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At Naftzger Park: ‘Sunflower Exclusive’

Dr. Chinyere Grace Okafor, poet, playwright and fiction writer, “is a Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Director of the Center for Women’s Studies and Chair of the Department of Women’s Studies and Religion, Wichita State University.” She has contributed a poem that is featured in the redesigned Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita.

Chase Billingham visited the park and transcribed the poem. He reports: “This is the poem that has been carved into stone pavers in the new Naftzger Park. The poem appears twice in the park. It appears in its entirety in one large slab near Douglas Avenue. And the first few stanzas appear in larger print in stones that line the park’s lawn. I have transcribed the poem exactly as it appears — carved in stone — in the park (including, for example, the repeated use of the word “-nd”).”

Sunflower Exclusive

By Chinyere G. Okafor

Fans make brief stops at Naftzger Park

Salute Clinton Naftzger and Carry Nation

Folks that did their work for this Park

At the heart of our Shocker Nation.

We salute colors and creeds of the globe

Rainbow signs and heart of the Air Capital

Where choral birds and metal birds waltz

Skip and jump to the music of sunflower

Arkansas River constructs the message

The Prairie manufactures gifts of love

Wrapped in sundry waves of grandeur

Acclaimed by all as beloved of our land

Sunflower knows naught the plough

Name and hand that works the prairie

This beauty snores but rises with spring

For now day begins when you wake up

You too, me too, like sleeping black bears

Must wake up and rise up after our winter

And with bold eyes face the blue sun of reality

In the productive -nd laid-back home of liberty

Breezy, windy, witty Wichita

Where prosperity kisses reality

Get-go-confronts the kitchen table

And therapy comforts fragility

Wide country stretches eyes to domain of memory

Where landscape of imagination waters contemplation

Earth, sky, and all deliver top of the line conditions

Boast of twist -nd tornado that torpedo foundation

Not what we have but how we love is what they remember

Lives we touch not the bank account is what they remember

For the ultimate within compels the fellowship marshal

Smile of your hands -nd complete oneness of our circle

Your bloody face and eyes like mine

Fabulously human and whole not digital

With legs that waltz the grace of love

Shall drink from the cup of Wide Country

When summer heat and River fest

Rain, hail, slush and all of winter

Where Santa, Silent Night and Snow

Strive to rouse our snoozing vivacity

Sparrow shall call the bell of liberty

And beckon all to cookout at festival

Where babe, pet and pal shake hands

-Nd celebrate the blue sun of Wichita

Cottonwood canopy spreads its wings

Welcomes the crane and fish crow alike

To halls and even basement of its groves

So is our park with peace and open doors

You may judge my stance as hopeless

The one in some kind of freaky ditch

Know that my time is mine and I rise!

With my Chi or Angel planted by my God

See processions of fish birds in the sky

They do not disturb the pelican parade

Or challenge globe trotting metal birds

For the figure of liberty is clarion of all

Arise fellows of this grumbling fest of life

For our yesterday forever ended last night

Seize our bill of right to the extraordinary

I am special -nd shaped to be exceptional

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