda, Alda Merini, and Fernando Pessoa. He also reads and writes poetry in different languages and continues to broaden his literary understanding.

In the context statement, Saverio said, "I lived in Brazil for a short time, and while I was hiking in a forest, I saw butterflies flying from one flower to another. After researching butterflies, I felt they would be the perfect metaphor for betrayal in a love relationship. This poem was my way of combining the love emotions of purity and betrayal within the beauties of nature."


Graciously you land on my petals
Pollinating my veins
Extracting my every essence
With your presence
Gracious and sweet
Colorful and deep
With honey flavored lips we meet

Scared and frazzled
By the winds you’re dazzled
My bright and illustrious petals
Are now Dry, folded, and dreary

Till there is nothing left to surrender
you fly away
A messenger of God’s or a pretender
Towards the sunset
Over the tranquil pink clouds
Fanning me
With the cold winds of your wings
Brighter, healthier, and more gorgeous then ever
You fly away enroute for the next nectar.