Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

for Christian Clevenger

 

milkman i wouldn’t worry too much

about the lizards in the couch in my garage

 

just think about your future prom date

wiggling all over your body

 

close your eyes

turn off the lights

 

& call it young love.

 

 

 

John Dorsey is the author of several collections of poetry, including Tombstone Factory (Epic Rites Press), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press), Being the Fire (Tangerine Press) Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Press), and Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press).

 

 

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.





Fold a map of the heavens in two.

           Find vortex of the Milky Way at midpoint.

The Zodiac meets at equinoxes Aries and Libra—

           Ram tips the Balance.

           At solstice points

                      Devil-Goat distances from Cancer the Crab.

Comets shoot across orbits. And stars:

           Babylonian constellations chase Mayan jungle animals.

           Rayed Peruvian Suns wander Norway.

Pray to gods of gravity to unfold the star map,

           to smoothe creases over a broken sky.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, won Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light: Poems. Other books are Turtle’s Beating Heart, memoir (U. of Nebraska Press)and Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan). She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and other recognition. She teaches in Baker University’s MLA program.

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Heavy rains for the better part of twenty four hours.
The river rises, water overflowing its borders.

Thunder fills everyone standing with dread, but lightning
cracks the air, opens us to all the sky’s murderous powers.

Beside a propane tank behind my studio, at the edge
of an overgrown gravel drive, sway black-eyed Susans and lacy wildflowers.

Strong black coffee punctuates overcast mornings.
Cigarettes are good, too, but I don’t smoke those anymore.

Last week, chatted with an old and dear friend who’s writing a book
on “The History of Reading” that I want to devour.

He told me it’s cancer. He told me the executor of his will
will send me his lifetime’s book collection of analysis and verse.

I do not want my friend to die and neither do I want to end.
I am exhausted from saying goodbye, yet here we are.

shawn pavey

Shawn Pavey is the author of Talking to Shadows (2008, Main Street Rag Press), Nobody Steals the Towels from a Motel 6 (2015, Spartan Press), and Survival Tips for the Pending Apocalypse (Spartan Press, 2019). He is a Co-founder and former Associate Editor of The Main Street Rag Literary Journal, and a former board member and officer of The Writers Place, a Kansas City-based literary non-profit.

~

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

There are no judges who weigh

grief against grief,

no trophies for the heaviest burden,

no ribbons for the most deserving despair.

Do not compare.

You must pull

yourself out of the swamp

by your own hair,

declare yourself healed.

There will be no spectators

applauding at the finish line,

no paparazzi snapping,

no journalists waiting

for an interview –

only you

will know

that you’ve made it,

with nothing to show

than your heart still beating.

Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri where she teaches physics and hikes the Ozarks. She is the author of Porous Land (Spartan Press, 2019) and The Eden of Perhaps (Spartan Press, 2020), and her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines. This poem was originally published in Mad Swirl, 2019.

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

What did she see

in my hands

upturned to heaven?

Perhaps bats rising

from my palms, swarms

winging into the night.

In the glare

of my smartphone

I Google death

stare at a picture

of an infected Princess

off the coast of Cali.

In the cradle of my hand:

maps of the earth,

red circles rising.

I walk to the sink,

scrub with soap, wash

until water runs clear.

Isolation

I used to cross the street

from my office to see Dad.

We munched on samosas

and forkfuls of biryani.

Sipped chai

and talked Dow Jones.

Now a phone call is all.

“What did you just say?”

I raise my voice, enunciate,

but he still mistakes me

for my brother.

“Oh fine,” he replies,

and then jumbles English

and Urdu

into nonsense.

Once a week I set

a grocery sack

of canned soups, oatmeal,

oranges, bananas, milk

outside his door:

ring the door bell

and head for the car.



Jemshed Khan lives in Kansas City and has published in Heartland 150, I-70 Review, Chiron Review and Coal City Review.

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

I’ve pulled up the mint by the roots

that was crowding the iris.  I’ve pulled

up the oregano down to its roots, the oregano

that crowds the iris, the chives,

and the lily.  The basement has water

 

in places I’ve rarely seen, rivulets

blown by high-powered fans.  The sump

at least is working, dehumidifier

filling, too.  Did you know the shop vac spits

like a squirt gun when near full?

 

The dog’s paws are wet when we come into the house.

The back stairs are dirty and damp with our mess.

The oregano and the mint are littering the yard.

In Texas hill country, in Oklahoma, too,

the creeks are overflowed, the lake past

its spillway, fourth time in this history.

 

They say the scent of grass or mint

when cut or pulled is screaming, is warning

the other grass and mints nearby.  The air

is full of mint.  The air is full of oregano.

 

The basement is full of water, and the

damp will sound its destruction in dank

and rot and gathering molds until

we suffer the heat and the stink and wilt

of the evercoming unbelievable summer.

~ Laura Lee Washburn

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 as TheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso ReviewHarbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.

August Co-Editor and Past Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019) Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks and chairs the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. He has twelve books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s and Liberal Arts & Sciences Awards for Research and Creativity, and he is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry.

August Co-Editor Linzi Garcia can be found frolicking through fields, cemeteries, and bars across the states, gathering poetry along the way. She recently received her MA in English at Emporia State University, where she served as the assistant to Former Poet Laureate of Kansas Kevin Rabas and to Bluestem Press. Her first poetry collection, Thank You was published by Spartan Press (2018), and her co-written chapbook Live a Great Story was published by Analog Submission Press (2019). She is always looking to invest time in new places where she can absorb new perspectives.

The last time I bit my brother,
he was nine. I was six. I don’t know why
my furious teeth broke his unsuspecting skin,
but to my disgust, he cried. I reasoned
that he was just nine, that boys cry. But
so unbecoming—loud wails, puffy
eyes—I never bit him again.
He made me cry when I was 16, saying
girls couldn’t drive—couldn’t park
straight, got lost all the time. I clenched
my furious teeth. I bit through my own lip.
I had to learn that when he calls me ‘Sis’
he means, ‘I love you.’ Why
must his ownership be his love?
Once, he pedaled furiously to the corner
house that sent me home crying
in hot anger, biting my tongue.
What did he do
to the boys there? Hit them,
maybe. That’s what boys do
to show they love what’s theirs.

 

Katelyn Roth graduated from Pittsburg State University with her Master’s in poetry. Her work has previously appeared online at Silver Birch Press and at Heartland: Poems of Love, Resistance, and Solidarity. Currently, she lives, works, and writes in Kansas City.

August Co-Editor and Past Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019) Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks and chairs the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. He has twelve books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s and Liberal Arts & Sciences Awards for Research and Creativity, and he is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry. 

August Co-Editor Linzi Garcia can be found frolicking through fields, cemeteries, and bars across the states, gathering poetry along the way. She recently received her MA in English at Emporia State University, where she served as the assistant to Former Poet Laureate of Kansas Kevin Rabas and to Bluestem Press. Her first poetry collection, Thank You was published by Spartan Press (2018), and her co-written chapbook Live a Great Story was published by Analog Submission Press (2019). She is always looking to invest time in new places where she can absorb new perspectives

When I picture Alan, it’s with his toes outlined
in silky white sand, stepping into a frothy wave,
just as a slice of sunlight welcomed him
to take one more step. His mom bracing herself
against that same wave. And when she looked again,
Alan was gone. That was all. Just gone. Lost
where eyes cannot distinguish ocean from sky,
From a shore a world away from
the sea of Kansas wheat fields.

That summer after Padre Island
That summer of undertow and loss
we remembered the teenager who
entered seamlessly into our neighbor kid games:
Red Rover, Green Light Red Light, New Orleans
A pale cowlick resisting the order
of his freshly combed hair.
We remembered how he
lit the grassy summer nights.
Strolled easily when Red Rover called him over.

Dawne Leiker is a former journalist, now working in academia. Her news/feature stories have appeared in The Hays Daily News, Lawrence Journal World, and several online publications. Her poetry and short stories have garnered awards in regional and statewide literary competitions. Ms. Leiker’s fiction and poetry often are influenced by her past news story interviews, as she develops and re-imagines fictional characters and situations loosely based on local individuals and events.

August Co-Editor and Past Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019) Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks and chairs the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. He has twelve books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s and Liberal Arts & Sciences Awards for Research and Creativity, and he is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry. 

August Co-Editor Linzi Garcia can be found frolicking through fields, cemeteries, and bars across the states, gathering poetry along the way. She recently received her MA in English at Emporia State University, where she served as the assistant to Former Poet Laureate of Kansas Kevin Rabas and to Bluestem Press. Her first poetry collection, Thank You was published by Spartan Press (2018), and her co-written chapbook Live a Great Story was published by Analog Submission Press (2019). She is always looking to invest time in new places where she can absorb new perspectives.

She’s upstairs and he’s down below
when his hammering begins.
She goes to see 
while the staircase sways
and the mother fox in the spare room
growls over her kits.

Down the hall, the windows 
are open, the curtains flapping, 
spread wide, like sails. 

In the parlor, he’s nailing her best dress 
to the wall, the red one with laces,
and it dances like she did one summer
on the lawn. She remembers
the revolving stars 
and the watchful moon, her power. 

He is heavy as granite, 
eyes like blue marbles,
mouth a curved blade, hammer
hand still raised.

She goes away again.
The mother fox hums, the staircase sways,
out of these doors is an ocean.

Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s 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. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin has been awarded for her work in The Cincinnati Review and Kansas Voices.  She is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.

August Co-Editor and Past Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019) Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks and chairs the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. He has twelve books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s and Liberal Arts & Sciences Awards for Research and Creativity, and he is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry. 

August Co-Editor Linzi Garcia can be found frolicking through fields, cemeteries, and bars across the states, gathering poetry along the way. She recently received her MA in English at Emporia State University, where she served as the assistant to Former Poet Laureate of Kansas Kevin Rabas and to Bluestem Press. Her first poetry collection, Thank You was published by Spartan Press (2018), and her co-written chapbook Live a Great Story was published by Analog Submission Press (2019). She is always looking to invest time in new places where she can absorb new perspectives.

We played house in her basement.
As mother, Ellie crouched
behind the plastic oven. As father,
I moved to kiss her forehead.
She frowned. You’re doing it wrong.

That year, Ellie’s father visited
the grocery store where
her mother worked. She steered
him to the storage room,
where he shot her dead, then himself.

We switched. As father,
Ellie hoisted a plate over her head,
slammed it to the floor.
As mother, I poured air from
plastic eggs into a red mixing bowl.

(Originally published in Broadsided Press, January 2018)

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. She is also the author of A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky, winner of the 2017 Vella Chapbook Award (Paper Nautilus Press, 2018). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, Sidereal, Stirring, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband and dogs in Lawrence, Kansas. 

August Co-Editor and Past Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019) Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks and chairs the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. He has twelve books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s and Liberal Arts & Sciences Awards for Research and Creativity, and he is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry. 

August Co-Editor Linzi Garcia can be found frolicking through fields, cemeteries, and bars across the states, gathering poetry along the way. She recently received her MA in English at Emporia State University, where she served as the assistant to Former Poet Laureate of Kansas Kevin Rabas and to Bluestem Press. Her first poetry collection, Thank You was published by Spartan Press (2018), and her co-written chapbook Live a Great Story was published by Analog Submission Press (2019). She is always looking to invest time in new places where she can absorb new perspectives.

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