Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Julieramon.jpgI think it every time I see you
with paper and crayon in hand

As you snap a section of forest green
in your mouth, I wonder if the flavor

matches the color. I question
if it would forever be a part of you

and turn the specks in your eyes
the color of abandoned copper train cars

under the sun. Somehow you always
know what to say without saying a word.

You point to the sky and trace stars
with the tips of your fingers.

~ Julie Ramon

Julie Ramon is an English instructor, specializing in English as a second language, at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Her poems “Making Tamales” and “Making Tortillas” were recently published in the literary food magazine, Graze. She enjoys baking and selling cakes from home on weekends. She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband and son.

Melissa Fite Johnson, a high school English teacher, received her Master’s in English literature from Pittsburg State University in Kansas.  Her poetry has appeared in several publications, including I-70 Review, The Little Balkans Review, The New Verse News, velvet-tail, Inscape Magazine, Cave Region Review, The Invisible Bear, HomeWords: A Project of the Kansas Poet Laureate, Kansas Time + Place, Broadsided Press: 2014 Haiku Year in Review, Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, and To the Stars through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices. In 2015, Little Balkans Press published her first book of poetry, While the Kettle’s On Melissa and her husband, Marc, live in Pittsburg with their dog and several chickens.  (www.melissafitejohnson.com)

Melissa says, “I’m not a mother, but this poem makes me marvel at the private world a parent and child share. I especially love the suggestion that this swallowed crayon bit is now forever a part of the child, and to me this hints at a hope that m

Heavy heat of the day escapes

on stiff winds across the lake.

Wish-laden catfish lines, like sirens,

draw me away from campfire,

wine, and your whispers.

 

You stand ashore alone,

lantern held high as I push off.

While rowing, you fade

to a lighthouse on a bleak coast.

 

My flashlight finally finds

a tenuous streak of limp line.

Grasping for dreams,

line trembles, tightens

and the lake is fighting back,

bouncing the bow of the boat,

spraying my face with froth.

Dark, churning depths stretch

line toward nightmare.

 

Until the catfish is netted.

A wet grin crosses my face

as I remember your light

beckoning my return.

~ Kelly W. Johnston

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, Sport Literate, 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. His work has received two Pushcart Prize nominations.

A creek flows through me,

Down my arms & right

Out my muddy, wet

Fingertips…

Pulsing warm as blood,

Like the memory of song.

I proclaim my firm premise:

Every child, at some point in youth,

Should befriend or be

Befriended by

A creek.

My own former playmate

Still runs in Kansas; shallow,

Stoney & slow…

It curved playfully

Behind the pink-sided rental

Where we lived when I was but

5 years old.

It was there that I first studied

Aquaculture with diligent

Intensity & full

Wonder.

Learning habitats

Of crawdads, turtles & snails;

Observing lifecycles

Of frogs & toads

…from egg to tadpole

To gone…

The creek was alive.

Moss green covered stones

Sprinkled with small freshwater shellfish,

Stirred by outstretched strider bugs

& darting dragonflies.

Brilliant sun flashed

Backs from countless minnows,

Brushed bare toes, half sunk

In rich, slimy mud.

The creek called to me daily,

& I could not resist.

This creek,

Which once curved

My childhood afternoons,

Still remains in my

Bloodstream.

Now, my own daughters

Need a creek to live

Inside them

As friend & teacher

& a venue for few innocent

Crimes,

Offering

Them permission to explore

A world I can no longer

Easy enter,

& time to experience

Innocence which I can now

Scarcely envision.

They need a creek:

Flowing through their minds,

Down their arms & right

Out their muddy, wet

Fingertips.

~ Elizabeth Perdomo

Elizabeth Perdomo has lived and written in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas these past fourteen years, moving to the region from the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. Born in Kansas, and raised both there and in Colorado, she has written poetry works since a young teen. Perdomo also lived in the Southeastern USA for a number of years. Her written pieces reflects on local place and culture, ecology and nature, traditions, spirituality and much more.

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, Sport Literate, 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. His work has received two Pushcart Prize nominations.

imageA couple hours of daylight remained

as we navigated dusty Kiowa County roads.

Our destination: a tree lined, stream-fed fishing lake

with a scatter of pools and ponds.

Rod and reel in hand, I tagged along

or, rather, was led to one small pool in particular.

For bait, leftover corn from the supper table.

At this shade-choked spot nearly blind to the face of a west sun

I baited my hook as instructed and, from experience,

trusted to luck.

But, no time at all had passed when they struck.

Again, again and again. Those carp. Catch. Release.

Catch another. Combative. One broke my line.

Demonstrative as born-again mosquitoes.

~ Robert Cory

Robert Cory: Born in Missouri, Robert Cory was raised, schooled and has worked in Kansas most of his life. Dependably wearing out shoe leather, tires, molars and ego trips. His most recent work has appeared. He’s been writing poetry since age fourteen, plays since 1968.

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, Sport Literate, 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. His work has received two Pushcart Prize nominations.

GGeman 270pxKnowing winter’s clear water

will soon be dulled by summer,

the two of us wade

just a ways down

from the old Brock Bridge.

Advance scouts, we’re alert

for yesterday’s ware.

Abandoned bottles, hubcaps,

and other good junk

wait between last night’s coon

tracks melting in the silt

and today’s sun patting

the river’s cool bottom. Friendly,

the current nudges us farther

than we have been before.

We forget and let April’s path

splash above our knees, ignoring

dense mud and scavenging sand

that sucks at and into

our worn canvas shoes.

We stop at Holler’s Bend,

listen—and hearing only

ourselves, imagine

the sound of trees

stretching and buds splitting.

It’s late. Our mothers

will worry. But we

decide we are men

and are never going home, again.

~ Greg German (Previously Published in Wind, 1987, V.17, # 61)

Greg German was born and raised near Glen Elder, in north central Kansas, where he farmed with his family for many years. He currently lives in Kansas City, Kansas, with his wife Regina and son, Alden. He is a private consultant specializing in technical communication, web site development, free-lance writing and photography. He holds a B.A. degree in English/Creative writing and a B.S. in Education from Kansas State University. Previously, Greg has taught high school English and, creative writing at both the high school and college levels. He also developed and maintains www.kansaspoets.com — a website unique to Kansas Poets. Greg’s poetry and personal essays have appeared in over 50 literary journals across the U.S.

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, Sport Literate, 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. His work has received two Pushcart Prize nominations.

T. SheldonThis act may not seem writing
so much as incision
into the limestone of this place,
where you sit alone in dark pre-morning
static while long-necked turbines
stride the paling edge
of sky, blading the ancient clouds
into white rope while the wheat
or Bluestem –sargassum clasping thought—
crashes upon rocks, themselves
grasping fossils in veins of FlorenceW. Sheldon
chert, words newly tied to the page
waiting until next you breathe,
calling them, wind through leaves.

~ Tyler Sheldon and William Sheldon

Tyler Sheldon is a graduate student in English at Emporia State University. His poems and articles have appeared in Thorny Locust, I-70 Review, Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, and in the anthology To The Stars Through Difficulties (a 2013 Kansas Notable Book). Sheldon is an AWP Intro Journals Award nominee and has been featured on Kansas Public Radio.

William Sheldon lives in Hutchinson, Kansas, where he writes and teaches. His work has appeared widely in little magazines and small press anthologies. He has two books, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley) and Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth), and a chapbook, Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill). He plays bass for the band The Excuses.

HindThe boy at the wheel has lost

his twin to suicide. His sister

sits between us as he barrels up

the narrow chute of old #36

with his brights on. He passes

a second car as I see the hint

of lights over the crest ahead,

and he is talking about guns, the kind

of gun he would choose to kill a man.

And I am certain he will kill us all

in this old truck he bought with his

brother to throw the morning paper.

He swerves back into our lane as

a car blares past, and I thrill

to the breath passing my lips.

~ Steven Hind

Steven is a retired teacher and part-time farmer whose personal experiences over seventy years in Kansas have inspired efforts at self-expression, often taking the form of poetry. His books include, Familiar Ground (Cottonwood), That Trick of Silence (CKS), In a Place with No Map (CKS/Woodley), and The Loose Change of Wonder (CKS/Woodley).

Tyler Sheldon is a graduate student in English at Emporia State University. His poems and articles have appeared in Thorny Locust, I-70 Review, Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, and in the anthology To The Stars Through Difficulties (a 2013 Kansas Notable Book). Sheldon is an AWP Intro Journals Award nominee and has been featured on Kansas Public Radio.

William Sheldon lives in Hutchinson, Kansas, where he writes and teaches. His work has appeared widely in little magazines and small press anthologies. He has two books, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley) and Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth), and a chapbook, Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill). He plays bass for the band The Excuses.

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 472 other followers