Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

A narrow nest,

fled as soon as

fledged, but flight

alone, never enough.

 

Faltering return.

Wingbeat found

in the familiar.

Venturing forth again,

 

Seeking wider skies,

Full of sudden swoops

And spirals, rising

And falling Intentionally.

~ Janet Jenkins-Stotts

Janet Jenkins-Stotts’s poems have been published in Kansas Voices, Konza Journal, River City Voices, Dash, Passager and the Swedish underground journal, “Devote.” She lives in Topeka, KS. with her husband and their min-pin, Romeo. stottsjanet@gmail.com

June Editor Bio: Ramona Vreeland McCallum is the author of a collection of poetry entitled Still Life with Dirty Dishes (Woodley Press, 2013). She earned her MFA from UMKC in 2017 and her Master of Arts in Teaching from KSU in 2018. She lives in Garden City, Kansas where she teaches 5th grade English Language Arts and co-parents six children with her husband, Brian McCallum. For June’s poems, Ramona selected work whose avian and weather imagery convey metaphoric and dichotomous themes of restlessness &peace, anxiety & security, and which communicate the power of presence when reflecting on the past and looking toward the future.

Like our cows
held by ropes at milking time,Arlin Buyert
I was distanced on our prairie farm
with the closest neighbor a mile away.

Then one day I got off the school bus
to find a 1941 Chevy Coupe
parked near the farmhouse. Dad paid
$65, all for me to drive to high school.

The next day I adjusted the rear-view mirror,
watched the red barn and mom’s
empty clothesline slowly fade
into the rolling hills north of town.

Through the windshield
I saw new life in the town’s water tower,
high school friends, basketball games,
first kiss, college, slipping into adulthood.

Now an old man, I’m back to that mirror:
see grandpa walk the farm, dad’s heart attack,
mom’s funeral, weddings, kids born,
Navy days, career, beach vacations,
dogs, granddaughter, spouse’s death, and
cloudy, crafty, crazy covid’s shadow

on my own release.

 

Arlin Buyert was born and raised on an Iowa farm, formally educated at
Macalester College and The University of Minnesota, and has authored four collections of poetry, his most recent Razor Wire. He teaches poetry at Lansing Prison and has edited three anthologies of inmate poetry. Arlin’s poems have been published in The Christian Century, The Rockhurst Review, Coal City Review and other journals. He lives in Leawood with his wife Kristen Kvam.

May Editor Maril Crabtree’s book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark was named a Kansas Notable Book for 2017.

Spring breaks open in eastern Kansas.
In New York they’re loading bodies in refrigerated trailers.
At my corner forsythia stretches yellow arms.
Everywhere draped and masked medics adjust ventilators.
I tread past dandelions glinting gold from tender grass.
Stores shutter; the unemployed stand in line for food.
A star magnolia trembles in a damp breeze.Phyllis Galley Westover
Fellow walkers move to the middle of the street.
In New York TV cameras pan mass graves—
From an oak a robin sings its rain song.

Phyllis Galley Westover’s writing has appeared in magazines, newspapers and three anthologies. She received Boulevard’s Short Fiction Award and was a finalist for the Iowa Award in Literary Nonfiction. Her children’s book, Sold to the Highest Bidder, is available on Amazon. Two documentary films she wrote appeared on public television.

May Editor Maril Crabtree’s book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark was named a Kansas Notable Book for 2017.

“Nature’s first green is gold,” Frost said.
And that’s what I remember of my woods in spring.
This year the thin black branches stay
Even as the crocus and quince,
The daffodils and tulips, the violets and sedum
Come out in glory.

Things are close to right at the dog park.Edeen Martin
From afar we greet old pals and pups.
But even here, big dogs cower
With their humans in the small dog yard
While a Chihuahua mix named “Cheeto”
Barks frantically at all comers
Like an angry mouse.

So much is off in this out-of-kilter season
When dark and light are meant to match –
This time of Mardi Gras and Easter
This time of Purim and Passover
This time of Ramadan and Eid.
How can we celebrate?

 

 

Edeen Martin is a life-long Kansas City resident. She has written poetry most of her life. After 25 years in museums and arts management and 10 more at Silent Unity and as a hospital chaplain, Edeen now spends most of her time making sense of her life through poetry and the visual arts.

May Editor Maril Crabtree’s book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark was named a Kansas Notable Book for 2017.

I sit at my Bernina, a fancy new
sewing machine, stitching a straight seam.
Yards and yards of green stretch out before
me, a hundred percent cotton path.

It’s not a wedding gown I sew, norTrish Miller (2)
a baby’s christening gown, nor
a quilt with complicated stitching. Today
I sew, not for fun, but because I ought.

Nine by six-inch rectangles, quarter inch
elastic, to make the recommended
face masks. Can I make a difference?
I’ll never know. Pandemics don’t answer.

In this time of despair,
every mask is a prayer.

 

Trish Miller loves words as friends and playmates. She began writing in fourth grade but only recently started writing poetry as a way to share thoughts, emotions, beliefs and occasional humor beyond her family. A graduate of Saint Mary College, Leavenworth, she has written instructional materials, retreats, and guided reflections.

 

May Editor Maril Crabtree’s book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark was named a Kansas Notable Book for 2017.

Without fail, each August, I stop to wonder
why my great grandparents stayed here,
Where ruts crack beneath the
crisps of weeds
And only bindweed dares to thrive.
Tough, stern-faced, they battled the earth
to coax seeds into grains,
while black “Dust Bowl” blizzards choked
hot curses from their mouths.

They must have had their reasons.
Maybe the charlatans, strange ways,
or ill fit of the world outside
corralled them back to the familiar.
Where roots and worms tangle
in living earth.
Where locusts raise metallic songs
to a cloudless ocean of sky.
Where sunset’s red glow
exhales their timeless breath.

Today the August breeze cools my skin.
The sun is not a searing enemy.
I search the ground for cracks and find
velvety grass and globs of spongy earth.
I kneel on the green space where I see
ground uncracked and breathing a promise.

I imagine their fallen bones,
buried in the Lone Star graveyard,
my ancestors’ dust blended with ancient dirt.
Would they feel my hands
digging in fragrant soil?
Feel the weight of me
tethered where they settled?

For one brief summer, drought
is never spoken.
This land seems friendly,
a place to be touched.
But I know well enough,
ditches shining with puddles will not last.
Soon after barren clouds tease the horizon

I’ll see cracks checker through
the drying weeds, where sky meets earth
on a straight-ruled line.

Today, though. Today, I press mud, fat
against the roots of basil and mint.
Touch the promise of
impatiens’ purple blooms.
Listen for the distant thunder.
Listen, like my forbearers, for the rustle
of crops on the vast rippling plains.
Cling to the hope of rain-bearing clouds.
Unpack the reasons to leave,
bury them deep beneath the busted sod.

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.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

My feet dunked, I float
my Crocs, nurse

the spilt in my head
with trips to the spigot.

Heal me, sweet
mother, if you think

I’m worth it. Bless
the inventor

of water and one more
way to withstand

the summer.
Jungle cat rugs

of heat piled plush
on my chest,

I pluck off my T-shirt
and squeeze

rainbows out of a spray-bottle.
Theo empties cups

over my kneecaps, raising
the dark waterline

of soaked denim.
The more I resist the pastoral,

the greater
my urge to pastor.

 

This poem first appeared in The Gravity of the Thing.

 

Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His second, Father Me Again, is available from Spartan Press. Chapbook Coming Home with Cancer is forthcoming in Blue Lyra Press’s Delphi Poetry Series.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

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