Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

 

was what the game was called,
the game of catch Dad and I played.
You stand 50 feet away at first

and throw the ball hard as you can
to your partner, your opponent. It’s
a dialectic of quick heat. You need

nerves like wrought iron, nimble
reflexes, a well-padded glove.
We had just argued at dinner,

black clouds flexing in the window.
My hair was too long and Dad
demanded to know what was in
the aromatic baggie
he turned up in my glove box.
It was 1969, and he invested

every ounce of righteous energy
he could muster in firing the ball
at me in the backyard. Tradition

thunked like a sledgehammer
into my mitt; then family,
the American Way. I hurled back

a dorsal-carpel-popping carpe diem,
Happy Hour haze, recreational sex.
At 40 feet he wound up like a man

with too many arms, and sent me
reeling on my heels, the ball a spike
in my blistering palm. So I smoked

the next one at his sweaty temple.
Steady job, Dad’s return sung out,
the webbing of my Jimmy Piersall

mitt snapping back but holding.
Hedonistic hijinx, I slung back.
Eight-to-five, Albert Camus, credit

rating, Mr. Zig Zag, Windsor knot . . .
With only 30 feet between us, Mother
intervened with two deep blue bowls

of chocolate chip ice cream.
We dropped our steaming gloves
in thick clover. It’s nearly dark, she said,

someone could get hurt in this game.

[ “Burnout” first appeared in Atlanta Review, Spring/Summer 2001, and was republished in the books Happy Hour at the Two Keys Tavern (Mid-List Press 2006) and Driving Late to the Party (Woodley Press 2012).]

Jeff Worley, born and raised in Wichita, was the second graduate of the Wichita State MFA program (1975). He is extremely grateful to Bruce Cutler, founder of the program, for his invaluable help with early fledgling poems. Jeff has published 10 collections of poetry, the most recent, A Little Luck, winner of the 2012 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press. Now retired from the University of Kentucky, he and his wife, Linda, split their time between Lexington and their Cave Run Lake cabin.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is President of the Kansas Authors Club. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book.

 

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At the peace poetry reading, we gather

in the crowded coffee house, poets

who have written poems of peace.

We recite our pieces to applause,

nod and take a seat. Mohammed,

there with his dark-haired, dark-

eyed wife, distributes his poems,

written in Urdu and English, speaks

in Urdu, a melodic language, intricate

as the architecture of his homeland,

then turns to English, a language

created to deliver straight-forward

words. Urdu is heard, Mohammed’s

accent still strong, even after years

of living in America. Poems of love,

of joyous parties, of family, of land,

lift us, make us smile. After, we gather

around, talk about the next time, freed

from the darkness outside the windows

of the brightly lit coffee shop.

 

Diane Wahto received an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University in 1985 and has been writing poetry ever since. Her latest publication, “Empty Corners,” is in the spring 2017 issue of Same. She was co-editor of 365 Days, an anthology of the 365 Facebook page poets. She lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Patrick Roche and their dog Annie.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is President of the Kansas Authors Club. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book.

Guthrie addressed the “deportees” by name;
The undocumented are far less blessed.
In shadow and light, they hide, Pride and Shame,
As dead, without lament, headstone, or rest.

They’ve not raised-seal certificates of birth
Or nine-digit cards that voice who they are,
No forms to confirm residence on Earth;
Though here, still irretrievably afar.

It would seem, then, they can be who they choose to,
But they cannot be who they were meant to be.
And if hiding is all that they’re used to,
If safety is invisibility,

How does one incent their civil order
When Heaven resides this side of the border?

 

Thomas Locicero’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Roanoke Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Long Island Quarterly, Jazz Cigarette, Antarctica Journal, Hobart, Ponder Review, vox poetica, Poetry Pacific, Brushfire, Indigo Lit, Saw Palm, Fine Lines, New Thoreau Quarterly, and Birmingham Arts Journal, among others. He resides in Broken Arrow, OK.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is President of the Kansas Authors Club. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book.

robert-l-dean-jr-author-photoAleppo

A man begs us not to step over his family. He wears rags and tears and dust. Behind him a pile of rubble. Perhaps he once lived here. Perhaps also the legs and arms and heads before which he kneels. We do not know. We pass on by.

M10 hospital. We bandage. Stitch. Amputate. Slip, slide on blood, bowels. Don garments of stinking flesh. In a corner, a woman babbles, boy on a litter, eyes gone deaf. Windows shatter. Concrete dances. Barrel bomb. We burrow deeper. Carry wounded. Wounds. Dying. Death. What we carry, we become.

Ahead of us, a torch. Someone whispers: Crawl faster.

Sambisa Forest

When the men speak, it is not Chibok. Maybe Hausa. Arabic. They rip off the abaya, the niqab, the black they make us wear to cover our shame when it suits them, our only concealment, our one refuge, the cold ash of our village, our hearts. They ram into us, thighs banging buttocks. We are 14, 12, 8. Our mounds weep red. Husband, they say, in our language. Before the next one sticks it in.

Helicopters in the monkey-bread trees. Alone in our huts like graves. Blessed Virgin, we whisper: Blessed G.I. Joe. Machine guns. Rockets. Kaboom. Fingers laced, we listen. The hiss of snakes. The swagger of the husbands. What we are left with.

We eat bloody dates. Drink strange-leaved tea. Pledge mubaya’a. Birth their babies. Detonate in crowds of strangers. The husbands say we go to Paradise. And we do.

Juárez

The Dead Women haunt the maquiladoras. Assemble into printers, TVs, cars. Sigh spreadsheets in Wenatchee, dust up Sioux City back roads, number Days of Our Lives in Brooklyn. They tire of trash dumps, sewers, creosote, cactus. Gardens of red crosses.

Mummies grin on morgue slabs. Sons. Uncles. Brothers. Those we ransom two times, three. Fifteen-year-olds in Escalades and Yankees caps collect. Quinceañera bouquets wither. Carnicerías, discotecas fire the night.

Make-shift altars: tequila, Marlboros, the things She craves. Black candles. Mariachis sing: Santa Muerte, Bony Lady, Lady of the Shadows, Lady of the Holy Death. We shoulder grappling hooks, machetes. Wade the river. Shimmer in the moon’s image. Tired. Poor. Huddled. What we are not: wretched.

Stars whisper. We climb. The eyes of gringo guns.

 

Robert L. Dean, Jr. majored in Music Composition at Wichita State University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, and I-70 Review. His chapbook Doors was a finalist in the 2014 Dallas Poets Community contest.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is President of the Kansas Authors Club. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book.

I see him walk between railroad tracks,

black braids sway back and forth,

beads interwoven,

long fringed vest jangles,

entwined stones collide.

 

A dog, black and sleek nudges his leg at ready.

Above his head a metal rod with prongs

looms like a goalpost.

Two hawks perch

stately, poised.

 

Hunter? Wanderer?

 

I scramble to the railroad trestle

keeping him in sight,

grass bites bare legs,

my hand runs along outcropped rock,

traces charred hobo codes

 

left by transient workers

during the Great Depression,

lined drawings, meant to guide

simplistic signs

danger ahead, shelter, food.

 

Now draped across his back

the folded platform.

On his shoulders, the hawks hunker

yellow-banded curved beaks

yellow claws clutch.

 

Shelter taken in the shade

of persimmon trees that line the field’s edge.

His fingers probe the bark

small, square blocks

as if searching for signs.

Note: During the Great Depression, nomadic workers traveled on freight trains to garner work that they could find, not spending too much time in any one town. A unique Hobo Code (hoboglyphics) was developed to communicate and give information about places to camp or find a meal or dangers that lay ahead. In Parsons, Kansas a quilt designed with hobo codes was auctioned during Katy Days in celebration of the strong heritage of freight life in Kansas.

Debbie Theiss is an emerging poet. She won 3rd place in the Japanese Haiku Festival Contest and published poems in the Skinny Journal, Paddle Shots: A River Pretty Anthology, Vol. 2, I-70 Review (September, 2016) and was accepted in Interpretations IV in Columbia, MO. She enjoys nature, bicycling, and gardening.

Guest Editor Denise Low: The University of Nebraska Press published Denise Low’s 2017 memoir The Turtle’s Beating Heart, about her grandfather’s Lenape heritage. Other recent books are A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press 2017), Mélange Block: Poems (Red Mt. Press), Jackalope (short fiction, Red Mt. Press), and Natural Theologies: Essays (The Backwaters Press). Low is former Kansas poet laureate and past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies.

There are more ways to terrorize

than stack bricks on the border higher than Denali.

More sinister ways to banish.

Darth Vader lurks on the screen

and with a flourish of a golden pen

rewrites the narratives of children’s lives.

Lizet, whose name means “beauty” and sounds like love,

composes words that weep her Mamá’s tears,

confesses worries desperate as packed suitcases

waiting by the front door.

“Mamá says if she goes, I go with her.”

~ Rhiannon Ross

Rhiannon Ross teaches youth poetry workshops for In Our Own Words, a Missouri Arts Council-funded program. She serves on the Riverfront Reading Series committee, the Jump Start Art KC board, and as a regional co-coordinator for Poetry Out Loud. She received a 2012 Rocket Grant for community project, Vox Narro.

Guest Editor Denise Low: The University of Nebraska Press published Denise Low’s 2017 memoir The Turtle’s Beating Heart, about her grandfather’s Lenape heritage. Other recent books are A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press 2017), Mélange Block: Poems (Red Mt. Press), Jackalope (short fiction, Red Mt. Press), and Natural Theologies: Essays (The Backwaters Press). Low is former Kansas poet laureate and past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies.

Snowmelt scours the Rockies until the creeks flash.

Gravel and sand wash into Beaver Creek and the Solomon River.

Cows are calving as water sweeps the land.

The jet stream drops from the north like a Cheyenne raid―

Rain slams the high plains, rivers churn,

and spring calves stumble into the drowning snarl

that roars through the Smoky Hills.

Anvil-grey thunderheads rumble the Flint Hills.

 

Thirty million bison roamed the tall grass prairie

before General Sherman’s final solution to the Indian problem―

kill, skin, and sell until the buffalo is exterminated.

They shoot them down on foot, horseback, and from trains:

The hides are stacked, hacked, carcasses left to rot―

to starve out the Pawnee and Osage tribes:

 

Now bison bones still wash into angry creeks,

with mastodon teeth, arrowheads, deer antlers.

The surly boneyard river reminds whose land this was.

Barbed-wire fences bristle and glint in slanting rain,

Angus, Herefords, and yearlings graze on wet bluestem grass.

The drenched bovines munch ancient fodder,

the white settlers keep Sunday clean.

Soon the calfs―fattened under the summer sun―

move to feed lots and holding pens.

When the box chute opens to the kill floor

the cows will know the bison’s fate: kill, skin, sell.

~ Jemshed Khan

Jemshed Khan has published poems in Number One Magazine, Wittenberg Review, #BlackArtMatters (2016), Read Local (2016), Rigorous (2017), NanoText (Medusa’s Laugh Press, 2017). The author is slated for Clockwise Cat, Issue 36 (2017) and I-70 Review

Guest Editor Denise Low: The University of Nebraska Press published Denise Low’s 2017 memoir The Turtle’s Beating Heart, about her grandfather’s Lenape heritage. Other recent books are A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press 2017), Mélange Block: Poems (Red Mt. Press), Jackalope (short fiction, Red Mt. Press), and Natural Theologies: Essays (The Backwaters Press). Low is former Kansas poet laureate and past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies.

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