Copyright 2009 by Wanda Sue Parrott & Albert L. Baker

You have read the hype:
What a great place to retire.
Retiree, beware!
Sure, housing is cheap;
one of the best spots to live.
Don't you wonder why?
If full truth were told,
Springfield rightly could be named:

Once that Deed is yours,
you could wind up stuck like me--
going down the drain.
Ask before you buy:
Is this property flood-prone?
Sellers might not tell.
Learn the difference
between Sinkholes and Stinkholes:

bacteria from sewage
thrives in colonies.
Seek and you will find
sinkholes every twelve inches
in Greene County soil.
Nature's drainage holes,
pebble-sized or like cow ponds,
lead to caves and streams.
When sinkholes fill up
from rain fall and water flows,
topsoil becomes pools.

(Because Webmaster Albert L. Baker's original photo [above] of sewer sludge resembled "Abstract No. 18" painted in 1950 by American artist Jackson Pollock, Al tried computer-generated experimentation that transformed his digital slice of real-life art into this abstract he entitled "Planet in Peril.")

Parking lots and streets
act as viaducts in rain,
surrogate storm drains.
Where storm waters swirl,
merging with raw effluent,
sewage spills occur.

Stagnant marshes form.
Sometimes hours or days or weeks
pass before ground dries.
Houses start to smell.
Floorboards weaken, bend and crack.
Settling's taking place.
On hot humid nights,
grounds muddied by raw sewage
smell like steam-cooked shit.

Topsoil can cave in,
causing streets and yards to drop
with no warning signs.
If you're still enthralled
by hype that boasts of cheap housing,

Gnats that breed in swill-filled soil
swarm through wire mesh screens.
Mold invading from below
creeps and crawls through boards.
What you get for buying cheap
could cost you your life.
If you've still found paradise,

Wanda Sue Parrott
(aka Prairie Flower)

Springfield, Missouri

This essay in electronic imagery combines senryu, a derivative of the Japanese haiku form of poetry, with both digital photo and traditional techniques that capture seldom-scoped sides of sewage, sludge and social impact. The copyrighted photos were taken by both Wanda Sue Parrott and Albert L. Baker, webmaster.

Although various schools of haiku exist, the form Wanda Sue Parrott prefers features three untitled lines with a total of 17 syllables. Lines 1 and 3 have five syllables; line 2 has seven syllables. Ideally, line 1 introduces a theme; line 2 illustrates or dramatizes it; line 3 resolves it. Ms. Parrott taught this haiku/senryu format at Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) during the 1990s. She says, “In pure haiku, nature prevails. In senryu, the topic is nature affected by humans, or just human nature.”

The scroll is a “green” sequence poem because it exposes environmental hazards that can and often do exist in urban areas similar to the one that inspired these 17-syllable stanzas. It is also a “red” poem. That is, the “Cherokee Red” cast on Wanda Sue Parrott's left hand was designed by Michael P. Nachtigal, M.D., St. John's Sports Medicine physician, after she broke it while trying to move during the frigid days of winter so the city could take possession of The Place of Weeping Waters. She says:

“I vacated my mold-infested house on 12/31/08 and moved into a clean, dry apartment while waiting for the city to complete the deal, which finally occurred on 2/2/09. My house was on land along an alternate route of the Trail of Tears, where starving travelers on the last leg of their journey to Oklahoma in 1839 replenished their water and supplemented their meager rations of moldy meal with fresh fish from a pond that white men later tried to drain and make into a building site. I have some Chickasaw blood, and write sometimes under the pen name Prairie Flower, but dubbed my cast 'Cherokee Red' to complement the title I gave myself below. You may interpret it literally, literarily or both.
Wanda Sue Parrott
“The Last Indian on the Trail of Tears”
(Left) Wanda Sue Parrott, 33, in ceremonial photo as Honorary Chief of the White Buffalo Tribe while she was a reporter with the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner,1968.

(Right) Wanda Sue Parrott, 73, in symbolic regalia honoring all Native Americans who formerly occupied The Place of Weeping Waters, now known as City of Springfield, Greene County, Missouri, 2008.

* Originally published in "FUNGUS AMUNGUS", a report prepared for Springfieldians Against Stormwater/Sewage (SASS), neighborhood association, 2006.