This Kansas poet laureate project explores “home” in four expanding contexts: from the mobile home of the body, to the house that encloses it, to the land that anchors the house, to the sky that holds it all.

Today, we’re printing a series of longer cinquain sequences that explore the idea of “home.” A number of poets really let their hems out in this project, some of them saying they’ve become “addicted” to the tiny cinquain. (I understand!)

It’s a little like writing on a postage stamp. The American Cinquain is just 22 syllables divided among five lines in this order: 2, 4, 6, 8, and back to 2. In this case, the poet has varied the form a bit.

Trish Reeves of Prairie Village is an award-winning poet with books from BkMk Press and the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. She has received fellowships for her poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and Yaddo, among others, and a Pushcart Prize Special Mention.

The National Institutes of Health considers Reeves’ great-grandfather, Joseph J. Kinyoun, M.D., Ph.D, their founder. His first federal posting was at the U.S. Marine Hospital on Staten Island, New York, and his last was on Angel Island, California, during the bubonic plague outbreak.

Angel Island

one house

for leprosy

two for smallpox, they stood

up the hill from my grandmother’s

new home

brothers

kept alligators

in a bathtub, they ate

each others’ legs if the boys

forgot

across

the country on

Staten Island a mob

burned down the “Quarantine” long ago

back in

California:

parrots shrieked, a monkey

grabbed a riding crop and scared

the child

I tell

these stories of

Grandmother’s life to speak

of the ways of children, and brave

adults

To read past HomeWords columns, visit www.kansashumanities.org.

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