The Train to Will Rogers

willToday is the birthday of one of the greatest Okies who ever lived. Will Rogers, who was born Nov. 4, 1879, said, “It’s great to be great, but it’s greater to be human.”

In honor of Will, here is a poem that I wrote many years ago. It is based on a memory my gangy told me about when she would ride the train from Locust Grove to Tulsa to see a movie or to go shopping.


They were fifteen and smoked Lucky Strikes
on the train to Tulsa. Both wore their best dress.
Montie Jean’s was blue taffeta with lace
crocheted along the collar. She had to stand
or stroll to keep it from creasing at her hips.
She held Ann’s arm and they squeezed their heads out
one window and shouted into the spring
day at the flitting bright spots of bluebirds
and young men in the fields, checking the soil
to see if the seeds could be planted yet.
They waved to the men, and their smart curls held
in the wind and in the hot, cramped theater
where Will Rogers lassoed both their hearts and
Montie Jean, laughing, swallowed her mint gum.

–Shaun Perkins



193rd-Admiral 003193rd E. Ave. & Admiral
5:45 p.m., Monday, Jan. 20, 2014

Route 66 feeds into Tulsa here, County Line
Road  to some, where rural exhausts the city,
A passive crossroad, nodding its head
In the early evening, one block south
Of the radiator rising into the sky, round off/on
Button circled in red next to the yellow M,
American monograms so familiar we have thrown
Them into trunks we no longer open. Continue reading “Intersection”



Ed Dwight sculpture
Ed Dwight sculpture

Reconcile: from the Latin reconciliare (to bring together again), from re (again) + conciliare (to make friendly, conciliate)

Dead grasses hide the cityscape.
Death becomes life becomes
A continual process we forget
because we are all about now,
all about the waters poured
into us from birth, our own water
no longer the sea that shapes us. Continue reading “Reconciliation”


On the Web & Coming to an NPR Station Near You

PocketPoemThe radio show State of the ReUnion visited the museum back in August as part of a story about Tulsa. Listen to their story about us (it’s about 4 minutes) and watch the slide show of photos taken during their visit. You can also listen to the whole show about Tulsa.  Thanks, Al and Delaney from State of the ReUnion.

The SOTR shows are all on its website, but they are also picked up by NPR stations across the country.

Go to SOTR’s website and listen to more of their stories from this season and past seasons. They are wonderful works of storytelling, listening, witness and documentation.

State of the ReUnion website: Tulsa (with ROMP) story




Not Meaning

Oaks-CW 021The public radio show State of the ReUnion will be at our museum this Friday, Aug. 17, to interview me and others as part of a community story about Tulsa and surrounding areas. Since this show is not in our local NPR station line-up, I had not listened to it, but on the show’s website, you can hear all of its shows, plus see photos from the interviews.

 I wonder what I will say . . .

 I wonder where my poetry will be . . .

 I wonder what the other people they interview will say . . .

 I wonder where their poetry will be . . . Continue reading “Not Meaning”