Last request from an Illinois boy
I was born in Urbana on Orchard Street,
The hospital, Carle, was then quite small:
A three-story building of yellow brick,
The first of four brothers, and that was all.
My Mother was Char, my Dad was Bob
away at war, though a Pacifist he.
In ’42, to avoid the Draft,
He joined the SeaBees, the Navy
Guys who built the docks, airfields–
Alaska, even Hawaii.
After the war they lived in town
From house to house, till number three
Was 1306 South Orchard Street.
My happy high school years were there,
My first fast car, my first slow girl…
My friends were from the band or choir,
Although I grew to six foot eight
And stumbled playing basketball.
I started writing poems then:
Love yelps, or sonnets for the school
Assignments Mrs. Hewett gave.
Now decades past, I still will write
My last request in doggerel.
V-mails from Dad to Mom would cite
His love for us in poetry.
So if the cost is not too great,
Send me to die on Orchard Street.
Carle Hospital has grown to eight
Or ten or 12 facilities.
Perhaps they’ll have a room for me
To breathe my last in my home town.
Like poetry, it’s symmetry.
– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, June 29, 2015