Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

DianePalkaShe rock and rolls through life in a dusty
fuel-efficient car through prairie grass,
cows, wheat, corn, sunflowers.
The naive turtle laughs at prairie tornados
that rock and roll her world.
The doo-wop of her life filled with violin lightning
and piano thunder, now replaced by staccato
of withered leaves that now crush underfoot
scatter in bitter winds.
Her world much older now, yet she feels the same.
Rocking must be more than just a chair.
Care and giver, once two words never used together
drag her into the blue end – cold and deep.
Unable to whirl in the country winds that bound from field
to field, she can’t find sunflowers for all the blue
she struggles to surface
stay afloat.
In her newfound wisdom as a tortoise
she carries them on her back to shelter them.
She plods along the dusty gravel roads in her tiny car
does what she can, not what she wants.
Give her violins, pianos, give her rock and roll
give her doo-wop, let her rock around prairie tornadoes
instead of rocking in a chair
because there isn’t much time left
for sunflowers, thunder or lightning.

Diane Palka is a resident in rural Overbrook. She worked as a secretary/bookkeeper in Lawrence and Kansas City. Diane became interested in poetry as an adult. Now retired, she has turned her attention to writing poetry. She enjoys writing free verse and Japanese forms of poetry, specifically, haiku, senryu, haibun.

- August Guest Editor: William J. Karnowski is the author of seven books of poetry; Pushing the Chain, The Hills of Laclede, Painting the Train, Hardtails and Highways, Catching the Rain, Dispensation, and The Sodhouse Green. He has poetry published in Kansas Voices, The Midwest Quarterly, Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, Kansas Author Club Yearbooks and multiple website locations. Karnowski is the current State President of Kansas Authors Club.

Encore by Roy Beckemeyer

RoyBeckemeyerthe city lights fade behind us
like a second sundown,
a slowly dimming arc
of light born of commerce,
while stars at the edge
of the diminished glow blink,
hopeful of a darkening sky

the sky’s blackness
falls all the way
from the vault of the meridian
to that always receding westward line
of earth and grass -
somewhere there are trees
framing the sky,
but out here things are
unrestrained, wild and arching
and open as your soul

home at last, we stop the car,
get out, let our eyes
go wide – you reach your arms
up and whirl around, never quite
touching those stars,
but I am convinced
your fingers are stirring
the eddies and curls of the Milky Way

the stars glisten, as if the wind
or the wake of your arms
were making them shimmer,
just the way grama grass
comes alive in the breaths
of spring’s quickening

you twirl just as you did
a few hours ago on that sun-bright stage,
but here there is no clapping,
just my breath catching
as I recall that this is where
you first danced, here,
on this prairie stage -
these same stars, once and always
your audience, your footlights,
your first, and constant, inspiration

 

- Roy Beckemeyer edits a scientific journal and writes poetry and finds it curious and satisfying that the two are not mutually exclusive. He is the Vice President of Kansas Authors Club and a member of the Wayward Poets, a small, egalitarian group of Wichita writers who meet weekly to read and write out of a sense of commitment to one another, an effective antidote against writer’s block.

- August Guest Editor: William J. Karnowski is the author of seven books of poetry; Pushing the Chain, The Hills of Laclede, Painting the Train, Hardtails and Highways, Catching the Rain, Dispensation, and The Sodhouse Green. He has poetry published in Kansas Voices, The Midwest Quarterly, Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, Kansas Author Club Yearbooks and multiple website locations. Karnowski is the current State President of Kansas Authors Club.

I know of no one who has livedGregGerman
here. And it has been here forever,
a pivot we cramp machinery around
behind a full-throttled tractor.
The house could have been a corner post
so tight set it made no difference
how taut or in what direction a wire
stretched. The foundation has settled.
Wind has chiseled the excitement
out of the wood, and the sun has left it
grey. Its shingles are receding.
There are no curtains. The front door
is gone, so it must be open. Inside
I mingle with the musty scents eroding
from the crisp millers and mummified mice
hidden behind the layered, pastel paper
wilting from the walls. Children
drift through bedroom doors playing
with antique toys. Screened
by a common farmer face, a man sits
on his kitchen chair. He stares
beyond a woman in a cotton dress
into clouds that might not
be rain. I have done my duty.
And mine are the last boots
to arouse the dusty lull spread
across this cold wood floor.
On the windward side of the house
dad announces there is no better time
than now. I stand back. He lights
a match. Flames lean from windows,
tattered flags at full mast.

—- Previously Published in:
Kansas Quarterly, 1987, V.19, # 1

- Greg German was born and raised near Glen Elder, in north central Kansas, where he farmed with his family for many years. He currently lives in Kansas City, Kansas, with his wife Regina and son, Alden. He is a private consultant specializing in technical communication, web site development, free-lance writing and photography. He holds a B.A. degree in English/Creative writing and a B.S. in Education from Kansas State University. Previously, Greg has taught high school English and, creative writing at both the high school and college levels. He also developed and maintains http://www.kansaspoets.com — a website unique to Kansas Poets. Greg’s poetry and personal essays have appeared in over 50 literary journals across the U.S.

- August Guest Editor: William J. Karnowski is the author of seven books of poetry; Pushing the Chain, The Hills of Laclede, Painting the Train, Hardtails and Highways, Catching the Rain, Dispensation, and The Sodhouse Green. He has poetry published in Kansas Voices, The Midwest Quarterly, Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, Kansas Author Club Yearbooks and multiple website locations. Karnowski is the current State President of Kansas Authors Club.

 

DSCF8835

Planted

This ripping,

This tearing,

This pulling of roots.

 

I have struggled to flourish here in

This dry place

Cursed this sandy soil

Where water rushes away from me and

Wind rushes in.

We gather together in this harsh place

Because we must

Protect each other, nurture each other

Shade each other from the blazing sun.

We eke out a small place where

Water will gather and wind is belayed.

You have lifted your branches above me and

Given me a place to grow.

My roots are strong.

 

They may transplant well

But they will forever sing

The song of these plains.

Jennifer White

Jennifer White was born in Nebraska, but from the age of six has called Kansas home. She started writing in high school, but got serious about it about it after beginning her short-lived teaching career. Jennifer recently moved to Kansas City, where she finds herself longing for the serenity and simplicity of small-town life. Besides writing, Jennifer sings and acts and uses most of her creative energy keeping track of her husband and three boys.

July’s poetry editor Ramona McCallum is the author of the poetry collection Still Life with Dirty Dishes (2013, Woodey Press) and is entering the second year of her MFA studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she is a Durwood Poetry Fellow. Ramona and her husband Brian McCallum, a ceramic sculptor, and their six children are currently founding a nonprofit organization called PowerHouse Universe whose mission is to recognize and encourage the creative abilities of youth by providing opportunities for positive self-expression in the literary, visual and performance arts.

 

 

Michelle Pond (2)

 

Comeback

 

The white daisy

can’t take the heat.

It’s down to one green leaf.

Fall brings relief, and

leads to winter’s sleep.

It sprouts again in spring,

but doesn’t have the

strength to flower.

Needs to build up

a little more power.

One more cycle

and it’s in full bloom.

Living proof of

the will to survive.

Despite its challenges,

it’s going to thrive.

Sometimes, all it takes is

one green leaf and time.

 

Michelle Pond

Michelle Pond is a poet and photographer who likes sports, jazz and art inspired by other art. Since 2001, she has attended and/or volunteered with a bereavement support group; and grief is a recurring theme in her poetry. She has collected some grief poems into a chapbook, I Keep You with Me. Her work also has appeared in Thorny Locust, RustyTruck ezine, and the Salon anthologies, poetry from Kansas City’s longest running open mic. Her visual art pieces that combine poetry and photographs have been exhibited at The Writers Place and PT’s at the Crossroads in Kansas City.

 


July’s poetry editor Ramona McCallum is the author of the poetry collection Still Life with Dirty Dishes (2013, Woodey Press) and is entering the second year of her MFA studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she is a Durwood Poetry Fellow. Ramona and her husband Brian McCallum, a ceramic sculptor, and their six children are currently founding a nonprofit organization called PowerHouse Universe whose mission is to recognize and encourage the creative abilities of youth by providing opportunities for positive self-expression in the literary, visual and performance arts.

 

 

 

Don’t Watch Your Watch                  K BH @ Inner Bean Reading 14Nov2007 009

That July, Liz caught me checking my pocket watch

and tossed my ticking timepiece out her second floor window

into the tiger lilies that burnt orange as Liz’s wild mane hair.

When I went to the window, she kissed me, bit me, said,

“Do you have somewhere else to be?” And, no, I said.

I don’t have anywhere else to be. I just like to know

what time it is. “Forget time,” she said. “Be here.”

And I took to looking at banks and town squares

and to the sun to know what time it was.

 

Kevin Rabas

 

Dr. Kevin Rabas (MFA, Goddard College; PhD, KU) co-directs the creative writing program at Emporia State and edits Flint Hills Review. Rabas writes poetry, plays, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction. He has four books: Bird’s Horn, Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner, Sonny Kenner’s Red Guitar, also a Nelson Poetry Book Award winner, and Spider Face: stories. He writes regularly for Jazz Ambassador Magazine (JAM). Rabas’s plays have been produced across Kansas and in San Diego. His work has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes, and Rabas is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry, the Victor Contoski Poetry Award, the Jerome Johanning Playwriting Award, and the Salina New Voice Award.

 

July’s poetry editor Ramona McCallum is the author of the poetry collection Still Life with Dirty Dishes (2013, Woodey Press) and is entering the second year of her MFA studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she is a Durwood Poetry Fellow. Ramona and her husband Brian McCallum, a ceramic sculptor, and their six children are currently founding a nonprofit organization called PowerHouse Universe whose mission is to recognize and encourage the creative abilities of youth by providing opportunities for positive self-expression in the literary, visual and performance arts.

 

 

Chelsea'swedding

Hating the Sun

 

I can’t remember hating the sun like I do today,

beating us down with its summer scourge.

Hating us. Hurting us.  Killing what we wanted

so much to keep alive.  Pouring drought

into our hearts.

 

I saw a tiny cloud cover the sun yesterday.

A little girl damp at the pool said it looked

like a continent.  The thirty seconds that it spent

hiding the sun held our attention and made it

massive, like childhood or a heart’s journey.

 

My friends, you all have been clouds for me.

Sadly, many of you have passed

a little too far left, failing to shade me.

Others have been consistent tiny reprieves.

Thank you, even if you were only the hope

of a shadow.

 

And to that giant thunderhead out west,

always churning then passing me by, I forgive you.

 

The sun killed the fifty year-old cedar in my yard.

Can a more generous cloud build tomorrow?

 

Linda Lobmeyer

Linda Lobmeyer is an attorney in her hometown of Garden City, Kansas. She graduated Kansas State University where she studied English Literature and Washburn Law School.  In her spare time she writes, deletes, crumples paper and stares out the window.  She also loves to swim at the Garden City Municipal Swimming Pool or “The Big Pool” as the locals call it.

 

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