Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Lemons

Tyler Sheldon PhotoAs a baby I’m told I would eat lemons
Grinding pulp between nubby teeth
Spitting seeds to the wind
Or the garden already overgrown with yellow marigolds

Our Schnauzer would eat gummy Payday candy bars
Peanuts in his sharp doggy teeth
While my parents painted the kitchen yellow
The neighbors’ fence become my spot
For cold cold ice cream or small padded books
It led to the faded yellow tetherball out back
Before I knew about its owner’s cheating
His wife’s insanity
And even then it was across the street anyway
In the middle of Oz
So I was safe

The flag-bearing wooden bear kept me safe
On walks around the neighborhood
I would sail my yellow paper ships in the backyard pool
Make vinegar volcanoes
Be a kid because I was good at it
And I liked it that way

- Tyler Sheldon is the Press Manager for Flint Hills Review, and is a Creative Writing student at Emporia State University. His poetry has been published in numerous journals, such as Tulgey Wood, Quivira, Periphery, Thorny Locust, and eleven to seven, and is forthcoming in I-70 Review. The 2012 anthology To The Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices featured his poem “Fall” alongside work by Kansas Poet Laureates Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Denise Low. He has self-published a chapbook, Being (American).

- April’s Guest Editor, Roy Beckemeyer, edits scientific journals and writes poetry and essays. His poems have most recently been accepted by or appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, The North Dakota Quarterly, Straylight, Nebo, Mikrokosmos, Coal City Review, and The Lyric.  He lives in Wichita, Kansas and has degrees from St. Louis University, Wichita State University, and The University of Kansas.

He notes: “In the poem series I have chosen for April, I have  focused on works that define our sense of Time and Place by the people we know, the people we interact with, the people we live with. “

GregGermanIt is August, some late afternoon, and Limestone
and me are idling the back roads, half-gone,
our minds leaned onto a 12-pack of Coors
that sits between us like a best friend. In rhythm
with each beer, we drive deeper into our past,
stare through the hazy windows of our childhood,
or cruise by the abandoned shacks of overheard
stories. Then, just before the last can spins
into the ditch, the cowboy is blessed
with discovery—tells me our ancestors
have been near all along. His Chevy rockets
down the road. My side mirror reflects
the dog, flying in the back, his face streamlined
by the wind, his tongue wet-twisted
to his ears. Dust vortexes across the hot back
of summer, and I am along for the ride.
We stop at the quarry. Limestone gets out slow,
then describes how years ago our grandfather’s
fathers worked here. Explains how someday,
it will be a million. “There ain’t no length to time,”
he lectures. Mystified, the cowboy mumbles
something about Atlantis. Describes how the island
didn’t sink, how the continent of Kansas emerged,
soaked up, flattened out, everything. Surrounded
by fossils, we stand in the pit for what could be ages
listening to the voice of some old ocean. Shuffling
across the pages, Limestone wanders across history.
Rock dust collects on his boots. Briefly, I am abandoned.

- 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.

- April’s Guest Editor, Roy Beckemeyer, edits scientific journals and writes poetry and essays.  His poetry has recently been accepted by or appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Nebo, Mikrokosmos, The North Dakota Quarterly, Straylight, and Coal City Review.  He has lived in Wichita, Kansas for nearly 50 years, and has degrees from St. Louis University, Wichita State University and The University of Kansas.

He notes: “In the poem series I have chosen for April, I have  focused on works that define our sense of Time and Place by the people we know, the people we interact with, the people we live with. “

Winter Witch’s furrowed mud brow relaxes lateRondaMiller

month. Her charcoal hair streams for miles into sluggish

Ogallala Aquifer where she lies under earth’s frozen crust.

 

Thighs, hardened thick as tree trunks, slide open.

Juices bubble within her womb.

 

Hope makes its way in rivulets to hair like follicles.

Plant roots, a tightly gathered loop lassoed by gnarled

fingers, loosen in her grasp. Dirt caked nails

curl black against forearm.

 

Catfish, frozen on creek bottoms, belch;

a bubble of life surface bound.

All quiet as sun rotates, brings direct gaze to deep

recesses, calls all nature components in silent cadence.

 

Wind whipped crevices of Arikaree Breaks

whistle. Winter Witch moans; rolls over.

 

February desolation

lustrating rains of April

neither here nor there…..

 

MAR…deface, disfigure, deform

followed by breathless CH………

~ Ronda Miller

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and t-storms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and a daughter. She is Poetry Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club, and is a Life Coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets.

March’s Guest Editor, Ronda Miller, is Poetry Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club and their District 2 President. Her goal in both positions is to encourage people from all backgrounds and ages to appreciate and write poetry. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with those who have lost someone to homicide, she appreciates the multitude of voices and the healing power of the written and spoken word. Her quote, ‘Poetry is our most natural connection among one another’ best exemplifies her belief in poetry. Her words can be found in Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices, Going Home: Poems from My Life and online in The Shine Journal – The Light Left Behind, Zingara Poet, Kansas Time + Space, and hard copy publications such as The Lawrence Journal World. She authored documentary The 150 Reride of The Pony Express and created poetic forms Loku and Ukol.

 

for FayeBarbaraBooth

Is out there

In here I look at it

Through my west window

I see it each morning

My sweet little aide

Pulls the cord to my louvered blind

My room light flickers

“It’s going to rain,”

She tells me as she plugs in my hearing aid

Do I hear thunder

“Oatmeal for breakfast,” she goes on

She turns back my covers

Drops my feet to the floor

“Saturday”

She names one of the days

On my calendar the middle of the month

She won’t flip the page

That rumble might be thunder

Not TV in the room next door

I look at our town on the other side of

My west window

I wait

My nurse brings my meds

And my ride down the hall

For oatmeal

It’s Saturday

My friend–two doors down–

Lays her paper on my table

Refolded to the front page

Friday

She read it last night, looked at the funnies

Worked the cross-word

“Commissioners say they didn’t

Buy that building downtown

For a bigger museum

For our town”

Our town needs

More room for memories

Out there

We don’t keep them all

In here

Big news for

Our town

Out there

Old Museum’s too small

~ Barbara Booth

Barbara Booth, who has a degree in journalism from Kansas State University, writes “a smattering of stuff wherein the truth lies,” according to information posted on the Kansas Author’s Club website. She has published two books: A Centennial History of Clay Center and Diamond of the Flint Hills, a narrative history of her mother’s family. She also writes feature articles and poetry. Booth has been a member of the Kansas Authors Club since 1979. She served as District 4 president in 1986 and as state president in 1990-91.

March’s Guest Editor, Ronda Miller, is Poetry Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club and their District 2 President. Her goal in both positions is to encourage people from all backgrounds and ages to appreciate and write poetry. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with those who have lost someone to homicide, she appreciates the multitude of voices and the healing power of the written and spoken word. Her quote, ‘Poetry is our most natural connection among one another’ best exemplifies her belief in poetry. Her words can be found in Begin Again 150 Kansas Poems, To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices, Going Home: Poems from My Life and online in The Shine Journal – The Light Left Behind, Zingara Poet, Kansas Time + Space, and hard copy publications such as The Lawrence Journal World. She authored documentary The 150 Reride of The Pony Express and created poetic forms Loku and Ukol.

enjoying the out-of-doors215770_1020568651506_6725248_n

was a bit of a

challenge

so I put on my ears

and nose

my fingers and toes

charged bravely out

to an empty mailbox that

did not want to say ahhh

I was disappointed

until I turned to go

and observed a

single set of tracks

coming toward me

in the snow

what kind of fool

would be out early

this morning

I must be either

terribly

desperate for the news

or tired of looking at fire

I can see a light

ahead

from our kitchen window

you just now up

making toast

~ William J. Karnowski

William J. Karnowski is the author of seven books of poetry; Pushing the Chain, The Hills of Laclede, Painting the Train, Hardtails and Highways, Catching the Rain, Dispensation, and The Sodhouse Green. He has poetry published in Kansas Voices, The Midwest Quarterly, Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, Kansas Author Club Yearbooks and multiple website locations. Karnowski is the current State President of Kansas Authors Club.

Ronda Miller, March’s Guest Editor, is Poetry Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club and their District 2 President. Her goal in both positions is to encourage people from all backgrounds and ages to appreciate and write poetry. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with those who have lost someone to homicide, she appreciates the multitude of voices and the healing power of the written and spoken word. Her quote, ‘Poetry is our most natural connection among one another’ best exemplifies her belief in poetry. Her words can be found in Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices, Going Home: Poems from My Life and online in The Shine Journal – The Light Left Behind, Zingara Poet, Kansas Time + Space, and hard copy publications such as The Lawrence Journal World. She authored documentary The 150 Reride of The Pony Express and created poetic forms Loku and Ukol.

After by Diane Wahto

He says, if you dieDiane Wahto

before I do, I will cancel

the cable, get an antenna,

rabbit ears.

I will move our money

to a credit union

I will put a basket on

my bike, ride

it to the grocery

store, shop daily

for my food,

European style.

She listens, thinks of

the void her absence

will make, the hole in

the world they inhabit,

clawing their way to

get to this place.

She thinks of the

shadow that would fall

on her if he would go

before. Thinks,

but does not say,

does not want to say

such a thing aloud

into the lamp-lit room.

She turns her face

to the dark outside

the window, to the

quarter moon.

~ Diane Wahto

Diane Wahto, a retired Butler Community College English instructor, lives with her husband, and two dogs in Wichita. Her three children and five grandchildren live in Lawrence and Shawnee, Kansas. Recently, her poems “the Conspiracy of Coffee” and “After the Storm” were published in Active Aging.

Ronda Miller, March’s Guest Editor, is Poetry Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club and their District 2 President. Her goal in both positions is to encourage people from all backgrounds and ages to appreciate and write poetry. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with those who have lost someone to homicide, she appreciates the multitude of voices and the healing power of the written and spoken word. Her quote, ‘Poetry is our most natural connection among one another’ best exemplifies her belief in poetry. Her words can be found in Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices, Going Home: Poems from My Life and online in The Shine Journal – The Light Left Behind, Zingara Poet, Kansas Time + Space, and hard copy publications such as The Lawrence Journal World. She authored documentary The 150 Reride of The Pony Express and created poetic forms Loku and Ukol.

RoyBeckemeyerThe old pear tree
was on her side,
root fingers still grasping
the dark, wet earth
they had relied upon
for so many years.

We pulled the starters
of our chain saws,
bared her heartwood,
sent plumes of sawdust
to scent the air – incense
for a funeral.

As I paused at the crotch
where her most massive arm
still curved with aching grace,
I recalled the feeling of bark
rough against my back,
how I sat with my left leg dangled free,
and my right knee bent, foot
braced against that solid arc,
mind adrift on the fresh
intensity of ripe pear flesh.

We inhaled air taut with
the odor of sweet wood.
My dad wiped sweat from
his brow, looked at me,
and said, pointing,
Cut that branch off
right here.”

- Roy Beckemeyer edits a scientific journal and writes poetry and finds it curious and satisfying that the two are not mutually exclusive. He is the Vice President of Kansas Authors Club and a member of the Wayward Poets, a small, egalitarian group of Wichita writers who meet weekly to read and write out of a sense of commitment to one another, an effective antidote against writer’s block.

Ronda Miller, March’s Guest Editor, is Poetry Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club and their District 2 President. Her goal in both positions is to encourage people from all backgrounds and ages to appreciate and write poetry. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with those who have lost someone to homicide, she appreciates the multitude of voices and the healing power of the written and spoken word. Her quote, ‘Poetry is our most natural connection among one another’ best exemplifies her belief in poetry. Her words can be found in Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices, Going Home: Poems from My Life and online in The Shine Journal – The Light Left Behind, Zingara Poet, Kansas Time + Space, and hard copy publications such as The Lawrence Journal World. She authored documentary The 150 Reride of The Pony Express and created poetic forms Loku and Ukol.

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