Month: June 2014

saying goodbye to “bessie”

calumet city limits silently fading in the rearview mirror, gustav holtz “the planets” and serge prokofiev’s “concertos” playing on the auto-tranny fm, turning highway miles to grand marais, attending isabella capogrossa’s memorial service at the holy rosary church saturday morning,

bess inherited the superior hotel from her parents, “grumpy” and mabel lundquist, and for many summers she patiently sold penny candy to the young smith children, ted, mike, casey while their father anxiously waiting to check the baseball scores in the “detroit free press” pages,

stopping quickly in munising to take care of the morning mail, the postal clerk still recalled my old mail box and tossing splake mail in drawer 337, while the owner of the shell gas station while filling the tank with low-lead fuel asked if i was still writing those small books, so the quiet poet did indeed leave a memory,

passing through melstrand, silently continuing my odyssey on the paved adams trail, the late spring white trilliums, two sandhill cranes and several deer browsing the roadside grass were part of my traveling thoughts and memories, stopping at the pictured rocks national lakeshore visiting center, picking up some tourist brochures for my writing friends and jikiwe, director of the art center back in calumet,

in grand marais, scribbling several late afternoon postcards at ellen’s café, just making the local last mail sack out, in the evening reading more pages in the karl ove knausgaard “my struggle volume iii,”

up early saturday morning with the sun quickly warming grand marais harbor, making a fast hike to the end of the breakwater, gazing into the dark lake superior depths, then driving out to the sucker river, brushing away clouds of blackflies and mosquitoes, checking the favorite splake trouting waters,

drinking coffee in ruth beaver’s kitchen before leaving for the saturday morning service, the graybeard poet escorting the grand marais grande dame to say goodbye to isabella, the generous capogrossa obituary saying:

“she loved and appreciated the wind in the trees, the water hitting the shore,

the snowflakes that were in the air, and everyone that pushed open the door

of the superior hotel,”

     even in her last year in grand marais, ninety-two year old bessie would push her walker with steady determined steps through the fierce winter snowstorms to the iga grocery store and to get her post office mail,

goodbye dear bess


grand marais

grand marais

superior hotel

superior hotel

grand marais breakwaters

grand marais breakwaters

sucker river

sucker river

pictured rocks wilderness


for many summers i would camp out in remote pictured rocks areas in michigan’s upper peninsula, one summer i wrote my first poems, and later that fall published them in the chapbook “pictured rocks poetry,” the following dvd shows different pictured rocks scenes as i read poems from the “pictured rocks poetry” collection,


grand marais

recently i did a brief history of grand marais, michigan, the following dvd relates to my connection with grand marais, touching on: the superior hotel, breakwater, pickle barrel, sucker river and sportsmans bar, there are scenes showing the old post office with an explanation of postmaster sayre ostrander’s influence on the history of t. kilgore splake



splake poem


the following is a splake poem “final days” that was published in the “presa press” book “splake fishing in america – poems by t. kilgore splake,”



final days


graying wordsmith

retired in grand marais

small lake superior village

tiny furnished room

old superior hotel

once called the pippen

narrow stairway

to second story level

no television distraction

comfortable doublebed

lumpy mattress with memories

cheap st. vinney’s lamp

single-bulb lighting

wall and ceiling cracks

meandering like backwoods trails

bath and toilet

end of the hall

long wait for hot water

basic bardic uniform

ink-stained levis

wood watchcap

wrinkled red socks

down vest on chilly days

sturdy vibram soles

regularly walking village streets

first name “hellos”

meeting local friends

modest desktop library

exley thoreau yates

“a fan’s notes” pages

“walden” and “revolutionary road”

nighttime darkness

visiting pippen ghosts

guestbook welcoming strangers

mapping surveyors

itinerant lumberjacks

lake fisherman hands

school teacher

visiting nurse

salesmen agents

telling interesting stories

small community’s history

isolated during long white winters

first dawn light

watching grand marais

front bay window

west bay waitress

leaving for morning’s work

iga store clerk

bagging groceries

old sayre ostrander

opening post office

pink neon lights

on gas station pumps

in autumn

after leaves are gone

view of breakwater

frothy boiling

stormy superior tides

quiet early hours

poet at corner desk

madly scribbling words

furious contest

with elusive damn lady muse

fleeting moments

rapidly vanishing

finding special magic

words in new poems

soon time coming

to disappear in shadows


the poet’s room by t. kilgore splake

i was extremely pleased to receive the author’s copies of the new splake book the poet’s room from gordon purkis, editor of “shoe music press” in alpharetta, georgia. the book is 78 pages and the price of the book is $7.16. copies may be obtained from either “shoe music press” or ordered from amazon books.

the poet's room

the poet’s room



selection from the book


the following short dvd selection is splake reading the feature poem “and the poem” from the poet’s room.




kudos and comments on the poetry


“hellllllllllllllllllllllloooooo t – many thanks for the latest splake magnum opus! lots of goodies, i especially liked mother’s meds and alone – killer poems, both of them.”

–alan catlin, schenectady, ny


“got the copy of “the poet’s room” and thanks much ! like “tomorrow” best so far, resonates well with me . . . “football career” has that killer last line. you got to nail the ending, as I always say.”

–bob penick, louisville, ky


“here is my poem, indeed! thank you as always for the book.”

 –scot young, “rusty truck” editor


“tk, i can’t thank you enough for sending me a copy of “the poet’s room. i love your words, the sincerity, the lack of pretension, the raw power. honestly tk, your fucking great!”

 –ed markowski, auburn hills, mi

poem from the poet’s room


and the poem

graybeard artist

soon passing over

after several lifetimes

tommy thousand years old

yet in a blink

born only yesterday

shadowy memories

flickering in brain-cells

like brief movie frames

distant places called home

buying houses

battle creek college teaching years

little clear lake

downtown guest avenue

munising upper peninsula

small house on westend

moving to calumet

omphale art gallery loft

before mining row house

ash street tamarack location

present bardic res

occasionally wondering

different beds slept in

apartments here and there

falling in love

marriages kaput

divorcing different wives

gale caryl olga

children now grown

living in distant parts

robin lynn

ted mike casey

henry and heidi

stepson and daughter

serious love affairs

paula and stella

jennifer with daughter Athena

intimacies growing cool

rejecting emotional attachments

instead chasing art

animal pets vanished

three cocker spaniels

all named cinder

farm dog king

carpet eating rufus

siamese cat

present to wife

to postpone having kids

goldfish “bernard”

comstock senior girls gift

living in pickle jar

insouciant “zydeco”

green parrot tattoo

talking in my dreams

university years

chasing bitch goddess degrees

western michigan university

classes and professors

ill-fated ph-d program

east lansing campus

holiday christmases past

family thanksgiving feasts

young boy birthdays

ice cream cake candles

lots of toys

like fading tattoos

cliffs mountain lion

trout and black bear

gone gone gone

finally declaring nada mas

abandoning demon rum

morning hangovers

once giving clarity and vision

now swallowing vitamins

blood pressure meds

blood thinning coumadin pills

too old to run

find a new place

change possibilities

shouldahs couldahs wouldahs

paved highway

destroying pictured rocks

outback wilderness

where one summer

wrote first poem

becoming creative loner

lost in solitude

grizzled old man

remembering past loves

today’s modern women

not understanding artist’s habits

unafraid of dying

margaret and emery

mother and father

escaping small farm poverty

becoming middle-class

successful society positions

now back in soil

under granite “smith” headstone

three rivers cemetery

besides two sisters

catherine and mary

my ashes to fly

off cliffs escarpment heights

scattered across keweenaw peninsula

daily fighting depression

like styron described

his darkness visible pages

boots dug in

steely determination

pushing envelope

contesting elusive muse

writing next poem

taking new photograph

knowing life’s happenings

now only like a dream

quietly disappearing

soon forgotten

feeling warm satisfaction

in splake writing studio

calumet art center

so following

dust unto dust

ashes into ashes

for others

here is my poem