Cornfields, Cottonwoods, Seagulls, and Sermons: Growing Up in Nebraska

Cornfields, Cottonwoods, Seagulls, and Sermons: Growing Up in Nebraska

by Joseph Gascho


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Cornfields, Cottonwoods, Seagulls, and Sermons: Growing Up in Nebraska by Joseph Gascho

How does driving a tractor at age five, irrigating corn, and reading a cartoon book about anatomy in a three-shelf-library one-room country school prepare one to become a physician? In the poems of Cornfields, Cottonwoods, Seagulls, and Sermons, poet-physician Joseph Gascho reflects on such questions.

"In the tradition of Seamus Heaney, these poems trace the arc of a life at once humble and grand—a boy coming of age against the backdrop of a land whose rhythms of work and worship remain touchstones of the man he becomes. Joseph Gascho renders the numinous earthiness of the Nebraska plains and the people who live there in frank, clear-eyed images that make the reader feel she knows the place." —Kimberly R. Myers, Associate Professor of Humanities, English, and Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine

"Regardless of the author’s age, a first book often reveals the source of the poet’s voice, and Joseph Gascho’s memoir in free verse is no exception. These poems trace a profound journey, reckoning both losses and gains that came of his family’s move off a Nebraska farm for the boy’s education. Savor a vanished world returned in these rich narratives of rural America, and meditate on the meanings of place—geographical, social, familial, and economic—migration, and cultural change. —Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Author, Shale Play (2018)

"Sweeping from Nebraska to the East, childhood to maturity, farmsteads to hospital rooms, these poems render the moments, people, and places of Joseph Gascho's life with understated intensity. His lucid, vivid poems hum with curiosity and compassion."

—Jeff Gundy, Author, Abandoned Homeland and Somewhere Near Defiance

The Author: Joseph Gascho, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, is a cardiologist at the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine. He grew up on a farm in Nebraska and moved with his father and mother to Virginia when he was 13. He presently practices medicine, reads echocardiograms, and teaches medical students. Many of his poems arise from his interactions with his patients and his viewing of medical images.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781680270099
Publisher: Cascadia Publishing House
Publication date: 10/30/2017
Series: DreamSeeker Poetry Series , #14
Pages: 134
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.31(d)

Table of Contents

Nebraska 17

District 37 18

He is five now, right?

Spared 21

Unloading the Chicken Cleanings 22

Burning the Trash 23

Lifting Weights 24

Milking the Cow 25

Schoolyard Fight 26

The Gift 27

The Wedding of Hope and Cliff 28

Tornados 29

No Umbrellas in Nebraska 31

Becoming a Man 32

The Ironing Contest 33

Pressure Cooker 35

Banana Bread 36

Money Lessons 37

Blest Be the Tie That Binds 38

Plows 39

Irrigation 40

The Windmill 41

Sandhill Cranes 42

Wooden Gun 44

Driving Limits 45

Passing Out Tracks in Grand Island 46

New White Pickup 47

The Birds and the Bees 48

If the Boy had Stayed 49

The Flashlight 50

Reminiscing About the Chores 51

Sunrises and Sunsets 52

Thoughts on Attending a January Kundalini Yoga Class 53

Jumping 54

Reading the Sunday New York Times 55

The boy sits in the second pew, beaming

Joseph Gascho and Mary Burkey 59

Jacobina Roth and Joe Gascho 60

Alvin Gascho and Cora Irene Kauffman Garber 51

Grandma Garber 62

Grandmother Gascho 63

Grandpa Gascho 65

Uncle Chris 66

Aunt Katie 67

Uncle Joe 68

Aunt Ida 69

Uncle Harry 70

Preacher Man George R. 72

Delmar 74

Sister Hope 76

Brother-in-Law Cliff 77

Alvin 78

His Father’s Spade 79

Watching Father Shave 80

August Afternoon 81

Dad’s Old Vest 82

Doctor Dad 83

If His Dad Had Played Poker 84

Asking Directions of Father 85

Plowing and Disking 86

The Briefcase 87

Dad and van Gogh 88

Van Gogh in Nebraska 89

To His Mother 80

Mother from Minnesota 90

Crash Diet 91

The Skeleton Key 92

“Soaked in Love and Prayer” 93

A dot on a Nebraska map

Cairo 97

Grand Island 98

Wood River 99

Rural Route 3 100

Land Too Level 101

Who Hit Your Car? 102

Ordnance Plant 103

The Hastings Museum 104

Thoughts on Visiting the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia 105

Wood River Mennonite Church Inventory 106

He knows he will be something else

Volunteer Corn 109

Baptism 110

Photographs 111

Hardening of the Arteries 112

Jungle Doctor 113

Shaking Rugs 114

The Sale Barn 115

Here’s to Herman and Charles 116

Watkins Salve 118

Rounds and Chores 119

How We Die 121

The Plowing Poet 123

Quenching the Spirit 124

Rings of years

Shingling the Barn Roof 127

Silos and TV Towers 128

Seagulls in Nebraska 129

Cottonwood Coffin 130

Credits and Acknowledgments 131

The Author 132

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