Weekly photo challenge: Rare

I took this photo while I was driving down a country road in southeastern Iowa a few weeks ago. I drove by and turned around to take this photo because the mailbox looked so much like the one my dad created on our farm so long ago in northwestern Iowa. I’d never see another like it — ever.

I felt as if my dad was riding along with me at that moment. Like we did when I visited in the last years before he died. 

He’d tell me to drive somewhere, and he’d recall who used to live on that gravel road. And then I’d turn a corner and ask who lived on the next abandoned farm place — only to find him sleeping.

Five years ago: An amazing night in a small Iowa town

Column from 2011

Last weekend Marcus, Iowa, doubled (maybe tripled) in size. A group of Marcus residents worked for a year to plan an all-school reunion, a Marcus family sponsored two bands that played at the end o…

Source: An amazing night in a small Iowa town

Cricket Songs


And what is it
the crickets say
each night when
the wind pushes
the curtains aside?
They announce
as we fall asleep
to their lullaby
and follow us
through our days.

I will be listening
to crickets
when I die.


Sunflower Field


Every summer when I visit Marcus

the last thing I do is walk in the field of sunflowers

south of town.

It reminds me of my comings and goings

and how life goes on.

The grasshoppers will be jumping,

and the dew will drench my sneakers.

I’ll track mud back to the rented car,

and that little bit of Iowa

will travel across the country

with me.




“Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa”


I used to dream a lot of flying.

Not flying, really.

Soaring. Lifting right off the ground.

I could do it whenever I wanted.

Just slip free of the earth

and look down from on high.

Maybe it’s because I grew up here,

where the sky is wide

and there’s a lot of room to soar.

Or maybe it’s because

I never really felt



The wind was always

going somewhere.

Urging me

to come along.


Barbed Wire

IMG_8827 (2)

Every child
who grew up on a farm
in the Midwest
knows barbed wire.
Scooting under, climbing
over fences meant
being snagged
more than once by the sharp,
twisted knots meant
to keep cattle and children
from wandering.