The Flood Pole and Other Stops on the PLWP Summer Institute Marathon


Once again this year I was honored to be invited to launch the writing marathon that launches the start of our Prairie Lands Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute.  A whole new group of summer scholars came with us on a marathon in June 2018 around Saint Joseph, then gathered together at our favorite lunch spot, Boudreaux’s, to read from our writings for the day.  On the Institute wrap-up marathon, the group even convinced our wonderful server to write and share with us. It was a great triumph of the writing marathon spirit!  I am grateful for my writing group for the day, the awesome 2018 Summer Institute facilitation team: Amy, Jay, and Dana.  After refueling at our beloved Dunkin’, we drove out of town to write at a local landmark that Jay knew about, then we had lunch at a charming local cafe. What a beautiful day of writing and sharing!

10:24 Dunkin’ Donuts20180625_103652

I’m starting to admire Dunkin’ Donuts as the Anti-Starbucks.  Colorful, efficient, tasty, cheap. I find myself contemplating the purchase of their inflatable pool float donut with its cheerful metallic sprinkles inside.  Just because.

I think it is the lack of irony that I adore here.  The lack of pretentiousness. This coffee is for everybody, it seems to be saying.  And, “Yeah, we have pool floats and beach towels with our logo on them. We are unashamed about it all. You love us.  You know you do.  We know you do.  So, get your vanilla creme donut and your cold brew and get over yourself.  Moving on… ”

11:12 The Flood Pole

20180625_110614A stout


Pole stands

at the intersection

of Main Street

and Highway FF

in Agency, Missouri,

Just down the road

from the turn for

Possum Holler Road.

It bears witness,

a guardian of the crossroads,

to at least nine floods

over the last 100 years.

’73, ’47, ’93, ’07, ’93, ’65,20180628_141618

and one more year

I can’t quite read.

Metal bands mark

peak heights for each flood.

Jay writes,

“Maybe this pole measures more

than the depths

of a flooded river.”


11:54 Bracey’s Cafe

20180625_121827The dishtowel behind the cash register says, “Bitch, I AM the secret ingredient.”  We all agree that our lunch spot choice is already panning out in terms of writing inspiration.

One of the cooks passes by our table on her way toward the front door, but pauses when she sees us writing in our notebooks.

“Well, what have we got here?” she asks.

“We’re writers,” I say, quickly.  Then I ask, “Are you ‘Bracy?'”

“Tracy,” she says.  “Of ‘Brett and Tracy.’ So… ‘Bracey’s.'”

“Ah,” we all sigh.  Mystery solved.



One comment

  1. I’ve seen the pole! I forgot that it was at Possum Holler road. I’m sorry, but I think that is the funniest name ever for a a road. I reminds me of my dad giving directions and saying things like “It’s down the road a piece.” Or, “go the McGaughah corner, then take a right at the creek, (pronounced “crick”). Seriously. This reminds me of one of my dreams. I want to be the person who names things like streets, nail polishes, ice cream flavors, etc. I loved that your writing spurred so many of these memories! Thanks!

    Do you know where the flood of 1997 was in relation to other floods? That was the last so-called “hundred year flood” in our area. Any way, I’m really glad that you noticed the pole and took a picture of it. It makes me imagine what the surrounding area looks like.

    I also appreciated the comparison of Starbucks to Dunkin’. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I instantly understood what you meant about the differences between the two places. Starbucks is more of place to sit down and ponder world problems and discuss politics, whereas Dunkin’ seems more a “Hey! How’s it going today?” kind of place.

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