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Poetically Yours Ep. 53 - His Side Of The Story

Laura Kivisto

Poet tells the story of how his parents met based on his father's recollection.

Welcome to Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours highlights the poetry written by northern Illinois poets. This week's segment features Eric Bodwell.

Bodwell is a part-time poet and full-time high school librarian living in the Chicago suburbs. After discovering the challenge of learning how poems work, he started writing them in high school and continued through college. He took a break for about 15 years before picking up his lyrical pen again.

Eric has been published in a few literary journals, including The Main Street Rag and Juniper: A Poetry Journal. He has also been a featured reader at Waterline Writers in Batavia and other local literary events.

Eric is a former member of the Open Sky Poets Writers group. This year, he co-founded the Drink & Draft Poetry Roadshow Workshop, where he is a workshop leader.

As a high school teacher, Eric is the sponsor and coach of the school’s Spoken Word Poetry club and team. Every year, they head into Chicago to compete in the Louder than a Bomb poetry festival. He loves working with high school student poets as they grow as writers and interesting young adults.

Eric’s poetry has a plain-spoken, image-driven style that covers a variety of topics. A few of his favorite poets include Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, Ted Kooser, Billy Collins, Stephen Dunn, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, Gary Soto, Kim Addonizio and many others.

Today he interprets the beginning of his parents' relationship in his poem “The Family Story.”

The way my father tells it, he was somewhere near
New Haven in 1960: the year he finished high school,
the year Kennedy won, and Elvis left the army.

My father, ten months on crutches, after a nosedive
from a ladder, held together with pins and plaster,
stops at his Aunt Betty’s, his favorite as far as aunts go.

His friend Vinny, the neighborhood Frankie Avalon,
twirls car keys, plays the sidekick. They just want to say hello,
they were in the neighborhood, His little cousins’
babysitter opens the door, smiles, says come back later.
She is a blonde angel in cuffed white capris and red bandana halo.

He tells us, “she wouldn’t get out of my head,”
She was a sparking live wire, a short circuit
he couldn’t fix until he called her.

“Why did she say yes”, we know to ask
our daddio straight out of Squaresville.
The answer is always, “it was the crutches”
or “on the phone, she thought I was Vinny.”

My mother smiles from her easy chair,
the only other one who knows how it all went down.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.

Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.