Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

ClaudiaConsolidation closed rural township schools,
Brought the Shaw boys to town.
Swaggering down locker lined halls,
Wearing button down Madras and smelling of Brute,
Their flushed, sun freckled faces
Tossed flirty smiles at glancing girls
Like horseshoes shooting for a ringer.

Muscled thighs squatted under football pads
Before skillful sprints took down half backs
And linemen in late summer practices
While wiry arms grappled teammates
Easily, like cottonwood and hedge pieces
Heaved into cords near a farmhouse.

Once afternoon buses rolled them home again,
The young studs threw hay off pickup trucks,
Cultivated standing soybeans,
Checked bulls fenced on a back forty,
Plowed up Osage arrowheads and
Pottery shards hiding in wheat stubble
While riding red tractor stallions
Across Neosho River bottom dirt.
Shaw boys returned to actual life
On the Big Muddy–
Just like before consolidation.

~Claudia Mundell grew up in Kansas with work life in Missouri. She has memories from each state that work their way into fiction and poetry. Since retiring, she writes for pleasure—and maybe for profit someday. Her work appears in MidRivers Review, Yellow Medicine Review, Rosebud, TEA, Oklahoma Review, and several anthologies.

~February’s Guest Editor, Laura Lee Washburn directs the Creative Writing program at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas which offers undergraduate and graduate emphases in creative writing. She is the author of the Palanquin Prize chapbook Watching the Contortionists, and March Street Press’s This Good Warm Place. You can find her work in journals such as The Journal, The Sun, Valparaiso Poetry Review,, and at The Broadsided Press website.

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Comments on: "Boys from Shaw, Kansas by Claudia Mundell" (12)

  1. What a lovely poem. It is so visual and evocative. I love it. Great job, Claudia Mundell.

  2. There are so many refreshing images in this poem. “Like horseshoes shooting for a ringer” is an incredible line. Those boys from Shaw would make any young girl’s heart patter. Claudia Mundell brought those Shaw boys to life right on the page. Excellent!

  3. Shirley Pace said:

    Claudia, your words are always so much fun to read and seem to bring back memories of a different time I’ve experienced.

  4. Linda Weidert said:

    Claudia, I remember those boys from Shaw and you hit a dead ringer with this one. Congrats!

  5. “Swaggering down locker lined halls, Wearing button down Madras and smelling of Brute,
    Their flushed, sun freckled faces Tossed flirty smiles at glancing girls Like horseshoes shooting for a ringer.” You had me hooked right off the bat with these lines—great poem with a lot of sensory input. I never knew the Shaw boys, but I knew some boy just like them. :)

  6. Becky Lewellen Povich said:

    I’ve left two comments and neither one is showing!

  7. Becky Lewellen Povich said:

    Ah Ha! It worked when I didn’t leave my website address. Okay…third time’s the charm. I only wish I’d saved a copy of what I wrote! Ok. Short Version: Claudia writes amazing poetry and I particularly loved the lines

    “Swaggering down locker lined halls,
    Wearing button down Madras
    and smelling of Brute”

    Oh yeah! The scent of Brute intoxicated many a gal in the 60s and 70s and I was definitely one of them! :)

    Wonderful writing, Claudia!

  8. Becky Lewellen Povich said:

    Hey Lisa….you and I are still sharing …Serendipity! Send out more blissful karma! :)

  9. Oh my. This is incredibily evocative. I can see it, I can smell it, I can feel it. And, despite the fact that I always loathed Brut, back when it was the scent du jour and the hallways were marinated in it, I loved your poem. Megathanks.

  10. What a beautiful poem, Claudia. I immediately was hooked by the lines: Swaggering down locker line halls wearing button down Madras and smelling of Brute. While I don’t know what “Madras” are (imagine they’re designer shirts or chinos) I can relate to the smell of the eighties’ aftershave! I also don’t know much about American youth apart what I’ve seen on telly, but your words describe the sportswear, the game and the farm work so well, I felt I was actually living it. Great!

  11. So happy to read this poem by Claudia. She is a multi-talented writer, that’s for sure! Susan

  12. Reblogged this on Tea and Trivia and commented:
    Lets ride that carpet back to Kansas!

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