Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘James Benger’

Demolition Derby Car by Thomas Reynolds

05_10_1It sits in tall weeds

Like a crushed, jagged brain.

No beat or synapse pulses

Where it sits behind the shed.

All is unnaturally calm the way

Operating rooms are after everything

Has been tried, the surgeon has backed

Away and removed her mask, nurses

Disconnect all life-sustaining devices,

All silent except for the clanking of tools

Being placed on trays and wheeled away.

Soon the patient is lifted onto a gurney

To be awaited by mourners, those for whom

The body is all they have and so they can’t let

It go. Not yet. So now he has wheeled this corpse

Into the waving September grass to await eternity.

Only a few birds have cared to mourn. Tree limbs

Lean down to caress the hollowed-out eyes

Which look out unseeing into darkening prairie,

Where wind and sky collide time after time.


Before a raucous crowd of jays.

~ Thomas Reynolds

Bio: Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013.

Guest Editor James Benger is husband and writer. His work has been featured in Coal City Review, Comma,Splice, Hoarding Words, Kansas City Voices, Kiosk, Periphery, Runaway Pony, Thorny Locust and To the Stars Through Difficulties. His ebooks, Flight 776 and Jack of Diamonds are available from most digital retailers. He lives in the Kansas City area with his wife.

A Place From Which To Wish Upon Distant Satellites by Chris McKinney

When I leave youChris McKinney

I’m happy, ecstatic even

To vanish from the pebbles

I dream are mountains,

And when I do reach those mountains

Flying like Icarus to their tops,

Where I can see an entire new world

I realize I can’t see the place I’ve left.

I spend my days foraging for gems

Among diamonds shining like glass.

I spend my nights among city lights

That blaze like second suns

In comparison to the stars I’ve known.

Sometimes I search for a bed

That happens to be my own.

Soon, all too soon, the magic becomes mundane,

The hyperborean becomes humdrum.

The street dancers with three-feet legs

Become hobnobs on wooden pegs,

And the acrobats become serpents.

Where I had thought myself a green lion eating the sun

I realized I was only eating lies, and vomiting nightlife.

How easy it is to fall in love

With something you can’t comprehend.

So I return home, to the open arms of the familiar

Where I’m met with a me I know, remember, like.

A me that, sometimes, even surprises me –

Because it’s a me that will do it all again,

If only to be that boy again

Wishing on a distant satellite.

~ Chris McKinney

Chris McKinney graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in literature. He works as an IT specialist. Go figure. To the Stars Through Difficulties, the Mind’s Eye 2010, and Coal City Review are just a few of the publications to house his works. When he is not writing he is painting.

Guest Editor James Benger is husband and writer. His work has been featured in Coal City Review, Comma,Splice, Hoarding Words, Kansas City Voices, Kiosk, Periphery, Runaway Pony, Thorny Locust and To the Stars Through Difficulties. His ebooks, Flight 776 and Jack of Diamonds are available from most digital retailers. He lives in the Kansas City area with his wife.

Walks in Suburbia by Sarah Worrel

Sarah Worrelwhispering metal

dead, black mouse with descending fly

gate creaks

crispy sidewalk worms

birds’ continual chorus

mailbox droppings

insect call

construction echoes

cat camouflaged against mulch

stilled snake

dense gray clouds

sudden shower

tennis shoe squelch

waterlogged denim

cold drops pelting skin

half-hearted or absent

hellos

discarded pen

abandoned plastic cups

so much green it’s tasted

tiger lilies repeated

barberry bushes

purple-leafed plum aka sand cherry

showy splendor of hot pink roses

Sarah Worrel graduated from the University of Kansas, where she had an amazing job at the KU Writing Center. Her current employment includes the roles of paraeducator and AVID tutor. Comma, Splice published her poem called meadowlark in Florida. Her short stories have appeared in Coal City Review and James Gunn’s Ad Astra.

James Benger is husband and writer. His work has been featured in Coal City Review, Comma,Splice, Hoarding Words, Kansas City Voices, Kiosk, Periphery, Runaway Pony, Thorny Locust and To the Stars Through Difficulties. His ebooks, Flight 776 and Jack of Diamonds are available from most digital retailers. He lives in the Kansas City area with his wife.

An Autumn Walk by James Benger

Behind the houses

And past the chain-linked fences

With the barking dogs and above-ground pools

There is an infinite row of

Impossibly tall pines

And as you walk between the trunks

Smelling December and feeling January

Under your feet

The sun begins to fade

But as you walk past the pines

You can rest assured the sun is still there

And you will see it again

 

But for now – walk

 

There are more trees than numbers

Many are populated by birds or squirrels

The softness of the fallen needles

Gives way to the candy wrapper sound of brown leaves

It won’t be long until you see the

First miniscule sign that the sun

Is in front of you – somewhere

The white nothingness that the

Light teasingly promises propels you forward

 

Up to this point the terrain has been blissfully timid

But you come upon a valley at least ten feet deep

A small amount of unforgiving cold water

Saunters along at the inverted apex of the ravine

Luckily for you a tree has met the end of

Its life but not its usefulness

And it bridges the gap

Your legs are unsteady but the light ahead

Confirms that you will not fall

And you’re on the other side before you

Are aware you started

 

As the light becomes closer the birds and

Squirrels become fewer and the

Cotton-like pine needles return

To caress your step

 

And at last you reach it

The clearing

The light

Beyond it all – the light

And it is spilling itself on a single immense tree

One still blooming amidst all the

Year-end decay

You walk to the tree and touch its

Bark and a single blossom lands

At your feet

 

And in that instant the tree the sun and

You are the universe

~ James Benger

 

James Benger is husband, writer and student. His work has been featured in Comma,Splice,

Hoarding Words, Kiosk, Runaway Pony and To the Stars Through Difficulties. His ebook, Flight 776

is available from most digital retailers.He lives in the Kansas City area with his wife.

 

Almost a Mile from Home by James Benger

 Nearly a mile from home.2b4ccd45JamesBenger

You had to wade through the tall grass.

There were snakes, but they kept to themselves.

Chiggers were more of a concern.

 

Two cherry trees: one white and one red

Stood like a welcoming city gate.

Perched on the highest stout branch

You could see like a cardinal.

 

On the other side of that wall of leaves,

The row of apple trees.

Red, green, red, crab, red, green.

 

Behind the trees were the massive brambles.

You cut a tunnel with gardening shears.

In the center was a room of sorts.

Furniture made of decomposing logs

Much of them from an apple tree ended

By an electrical storm.

 

The rabbits hid in the accusing

Fingers of the undergrowth

Until the neighborhood dogs discovered

There was shade to be had.

 

The ground was grassless and hard-packed

From the dogs and the wolves and the coyotes

And you.

 

The crows rooted through the fallen fruit.

 

As the daylight folded in on itself

Your eyes adjusted – all day spent in that

Shade distorted the existence of a sun.

 

On the way back, the snakes were more of a worry.

They never bit, but they rattled warnings to

Keep moving.

By the time the moon was fully on the clock

You’d arrive back at the house,

Nearly a mile from home.

~ James Benger

James Benger is husband, writer and student. His work has been featured in Comma,Splice, Hoarding Words, Kiosk, Runaway Pony and To the Stars Through Difficulties. His ebook, Flight 776 is available from most digital retailers.He lives in the Kansas City area with his wife.

 

47. To the Stars Through Difficulty: James Benger

The clouds permeate the desires
Of all those who pass beneath.

There’s an unspoken unpleasantness
When those clouds overtake the plains.

It’s hard to imagine a bright Kansas sun
When the sky looks like undrinkable river water.
And it is just as poisonous.

But perseverance is in the hearts of the meekest.
And today, with those clouds threatening disaster,
Someone will perform a miracle.

– James Benger

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