Rewrite . . . Rewrite . . . Rewrite . . . .

    I wrote in Reimagine: Poems, 1993-2009 that “once I reimagine a notion, I draft notes, research, compose verses, edit, ‘sleep on,’ rewrite, redraft, edit, ‘sleep on,’ rewrite, redraft, edit, ‘sleep on,’ and rewrite continuously. I repeat this cycle in some instances forty or fifty times for years until I am satisfied.”

    Sometimes that involves major revisions, throwing it all out except the idea and rewriting, or changing a line here, a line there; or a tweak here, a tweak there. “Prairie Troubadour” is a case in point. I’ll let you decide how much redrafting I did.


Prairie Troubadour

for Nicholas Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931)


Over prairie fields
and river paths,

he wandered,
the road his home.


From Gulf to Chicago,

New York to Santa Fe,

for bread, he tramped.


For senators and the president,

farmers and scholars, the

homeless on the street, he sang

rhymes of butterflies, cornfields,

children’s verse, and justice.


In his American voice,
his Midwestern speech,

he sang,

          and wandered,


         wandered . . .

a prairie troubadour.
Springfield, IL, 2010