Moving to the Boonies
by Howard Richard Debs

When I was eleven or so
We moved to the boonies, the
edge of civilization where J.C.
lost his shoes some said;
eventually it all became just
another part of the amalgam
that is metro Chicago,
grown as if from vines, each
intertwines with the rooted heart of town
so when you drive around on a street
you know it just seems now
only stoplights signal
the change from place to place;
but back then we were pioneers
living on subverted farmland sold
for a pot of gold to developers who
promised paradise to those who made
the trek to trade the advertised woes of city life
for celebrated suburban tranquility.

So in the early evening, if the weather
was right, and the mosquitoes weren’t
ready to bite, I wandered out to the backyard
and lay down in the grass, which I may
have mowed earlier in the day
and because we were a ways away
from the city lights, the sky lit up with
stars, and the fireflies were there as well
and you almost couldn’t tell which was which
with so many of each in sight
and the new-mown grass smell
was sweet and lying there
I felt anything was possible.

SOURCE: This poem, with a different beginning two lines, was previously published in Blue Bonnet Review as “I Don’t Look Up At The Sky Anymore.”

AUTHOR’S IMAGE CAPTION: An early map that predates the official incorporation of the Village of Morton Grove, it notes: “Being well drained and easily reached, it is a healthy & desirable location.”


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Like so many, my family abandoned the city for what we thought was nirvana. In 1950 the population of this little corner of the world was just a bit over 3,900. By 1960, almost 21,000 souls inhabited the place. The area’s claim to fame, not then but now, is its proximity to one of the first McDonald’s Drive-ins —  The McDonald’s #1 Store Museum is housed in a replica of this icon of Americana opened in April 1955.

PHOTO: The author as a teen in the ‘burbs.


Howard Richard Debs 
received a University of Colorado Poetry Prize at age 19. After spending the past 50 years in the field of communications, with recognitions including a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Educational Press Association of America, he resumed his creative pursuits. Finalist and recipient 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards, his work has appeared recently internationally in numerous publications, including Yellow Chair Review, Silver Birch Press, Scarlet Leaf Review, Dime Show Review, the Clear Poetry 2015 Anthology;  his essay, “The Poetry of Bearing Witness,” was featured in On Being On The Blog, and  his photography in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor.