Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Kevin Rabas’

Lennon and McCartney on Santa Fe Road by Al Ortolani

bio photo 2The boomers return to the roadhouse

to dance to the Beatles. They gyrate through

“Twist and Shout” and “Day Tripper.”

Few manage the floor for more than two

or three songs. They return to their canned beer,

flushed, sucking air like tread-millers

after a cardiac exam. There are moments

in the blue neon when they glimpse each other again,

sweating to an electric guitar, the thump

of the Ludwig, the band superimposed

against a newsreel of missiles—rising

like poems from submarines.

These were the children, hidden below

school desks, arms folded above their heads

in a looping number 9. They dance

hard tonight to the old songs, the highway

through the bean fields winding homeward

between “Let It Be” and “Imagine.”

~ Al Ortolani

Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Word Riot, and the New York Quarterly. He has four books of poetry, The Last Hippie of Camp 50 and Finding the Edge, published by Woodley Press at Washburn University, Wren’s House, published by Coal City Press in Lawrence, Kansas, and Cooking Chili on the Day of the Dead from Aldrich Press in Torrance, California. His fifth book, Waving Mustard in Surrender, will be released by New York Quarterly Books later in 2014. He is on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Writers Place and is an editor with The Little Balkans Review.

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).”

Tempo, Nearly Autumn by Ramona McCallum

McCallum headshot photoI’m lying awake in this life and listening
to sound tell me something beyond
my bedroom window, three flights high.

It’s four in the morning & tree frogs layer
their song in the backyard, along
with crickets and cicadas. This time

of year, something frantic beats
inside of all of us. So much happens
that we don’t really understand. The bedroom
ceiling fan speeds up with a pull of its cord.
The old refrigerator is ready to die but still
insists on whining to the best of its slow
and slightly-chilled ability.

A few minutes ago, I accidentally
toppled a tower of books onto the wooden floor
from their place on the windowsill, in hopes
of glimpsing the meteor shower
everyone spoke of yesterday.

But I saw bats instead. They slid,
silent through the air the way that wisps
of black paper will rise from a fire, curling
like sheets of concert music into shadow,
that the maestro has no further use for.

And as I slide back into bed I hear them
orchestrate their high-pitched chatter, coming,
I figure now, up-side down from the gaps
between the walls of this apartment.

Does it matter, when I moved in here a year ago,
I thought that was the sound of birds,
building a nest on the roof?

~ Ramona McCallum

McCallum is the author of the poetry collection Still Life with Dirty Dishes (2013, Woodey Press) and is in 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.

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).”

Record Skipping in a Lonely Room (or, as my mama says, she loves me but she could be jivin’ too) by Jason Ryberg

Ryberg photo9:17 in the morning,

naked, drunk and bleeding

like Martin Sheen in that scene

from “Apocalypse Now”

(“Saigon… shit, still in Saigon”),

one eye still pasted shut from sleep,

front and back doors wide open,

every light in the house on,

half-eaten pizza from somewhere

I’ve never even heard of,

three-quarter drained handle of rum,

cocaine contrails, twenty-dollar bill

and someone’s Costco card

in full view on the kitchen counter

next to a Valentine’s card from my mother,

David Allen Coe’s “Long Haired Red Neck”

skipping, loud, on the turn-table

for who knows

how long.

~ Jason Ryberg

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).”

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

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