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Barn on a gray day.

"Thank you so much, Dr. Hall. I wanted to tell you how much I like your poem 'To a Father Dying Young.' It's really such a fine poem. I really liked it, and I'm not just being polite."

—Angela Jackson, Illinois Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee.

To a Father, Dying Young

by James Lowell Hall

Inspired by A.E. Houseman


I dreamt of my father last night.

We stand waiting for a table,

in a bustling Italian restaurant.

Aromas of oregano, sage, Chianti

mix with contagious laughter.


The water captain directs servers-

keeps bread baskets filled and tops off wine.

I try to get the maître d’s ear,

find out how long until our large party

can be seated. I look across


the room, where Dad is talking

with someone I don’t know.

The room is loud: I cannot hear.

Stopping his conversation, he smiles,

sage green eyes penetrate mine,

connect in familiar quiet ease.


A checkered table for two opens.

I think I should grab Dad and take it.

The two of us could sit and reminisce,

but we are part of a group too large to seat.

There will be time to catch up later.


The dream ends before we get a table.

I wake, pillow damp, spent, longing.

So many questions never answered.

Washing sleep from my eyes,

in the mirror, Dad’s face looks back at me.


Front cover of "Prairie Roots" by James Lowell Hall.

Prairie Roots is the story of a town, a home, a family, and a legacy. Told with poetic charm and treasured photographs, the story begins in 1912 in the town of Delavan, Illinois, with the courting and marriage of Ray and Marguerite Lillibridge, the author’s grandparents. From that time forward, joys and trials were lived and shared, and then told and retold, becoming memories that form the foundation of a family rooted in the prairie soil of the Midwest. Take time to appreciate the history, dignity, and love within this small-town family. Allow the book’s tenderness to reach deep into your own memories, unearthing your own stories and your foundation. More...


"Prairie Roots is a beautifully written and powerful collection that is grounded in family myth and reality in a deeply captivating way."

—Caitlin Jans, founding editor of Authors Publish Magazine and the co-founder of The Poetry Marathon

"This book sparks such joy! Such depth of heart and richness of story! Prairie Roots is a celebration of love and family, of long marriage, of country wisdom, the intimacies and deep history of small town life. Read these poems and let your heart melt, your smile break out wide."

—Judyth Hill, author of the internationally acclaimed poem, "Wage Peace," and poetry collections Hardwired For Love, and Dazzling Wobble

"Prairie Roots is a vibrant, unforgettable tapestry of time and memory....Prairie Roots is a reminder of the fact that love is never truly lost."

—Daisuke Shen, author of Vague Predictions & Prophecies

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