Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Everyone I meet—maskless  
jogger, plumber, dog groomer,   
coughing man in the dairy aisle—  
I suspect them all.  
  
My blue and white wallpaper,  
round shapes, strangely   
barbed. I’m thinking   
of tearing it down.  
  
Even the New Year’s Ball—  
crystal triangles lit—spiky,   
sparkling, falling  
into empty Times Square.  

Lori Baker Martin, assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University has had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), The Little Balkans Review, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, and The Maine Review. She is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly.  

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.  

Dear You, today was another rain-filled day   
in the pandemic like all rain-filled days   
but as my family said good luck—two words   
   
you sealed inside the talk of self-determined    
folks, worriers, and well-wishers—that message   
was overshadowed by darkening clouds.    
   
Did you hear what those men without masks    
shouted at me throughout Home Depot   
as I did my best to navigate six feet away    
   
with ten-foot two-by-fours? Maybe I should have    
done my best John Wayne response, pilgrim,    
with my mask of cat prints and rainbows    
   
muffling me? Is this another test of patience   
to save lives and you? I am still, here,    
for supplies to build an improvement, a better   
   
home on the range on a land never ceded   
but stolen, even names like yours. Know that  
even I can be moved to grip my circular saw’s thunder.  

Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX ), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press). His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others. Please feel free to connect with him at dennisetzeljr.com.  

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.  

The same day China lands   
a probe on the moon   
the Arecibo Observatory   
crashes in on itself.   
The parallel and opposite   
pulls of aspiration and collapse   
seem exactly apt for this year   
that began with so much   
hope, optimism in everyone   
I knew, a view that a new page   
was turning, a renewed energy   
and purpose suddenly   
shattered and shuttered   
in isolation and uncertainty.   
I should leave it at that, another   
metaphor for a year that is   
already a meme, but I keep   
thinking of Arecibo listening   
long decades, awaiting   
contact, warning us   
of cosmic dangers   
veering close.   
I think of its shattered   
shell, the deaf ear,   
the silence   
from which one wakes   
too late to a storm.  

Amy Sage Webb-Bazais Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emporia State University, where she was named Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor and directs the Donald Reichardt Center for Publishing and Literary Arts. She is managing editor for Bluestem Press and Flint Hills Review. She publishes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, and is author of Your Own Life: Kansas Stories (Woodley Press, 2012).  

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.  

We were always in pieces, but had been  
keeping up the illusion a classroom   
can invent, boxing us sharply together.  
In Greece, people would take a share  
of the whole on their journeys so   
they would know one another again,  
pieces newly joined. I see my classmates   
on a screen and in my mind, I offer   
each a gift, so we might know one another  
at another time, at some other time.  
  
Choose your own portion.  Here  
is a ribbon, green for healing, growth.  
Here is a bright, white-handled knife,   
cutting away the unwanted. Here a dog,   
softly whining and faithful, tender   
as a fawn. One of you sound the skin   
of this bold drum. One of you reach   
for wild violet in the spring grass.  
  
I am circling with light steps  
on this field, so these pieces may join.  
I am circling the squares on the computer   
screen with my fingers as you speak.  
I am circling to help join   
us, whole and unbound.  

Morgan O.H. McCune currently works at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. She is a native Kansan, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and an M.L.S. from Emporia State University (2002). Her poems have been published previously in River Styx.  

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.  

My husband bought me a motorcycle today
with the idea that we can pack our things  
into tidy bundles, rev up motors,  
already having found someone to love,  
and leave the pandemic behind.  
We plan to outrace the upcoming   
hotspot of our present-day existence,  
when we zoom off into a blazing   
saddles' prairie sunset.  

Annie Newcomer teaches poetry classes at the University of Kansas Medical Center's Turning Point—a place for hope and healing for people suffering with chronic health problems. Her North Stars series shares interviews with poets and writers and Annie's own experiences through writing.
  
Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.  
The lead Iditarod musher with 14 sled dogs  
halted for breakfast today in Ruby, Alaska.  
That’s big sports news since the NBA called  
time out, NASCAR stalled, March Madness  
yielded to sanity. Stadiums and cafes, pubs  
and shopping malls stand all but deserted.  
Churches stream Sunday worship performed  
before empty pews. No kids frolic in the park.  
Freezing rain drizzles on greening fescue and  
bowed heads of crocus. My street exudes  
the stillness of a tomb.  
   
In social-distance quarantine I recall an old  
movie in which the remnant of humankind—  
infected by nuclear fallout from World War III  
--expires Down Under. Our Cold War phobia  
was fueled by the final scene of ghost-town  
Melbourne with debris and a banner reading  
“There’s still time, Brother” adrift on an empty  
street. We feared we would end by H-bomb.  
Now we learn we could disappear with  
neither bang nor whimper.  

Linda M. Lewis, professor emerita of Bethany College, earned a PhD in British literature and has published four books of literary criticism (University of Missouri Press). Her recent work, Ensemble (Spartan Press, 2019), is a collection of poems that celebrate woman’s experience and narrate female lives—both famous and infamous. This poem contained an allusion to The Sunday Tertulia, a novel by Lori Marie Carlson. This poem was originally published in The Sea Letter, October, 2018.  

Guest Editor Morgan O.H. McCune currently works at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. She is a native Kansan, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and an M.L.S. from Emporia State University (2002). Her poems have been published previously in River Styx.  

Reach up high, the teacher says. Keep  
your chest up, torso strong. Hearts  
stay open. Don’t forget to breathe.  
   
The TV is on in the background. Nurses  
and doctors masked and gowned  
speak the unspeakable, offer their grief  
   
for all to see, unlike the black bags  
with bodies hidden, piled in trucks  
or stacked in spare rooms.  
   
Lengthen that spine, our teacher says.  
Our eyes are open. Stand tall, arms wide.  
Look up as high as you can. We’re still  
   
breathing. The numbers in black keep ticking  
up. The map is covered with red. Graphs  
fill the screen. The grief pours out  
   
onto empty streets. The TV blares sirens  
and cheers at shift change. Wild animals roam  
silent asphalt. Central Park teems  
   
with hospital tents. Take a deep breath, teacher  
says. Lift your rib cage. Reach up high. Make  
a fist. Give yourself a little hug. Good job.  

Maril Crabtree’s poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently Thorny Locust, Adanna, and Literary Mama. Her book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark received the 2018 Kansas Notable Books award and was a finalist for the AAUW Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award.  

Previously printed in The Orchards Poetry Journal (Winter 2021 issue)

Guest Editor Morgan O.H. McCune currently works at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. She is a native Kansan, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and an M.L.S. from Emporia State University (2002). Her poems have been published previously in River Styx.  

The young man extends  
his thin hand, turns to me  
his grasp tightening  
around my fingers  
nods a thanks  
   
That was four weeks ago  
while hiking near the Mexican  
border in a sky island canyon  
in Arizona  
   
Now, I stay in place  
distance myself from others  
venture only to grocery stores  
pharmacies or take-out restaurants  
Closed signs hang on businesses  
I walk along my neighborhood streets  
careful to move to the opposite side  
when someone approaches  
   
My son texts me, “Meet me outside”  
I sit on the stoop, grateful to look at him  
He stands at the edge of the driveway  
We talk of working from home  
online school for my grandson  
We throw imaginary kisses, give air hugs  
plan for Sunday Family Night on Zoom  
   
But—I keep thinking about the young man  
I didn’t see him at first  
My poles jab into the rocky terrain  
Horses’ hooves from Border Patrol crumble  
the trail, the footing on the steep path unsure  
I pause to adjust to the climbing altitude  
catch my breath  
   
He treks across lush grass in the glade  
to make his way to me   
towering Arizona sycamores framing  
the abrupt rise of the Huachuca Mountains  
   
He is my grandson’s age, fourteen or fifteen  
slight build, a shadow of hair on his upper lip  
dressed in a Nike shirt, jeans and sneakers  
No backpack or coat.  Such contrast to my daypack  
filled with snacks, water, and a picnic lunch   
My hooded sweatshirt and gloves  
keep me warm. He tries to explain something  
I don’t understand   
   
Over and over he gestures, pointing  
ahead of me toward the visitor center  
With his hands drawn into tight fists  
he crosses his wrists as if he wore handcuffs  
I understand  
   
Again and again, he confirms my answer  
I shake my head and answer, “No”  
His shoulders relax; he reaches out  
   
I can still feel the warmth of his hand in mine  
and wonder if he is sheltering in place  

Debbie Theiss (Lee’s Summit, MO) grew up in in the Midwest and finds inspiration in the unfolding art of daily life and nature. She is a member of the Kansas City Writer’s Group and has poems published in I-70 Review, Helen Literary Journal, River & South Review, and others.  

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.  

Icons speak numbers to me:  
1 unread.  One thousand seventy-five  
not filed correctly.  Kayla has changed  
two files.  Antjea changed “poems  
for workshop.”  Chris popped in  
on Microsoft teams.  Terry sends  
a polite text thanking you for video-  
conferencing on her birthday.  2020.
 
Icons came as saints or to saints,  
splinters in the palm.  Fishes  
walking through red mud.  Cats  
dragging rats by their tails.  100  
cats in the backyard.  Island cats,  
un-predatored except by man.  Saint  
Whomever stretched and torn from limb.
  
If the natural object is always  
the adequate symbol, how do I tell you  
of this time, how we spend it hopping  
from screen icon or screen to screen?  
How can you, who I hope never  
lives in this frenetic online, get  
the emotional weight, the mental  
strain?  Or if you are living it now,  
let me say narcissus
  
with orange-rimmed cup, wild  
white and purple violets in the grass  
we already need to cut out behind  
the garage where the wild strawberry  
is leafing.  Lilacs, those Lincoln bushes,  
darkening toward flower.  So much clover  
underfoot as the new heavier Spring  
rains delight the green trefoil.  Every  
day, I look for sun. I see signs in green.  
The narcissus with orange-rimmed corona,  
wild white and purple violets in the grass  
of my own yard, the only place we travel.
  
On the screen some shape or letter below  
speaks 5.  Above and to the right the red 1.  
I think this season will never really end.  

Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the Editor-in-Chief of this website.  She’s the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.  

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.  

Funny how a word we don't want  
 to embody could catch on so fast.  
 Even six feet becomes a punchline  
 as the tailgater continues too close  
 despite what is in front of us.  
 Someone knocks on the front door  
 & I panic. Similar to scrolling  
 down through Facebook, I have to 

 tell myself to stop, to stop.  
 Even its etymology switches  
 between what we don’t want  
 & need, from contagion: con-  
 together with & tangere  
 to touch.  

Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others.  

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.  

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