Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Kevin Rabas’

Song I Dreamed by Leah Sewell

Leah SewellThe week before I lost my way of life

The week when I realized I’d lost you

There was a week I listened only to

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals broken

croons aching out my wide open

car windows in moldy blue night

Slipping moon of when I had you

Morning’s nothing but an empty bag

A bed alive with fleas

Deadline and limp flag

Song like a dream like a dream

~ Leah Sewell

Leah Sewell is an assistant editor at Coconut Poetry, an MFA graduate of the University of Nebraska, and a book designer, poet, and mother. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in [PANK], Midwestern Gothic, Weave Magazine and burntdistrict. Her chapbook, Birth in Storm, was the winner of the 2012 ELJ Publications Chapbook Competition.

Guest editor: Kevin Rabas co-directs the creative writing program at Emporia State and co-edits Flint Hills Review. 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, “For my month, I searched for poems that meditate on “time” in its many musical nuances, such as in times a tune jogged your memory, times the music seemed to transport you in time, times you patted your foot or danced to the music’s groove (time), times the music jump-started your heart (internal time), OR meditations on musical elements (such as 4/4 time vs. 6/8 time OR swung vs. straight, rock 2+4 time).”

 

Don’t Watch Your Watch by Kevin Rabas

 

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.

 

 

Ride on by Kevin Rabas

Ride onKevin Rabas

Only a few Dems in this town, and Susan & Jason

have the bumper stickers to prove it, back of

the Ford Ranger, Kansas Dems, a blue circle.

Every season we gather, eat pizza and fruit salad, share

greens we’ve carted from Lawrence, next town, blue

town–dot–in red rectangle Kansas; here in Emporia, we
were once Progressive; Wm Allen White ran
against the Klan; I remember coal-colored CJ being called to play
with us at the Methodist church, only under-21 bassist in town,
and the tune goes: “Who’s got a robe that’s long and white…
Ride on, Ride on,” and all I can say is, “I think they mean
the Jesus, and hope they don’t mean the others
on horses, with the wicked pointy hats,” and we laugh, but not
because we know, but because we fear; something of those old
nights of fire and tall crosses, nooses, runs into land we now walk,
dirt fed by blood, and those damned knotted trees still stand.

*William Allen White ran for governor in 1924 in an attempt to expose the Klan’s prejudices (The Emporia Gazette).

~ Associate Professor Dr. Kevin Rabas (MFA, Goddard College; PhD, KU) co-directs the creative writing program at Emporia State and edits Flint Hills Review. 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; and Spider Face: stories. He also writes regularly for Jazz Ambassador Magazine (JAM). 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.

~ February’s Guest Editor, Laura Lee Washburn, is the author of the Palanquin Prize chapbook Watching the Contortionists, and March Street Press’s This Good Warm Place, a poetry collection.  She directs the creative writing program at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas.  http://www.pittstate.edu/department/english/

38. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Kevin Rabas

Calvin runs his hand over the car top, closed hood, covered in frost, a stab
at each fingertip. Nineteen, Calvin washes his car evenings, cold or not,
then drives the blacktop suburban strips to school. Weekends, he drives
the long roads, the prairie roads, the roads of wheat, out west. His people had land
that’s now under water, under Lake Wilson, the salt lake, salt aquifer; no water
from that lake in to new crops. Grandma moved to Lucas, left the farm, lives
in town, two blocks from the Garden of Eden: “You know where I live?
I live right next door to the Garden of Eden. Up the way’s Paradise, and you go down
about a half a mile and you end up in Hell Crick.” Her story. Her sons wrap her
in strong arms, stand in wheat, Carhartts kicked up. In wind. Her last year. New wheat.

– Kevin Rabas

22. Kissing Bea on the Prairie

Bea tells me to turn off the road

at a silo in a part of Leoti

she does not know. The prairie grasses

around us move as an ear on a cat would

to listen, the way stalks on sunflowers tilt

to put sun in their seeds and petals.

It is dark–the shade of well water,

and the stars are not ours, but we see them

up there, like sequins on a black dress.

 

Bea takes off her underwear,

and it falls into the heater. I take off

her shirt, and my hands hold her

as if it is my first time, my fingers

like rain that runs over the body

rather than falling upon it.

Her shirt and bra go

to my car hood, and her knee

is at my belt loop, and the car lights come

down that long dirt road and speed by.

Then, the dark Camero backs up,

and we are in our car, too, being chased

into town. All I have known

are the suburbs with their street signs

and traffic lights, and their waxed police cruisers

on nearly every corner, and then

there is Bea, a prairie girl; I’ve known her only five months,

and the land that brought her up: the heather

in autumn, the valleys that hold a little water

at their bases, and the sparse shelter belts that call in the birds.

We beat the other car into town, and it turns,

and vanishes, and we wonder if that was their land–

if they chased us for violence or sport. I rest

my hand on Bea’s thigh, and we quit thinking, quit

speaking, and kiss.

— Kevin Rabas

Kevin Rabas co-directs the creative writing program at Emporia State University. He has two books of poems, Bird’s Horn–and Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner.

5. We Read

At the Olpe Chicken House behind glass there’s a copy

of Ken Ohm’s new book Ducks Across the Moon.

An old woman and her husband cane their way

to the counter, pay with cash, the bills

old and crumbled and green, and ask about the book.

The kid behind the counter, who looks like the town

quarterback, says, “I didn’t write it,” annoyed,

“Heck, I don’t know.” And the old couple walks on,

go home, along the way mentioning books they do

know, and love, and read, and then slump in peace, sleep

on their La-Z-Boys, the tv snow, the books

held in their laps, the reading lamps still on.

– Kevin Rabas

Kevin Rabas co-directs the creative writing program at Emporia State University. He has two books of poems, Bird’s Horn–and Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner.

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