Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

I work my way along the fence
on the east side of the pasture
where mulberry and pigweeds
keep pressing their needs
against the line of the wires
that set the boundary of grass and grazing.
Unclipped, their green stalks
would short the circuit that is meant
to keep the horse from pressing his way
through the course of wires into the longer grass
that is just past the reach
of twisted neck, extended head.
He could easily run right through
the weave of thin strands of extruded plastic
and micro-thin strands of conductor
that carry the current from solar charger
to the circuit of the field.
But the gelding has generally agreed
to forego free will
and spare himself that momentary pain
that would gain him greater range,
which would also include the highway
only a few seconds away
where pickup trucks with flatbed trailers
and semi’s fully loaded
run by at seventy-miles-an-hour.

He stands near the short silhouette of a scrub oak tree,
sleek hide burnished by evening sun,
tail and mane training toward the north,
soft blades of bluegrass and brome
hanging out both sides of his mouth.

~ Doc Arnett

Doc Arnett teaches Creative Writing and directs Institutional Research at the oldest college in Kansas, Highland Community College. He and his wife of twenty-five years, Randa, live in Doniphan, Kansas. A Kentucky native, Doc enjoys writing, singing, remodeling and watching Randa enjoy her Rocky Mountain Horse, Gospel Ryder’s Lil Journey.


Kelly W. Johnston, guest editor, is a life-long Kansan, who was born in Lawrence in 1955, and graduated from Wichita State in 1977 with a major in creative writing. He has published poems in
Mikrokosmos, The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. He will publish two poems in the up-coming 2016 issue of The I-70 Review. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where many of his poems are inspired.

Womb05_10_1

In pulsings of

Amniotic waves, she kicked in place,

Flipping fins with digits extended.

 

Turtle

Belly down on blue-green

Seaweed tangles of the living room floor,

Like an upturned turtle,

She waited for the tide

To carry her to the sea.

 

River

She points to the rock shaped like a platform

at the promontory tip and lowers goggles

over spot-flecked skin,

above goldfish eyes.

Frog-like, she leaps.

 

Winter

Walking the fencerow over frozen ground,

She tests her arms against the March wind,

One over the other

In a tight front crawl,

Racing for the gate.

 

Meet

Under the surface she becomes

Like the rest something other, a creature

Who senses some ancient tug

In the cells of her hands,

In her lungs.

 

Body

Her body is 70 percent water.

She is a small, compact lake

into which swimmers dive from a bluff

and do laps around the thirty percent island

guarded by a chain-link fence.

 

Prairie

After a swim in the creek,

Running in lush grass cresting above her head

White-capped by wind,

She leaps above waves

as if lunging for air

Before diving below again.

 

Sea

She paddles in a pond

Surrounded by rolling hills,

Once the bed of an ancient inland sea.

In mist, ghost fish

glide above her.

 

Pond

Tethys, Greek goddess of earth’s fresh waters,

Was mother to three thousand daughters.

One now wades ashore

From the blinding surface,

Returning to this life.

~ 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.

Kelly W. Johnston, guest editor, is a life-long Kansan, who was born in Lawrence in 1955, and graduated from Wichita State in 1977 with a major in creative writing. He has published poems in Mikrokosmos, The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. He will publish two poems in the up-coming 2016 issue of The I-70 Review. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where many of his poems are inspired.

the old gray man215770_1020568651506_6725248_n

shuffled along the walk

stopped short at

one lone dandelion locket

dropped his cane

slowly knelt to pick it

stopped by the old woman

fumbled in his pocket

for its shaking handle

sat beside her and

on the painted park bench

placed the yellow present

in her smiling hand

~ 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.

Kelly W. Johnston, guest editor, is a life-long Kansan, who was born in Lawrence in 1955, and graduated from Wichita State in 1977 with a major in creative writing. He has published poems in Mikrokosmos, The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. He will publish two poems in the up-coming 2016 issue of The I-70 Review. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where many of his poems are inspired.

A freezing March wind ravaged the plainsPat Latta
Her daddy worried about
the calves
the wheat
the tractor

Her mama worried about her only daughter

A daughter who saw his eyes
in the blue March sky
His sunburned back
in the sunrise
His name in every book she read

She waited for June
and the harvest crew
when he and his cousin and brother
moved north from Texas

Maybe she could bring iced tea
to the crew
Maybe she would touch his hand
Oh Mama, please?

March is cold
on the Kansas plains
And lonely

~ Pat Latta

Pat Latta grew up in a small town in central Texas.  He moved to Wichita in 1983 and lives close to the Little Arkansas River.  He writes with a weekly poetry group.  He appreciates the power of individual words in poetry and strives to express ideas as concisely as possible.

Guest Editor Kelly W. Johnston is a life-long Kansan, who was born in Lawrence in 1955, and graduated from Wichita State in 1977 with a major in creative writing. He has published poems in Mikrokosmos, The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. He will publish two poems in the up-coming 2016 issue of The I-70 Review. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where many of his poems are inspired.

Dad’s Fur Coat by

Jenni Gribble PhotoWhat matters now is Dad’s fur coat.

I don’t know where it came from or how he got it,

But he wore it in Kansas winters.

All wrapped up in white and lonely softness.
 

I remember him,

Standing in front of the old buggy.

He had come to play Santa Claus

With a tree and treats.

And when there was snow enough,

He put runners on the wagon box.

And all wrapped up in moonshine,

He rode through the tinsel starlight.

~ Jenni Gribble

Jenni Gribble: I was born in Ottawa, Kansas, and these poems are inspired by stories told by my ancestors, who settled Kansas in the 1800’s. I am a graduate student in English at Morehead State University, Kentucky, and a high school English teacher. My work has appeared in Inscape: Art and Literary Magazine.

Cody Shrum holds both a B.A. and M.A. in Creative Writing from Pittsburg State University with an emphasis in fiction. However, his poetry has appeared in velvet-tail and Kansas Time + Place online literary magazines. Cody plans to pursue his MFA degree in fiction next fall—an adventure he will embark on with his wife, Kylee, and their two dogs, Zoey and Zeus.

Dead Dog by Julie Ramon

It’s been a week now and still eachJulieramon.jpg

day I see you on the side of the highway

serving as a small, black line

connecting Kansas to Missouri.

Bits of your hair are frozen and reflective

against the rising sun. I pass your crushed bones,

asphalt gripping claws and black ears,

that ripple in the wind of passing cars.

 

I tell myself your family came

and gently took your body home and buried

you beneath a sycamore. And, you weren’t drug

away by teeth sunken deep in the folds

of your neck and torn apart leaving nothing

but a smeared trail of what you used to be.

~ Julie Ramon
Julie Ramon is an English instructor, specializing in English as a second language, at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Her poems “Making Tamales” and “Making Tortillas” were recently published in the literary food magazine, Graze. She enjoys baking and selling cakes from home on weekends. She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband and son.

Cody Shrum holds both a B.A. and M.A. in Creative Writing from Pittsburg State University with an emphasis in fiction. However, his poetry has appeared in velvet-tail and Kansas Time + Place online literary magazines. Cody plans to pursue his MFA degree in fiction next fall—an adventure he will embark on with his wife, Kylee, and their two dogs, Zoey and Zeus.

Now by Michael Lasater

Michael LasaterKansasGallery4Largetime turns on point

dancing its one

inexhaustible moment

rewinding shadow

until memory shatters

and all the soft

evenings return

carried on the voices

of old men

(my father’s the deepest)

telling again their stories

told already

some other future time

some moment arrived

only yesterday

all packed up for

its journey

into the night.

~ Michael Lasater

Hutchinson native Michael Lasater is Professor of New Media at Indiana University South Bend. With degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory, Juilliard, and Syracuse University, he has performed with ensembles including the Metropolitan Opera, produced documentaries on writers and literature for PBS distribution, and currently exhibits art video nationally and internationally.

Cody Shrum holds both a B.A. and M.A. in Creative Writing from Pittsburg State University with an emphasis in fiction. However, his poetry has appeared in velvet-tail and Kansas Time + Place online literary magazines. Cody plans to pursue his MFA degree in fiction next fall—an adventure he will embark on with his wife, Kylee, and their two dogs, Zoey and Zeus.

 

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