Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Thomas Reynolds’

“Flint Hills Runner” by Thomas Reynolds

05_10_1Flint Hills Runner

I.
All day wind
Sprints through

The grass and never
Gets out of breath.

II.
At night no one to play
Catch with or run

For a pass unless
You count the stars.

III.
At dawn it races
For the hilltop

Before sun leans across
That gray ribbon of creek.

IV.
Who can explain
Something so ancient,

That seeps from the rocks,
And rises from the earth?

V.
The old rancher
Stands at his barn

Watching for what
Chases that old boy.

[

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.

chosen by Dennis Etzel Jr.

Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. His chapbook The Sum of Two Mothers was released by ELJ Publications in 2013, and his work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, DIAGRAM, and others. He is a TALK Scholar and Speaker for the Kansas Humanities Council, and volunteers for the YWCA of Topeka and Midland Hospice. His website is http://www.dennisetzeljr.com.

Dennis says, “This ecopoem connects for me place with nature with human. The space that happens while running is where this poem becomes as testimony for the Flint Hills. The questions of existence are here, as well as the cycle of life in the last stanza. Thank you for this poem, Thomas!”

Running Across Chase County, Kansas by Thomas Reynolds

Starting Line05_10_1

Stretching beneath

The sign with two bullet holes,

 

I gauge the gray sky,

Pulsing veins of darkness.

 

Swimmer

Wind rushes in

To fill space

 

Where sea water once

Raced for shore.

 

Specimen

All afternoon, incredulous

Farmers in trucks

 

Slow to ask if I

Need a ride, son.

 

Flint Hills

At the ridge top

Semis swoop past

 

Honking great blasts

Of pterodactyl breath.

 

Race Official

Wind whistles

A break through

 

Windows of

An abandoned house.

 

Diner Lunch

When I tell the waitress

I’m running across the county,

 

She says she’s running too,

Out the door at five o’clock.

 

Rain Shower

I’m now walking

With my head down

 

Rivulets

Pacing like blood.

 

Freedom

The old bull escaped

From the broken pen

 

Jogs a bit as I pass,

Vanishing into the ravine.

 

Gas Station Window

Plastic bottle under

The outdoor tap,

 

I watch a waterbug dash

Across the mirrored plains.

 

Exhaustion

My breath becomes

Some panting beast

 

Running beside me

Barking into the wind.

 

Town

Suddenly land falls away

To reveal miles ahead

 

A sparse silent line of homes

With a sun shaft sprinting past.

 

County Line

I lean against the sign

For fifteen minutes while

 

Storm clouds inside me

Veer away into the hills.

~ Thomas Reynolds

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 will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2013.

67. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Thomas Reynolds

In my mind, I walk on and on.
Morning sky beckons, gray and frozen.
An arrow of geese points toward where I know.

Already wind stirs in the bones of my chest.
Blood swirls up like crows startled in the corn.

Like flood water, I rise through grass
to the gravel road atop the levee,
course down tire tracks, then pour over the other side.

From the tangle of bramble and dead limbs I leave behind
all which will, if I fail to move, pin and prick me.

– Thomas Reynolds

117. Becoming Pioneers

With the furnace out

And snow in the forecast,

They huddle around the wood stove

And journey into 1897.

 

The surrounding houses dissolve,

Leaving a horizon of white plains.

 

Wind lurks around timber,

Drawn by lantern light,

Howls echoing into ravines.

 

Like a gray horse gaunt with starvation,

The bare oak branch nuzzles the window pane,

Begging for sustenance.

 

How did pioneers stay engaged

On such a night?

 

Could the same collection of stories

Suffice to stem the tide of loneliness?

 

Could imagination surge yet again

To create a new even if wholly fabricated tale?

 

Perhaps contrary to history,

The pioneer’s fortitude was not fully tested

By flood, famine, and deprivation.

 

Only by such a dark night of the soul,

Glancing into the countenance of a spouse

Who has fitted the last puzzle piece

And now stares into your face,

Daring you to be interesting.

– Thomas Reynolds

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.

38. Immigrant Song

Nothing seemed strange

Or bewildering or alien

Besides the wind,

A trace of iron and smoke.

 

For years I felt the motion

Of our voyage in my limbs.

 

Even rolling hills

Mirrored waves

Beneath our ship.

 

When my bones creaked,

It was only rigging

Of sails.

 

A thunder crack

Was the grizzled captain

Calling us below deck.

 

As I beckoned to my children

Swimming in grass,

My voice was a gull

Skimming above water.

 

Then one day I walked

Out of the cabin door

Onto a wide grassy beach.

 

That hill was the ship

Tethered to shore.

The bent oak was the mast.

Cows were shipmates

So grateful for dry land

They lay among rocks

Kissing the earth.

– Thomas Reynolds

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.

 

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