“Fun” by William Stobb takes place in Riverside Park. The focus of the poem is the Hiawatha statue and the scenery around it. William uses the backdrop of the 1960s to elaborate the controversy surrounding the statue.
Location: 410 East Veterans Memorial Dr.
Hello, this is William Stobb, reading my poem “Fun” for Hear, Here. “Fun” is a meditation on some things I saw on a bike ride at Riverside Park in La Crosse. The poem was originally published in 2015 in the literary journal Jujubes.
I found the Kennedys today
down at Riverside Park: Jack in a v-neck
the color called Seafoam in the crew catalog
throwing a football with the lanky junior
eleven and all legs, juking, beaming
at his living father and laughing
when the President yelled
“cold in here? start the fire!”
which made no sense on such a balmy day.
Every word seems so precious
now that they’ve all gone away.
Strange to find them where the wide river
crotches open to expose the mill
with its decaying factory, long conveyer
and reposed cone of quartzite.
I don’t mean to emphasize crotch
in a crass way. Industrial parks
have positive aesthetic qualities
when seen with some perspective.
Smokestacks provide scale and chart
the sweep of human history
and I don’t mind imagining the distant
giants of industry who’ve built our era:
all the Richards, Teds and Daryls
on such a day piloting their boats
while Camelot’s football wobbles
into the shadow of our large Hiawatha statue:
a Zimmerhakl, Andrew, 1962.
History describes it as a tumultuous era,
the sixties, when justice and peace
might’ve broken free of slogans
and become a kind of reality.
But I think Bugs Bunny was the greater
influence on Zimmerhakl, whose huge pastel Chief
seems most poised to step back into a TV
that might be loaded onto an ACME truck
and driven off a cliff. Aaaa. Poof.
Our Hiawatha, arms crossed with a peace pipe,
high above the paddle wheeler and friendship
garden, makes history fun, as Jack would’ve
wanted for everyone—life-long
fitness and satisfaction in a land beyond
skirmish or treaty, fuel or distribution,
a stretch of bronze in setting sun.