Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Near the East Emma larkspur bind a damp curled place,

late in the evening our skin turning wet brown, sienna.

North tower bells at St. Georges find wind and stop here.

Sand plums grow and laugh at our eyes focused on distance.

Late in the evening our skin turning wet brown, sienna,

in land worn smooth as cellar stairs I follow your rising.

Sand plums grow and laugh at our eyes focused on distance,

forged near posts of honeysuckle, supple, warm and hazy.

In land worn smooth as cellar stairs I follow your rising.

North tower bells at St. Georges find wind and stop here.

Forged near posts of honeysuckle supple, warm and hazy.

Near the East Emma larkspur bind a damp curly place.

~ Scott McCloud

Much thanks to Coleman Barks/Rumi for the “plums laughing at our eyes” line.

Bio: Scott McCloud teaches, farms and writes near Walton, Kansas. His chapbook, Tallgrass Prairie Burn Cycle (2011 Full Metal Faith Press) features prairie, farming, sexuality and prayer as intimates. Market gardens, birding, hunting and fishing are touchstones and a childhood of churchly work ruptures his craft. He blogs at http://originalface.tumblr.com

Guest editor: Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, author or editor of 19 books, and founder of this site.

for Anajholden_faculty

Through the open car window

seven needles in a haystack

BoPEEP-doodle-our-PEOple!

snatched by ear out of the moving

prairie, like you

already fading, passed, gone.

BoPEEP-doodle-our-PEOple!

If I could find it, it would be

points of sunlight glancing

off a brooch so near shades

of gold in these moving

grasses I could scarcely distinguish

it from the grasses. Like you

it is always gone.

BoPEEP-doodle-our-PEOple!

The bird pulled it off like a string

of catches on this flying

trapeze which keeps swinging

back. If birds’ songs simply mean

I’m here! I’m here!

then why a song so baroque?

How many notes did it have?

Which notes were extra?

In the Beatles’ “Blackbird”

you again hear a meadowlark, its song

canned as the slow-motion replay

of a pass-reception on TV:

Love studied into pornography,

Bo-PEEP-diddk-diddk-her-PEEP-hole!

The bird falls off a see-saw,

hesitates, picks itself

back up on the rising board,

completes its song.

It does it again.

I prefer the song that eludes me,

this one which we are passing,

banjo music picked out

(continued, no stanza break)

through wind and distance

already falling behind

gone and not gone.

~ Jonathan HoldenJonathan Holden, the first Poet Laureate of Kansas, is a Professor of English at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. Chosen in 2004, his two year term began July 1, 2005. He’s now retired from teaching at Kansas State University, and he’s the author of many collections of poetry and prose.
Double Trouble for Poetry Month: During Poetry Month, we are featuring a poem weekly from each of Kansas’s poets laureate in addition to our weekly poems.

August’s void of evening breezes

capped a small park gorged with crowds.

Ride lights were glimmering circles,

teasing children with no tickets.

I envied friends certain of their beauty,

practiced in promoting romance.

A dreamer unsure of her dreams,

shy as a colt, afraid of my yearnings,

I pretended apathy toward the boy,

eyes smiling, who stood before me,

Today memory comes in cloud wisps,

but long ago under a luminous sky,

I clearly recall the handsome boy

who held my hand and walked me home.

I still smell the oil in his hair,

and hear the band play “Tenderly.”

~ Myrne Roe

Myrne Roe is a retired editorial writer and syndicated columnist who has been writing poetry for fifteen years. Her poems have been published in local and regional publications including ByLine Magazine, Voices of the Heartland, Words Out of the Flatlands and Kansas Voices. She also has published a chapbook, Ironing Out the Wrinkles

Guest editor: Denise Low, 2nd Kansas Poet Laureate, is author of twenty-five books, most recently Mélange Block (Red Mountain Press, Santa Fe). Low is past president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs board of directors. Cream City Review nominated her fiction for a Pushcart Prize, 2014. She writes articles, blogs, and reviews; and she co-publishes a small press, Mammoth Publications. She teaches private professional workshops as well as classes for Baker U. Her MFA is from W.S.U. and Ph.D. is from K.U. She has British Isles, German, and Delaware Indian heritage. See more: www.deniselow.net http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/denise-low http://deniselow.blogspot.com

IMG_0864The wall of noise dissolves to rain,

a world held in place by a million falling threads.

In the balance, the fur on the coyote’s belly,

worn as leather but marked with a lifetime of fights,

and the lake hungry for new stories to swim with the old.

Lightning angles and wishbones, branches into branches

that mimic what grows or tunnels below.

Scenery unrolls quick-silver–expanses of land

or water, sky and darkness–in the flash that lights up

all the lines of roads and clouds, cedars and shorelines,

before sealing all back together in shifting hues of night.

What seems like the end, again a beginning.

What can’t be said, suddenly pouring down everywhere.

~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, reprinted from Chasing Weather: Tornadoes, Tempests, and Thunderous Skies in Word and Image by Stephen Locke & Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the third poet laureate of Kansas, author of 19 books, and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches.

Double Trouble for Poetry Month: During Poetry Month, we are featuring a poem weekly from each of Kansas’s poets laureate in addition to our weekly poems.

My grandfather is a picture,05_10_1

Boxed in by a solid oak frame,

Staring with inscrutable gaze

From my aunt’s faded flower print.

He is not the imperious patriarch.

He neither intimidates into silence,

Nor beckons with benevolent gaze

This small collection of name-bearers.

How often I sat at the table as a child

Staring at those eyes squinting at the light,

Head cocked as if hearing an inner voice,

One he never seems quite able to place.

Maybe it is our faces he strains to see,

The timber of our voices he leans to hear.

What to make of this new breed of Kansans.

He appears perpetually to withhold judgment.

As judges go, he’s not a gavel beater,

But he’s Kansas shrewd, taking us all in.

In cases involving imposters, you see,

Looks don’t cut it. Nor voices.

Rather some indefinable tilt of the head.

The glacial drift of conversation.

A beckoning of ancient blood.

A quality of silence.

~ 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 was published in 2013.

Guest editor: Denise Low, 2nd Kansas Poet Laureate, is author of twenty-five books, most recently Mélange Block (Red Mountain Press, Santa Fe). Low is past president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs board of directors. Cream City Review nominated her fiction for a Pushcart Prize, 2014. She writes articles, blogs, and reviews; and she co-publishes a small press, Mammoth Publications. She teaches private professional workshops as well as classes for Baker U. Her MFA is from W.S.U. and Ph.D. is from K.U. She has British Isles, German, and Delaware Indian heritage. See more: www.deniselow.net http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/denise-low http://deniselow.blogspot.com

The sun drags worlds behind itWyatt-Townley-Headshot-color

planets at its ankles

it hauls you out of bed

into the kitchen where

spoon by spoon the sun

draws itself through your body

this goes on and on one foot

after another through the usual rooms

while stars are dropping off the map

the sun drags the pen across the page

and out the sides of your eyes

the sky spins your tears

into a poem that falls back

on graves of lovers

and gardens of strangers

the sun without fail

pulls the coat of loneliness over your arms

as you walk in your own footprints

until you reach the place

where we can read these words together

~ Wyatt Townley

from The Afterlives of Trees (Woodley Press)

Wyatt Townley is the fourth Poet Laureate of Kansas. Her work has been read by Garrison Keillor on NPR, featured in Ted Kooser’s syndicated column, and published in journals including The Paris Review, North American Review, and The Yale Review. She has published three books of poems, most recently The Afterlives of Trees, a Kansas Notable Book and winner of the Nelson Award. The confluence of poetry and poetry-in-motion has shaped Wyatt’s life. (www.WyattTownley.com)

Double Trouble for Poetry Month: During Poetry Month, we are featuring a poem weekly from each of Kansas’s poets laureate in addition to our weekly poems.

Genesis by Diane Wahto

Diane WahtoWhen those two people, cold, armored, fortified

against the assaults they had fought and conquered,

when those two faced each other, foundered,

grasped hands to make promises, to forge an accord,

in the almost empty church in front of the preacher

on a Saturday night, in front of her mother, his mother,

his father dead, her father deaf to anyone’s needs

but his own small ones,

when they left the church and went to the small

apartment just down the block that they would call

home until the first baby started to crawl,

when they shared a bed for the first time,

unfamiliar touches, awkward kisses, crossed a line

that she had not crossed before, he making a fine

show of manhood the first time. Then came the sun,

a bright light in the bedroom. They arose, put on

their wedding clothes, and went to church,

as was their habit.

~ Diane Wahto

Diane Wahto has an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University. Her poem, “Someone Is Always Watching,” won the American Academy of Poets award. Recently, her poems “The Conspiracy of Coffee” and “After the Storm” were published in Active Aging. She, her husband, and two dogs live in Wichita, Kansas.

Guest editor: Denise Low, 2nd Kansas Poet Laureate, is author of twenty-five books, most recently Mélange Block (Red Mountain Press, Santa Fe). Low is past president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs board of directors. Cream City Review nominated her fiction for a Pushcart Prize, 2014. She writes articles, blogs, and reviews; and she co-publishes a small press, Mammoth Publications. She teaches private professional workshops as well as classes for Baker U. Her MFA is from W.S.U. and Ph.D. is from K.U. She has British Isles, German, and Delaware Indian heritage. See more: www.deniselow.net http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/denise-low http://deniselow.blogspot.com

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