April is National Poetry Month, so it seems fitting to share the work of a few of our local poets each week.
Richard Stahl was born and raised in Davenport. He graduated from Central High School in 1957 and latyer taught English there for 34 years. His award-winning poems have been published in many literary journals and appear in various anthologies. Mr. Stahl’s books include After the Milk Route (1988), Under the Green Tree Hotel (1996), and Mr. Farnam’s Guests (2004). In 2001, Mr. Stahl was appointed the first Quad-City Poet Laureate, serving until 2003.
With a Mississippi Walking Stick*
This river’s rhythms live
inside my sfot pine
leg, a crooked
branch some backwater pulled
down, nearly drowning its face,
before hte current listed it, peeling
it clean as a cane. This driftwood ran
the channel until it grounded
In my hand
on Davenport’s levee,
but it remembers the bends
and twists and whirlpools
of the river. This stick teases
like the heady fizz
of a Mississippi Highball.
My fingers drink the sweep’s straight
handle again, the hold I need
to work my lungs and shoulders
and river legs. No part of this stick
is straight. Some twists puff
into knots. The bark has been skinned off
for easier handling. As I walk back
to The Green Tree Hotel
ten feet away,
noses down, closing
like a divining rod,
back to the river
and The Hotel
for my next berth.
*From Under the Green Tree Hotel