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“Gwendolyn Brooks, whose work equals or surpasses that of Whitman and Dickinson in significance, for the record, was born in Topeka in 1917, although she moved to Chicago before she was six months old. Topeka is my hometown, and that of many other poets whose names you’d know; there is no explaining it. The modest city park named for her is at Topeka Boulevard and 37th Street, to your right if you’re heading south out of town.”
Ed Skoog

Gwendolyn Brooks Park, Topeka

They carved the letters yellow,
and painted
the wood around the letters green,
chained a picnic table to the grass
out near where the roof of the dead
mall directs a crack
of sunset to radiate the Burger King sign gold.
Last place open after midnight:
then apartment windows hold
stars and satellites in the cold.
A creek runs like a paper fold
from one corner of park to other,
twenty or thirty blocks from where
she took her first breaths of infancy
in the only city I know of
with the letters for poet
that does not also carry
a port or a point in its name.

Copyright © 2015 by Ed Skoog. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Ed Skoog. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Ed Skoog

Ed Skoog is the author of Rough Day (Copper Canyon Press, 2013). He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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