Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

XanLlueve en el fosforescente verde matutino

Descubro entre la cibernética tinta negra

Entre un desconocido norte que es mi sur

Palabras entretejidas con miedos

Sentimientos disfrazados de distancia

Muros metálicos dividen dos países

Dos corazones, madres e hijos

Padres y hermanos, pasado y presente

¿Qué nos hace diferentes?

Somos manos que escriben, que trabajan

Limpian y guían en la oscuridad más grande

¿Qué es una frontera? Límites creados

Culturas forzadas a darse la espalda

Llueve en el fosforescente verde matutino

Descubro entre la tinta negra de esta

Pantalla de luz artificial los hombres

Y mujeres sin nombre que apenas

Dejan rastro de su existencia en

Los desiertos. Anónimos seres

Que nunca serán reclamados

Esperan las madres orgullosas a los

Hijos e hijas tragados por la flamígera

Arena del desierto. Rojo atardecer llena

Mi pantalla y la tinta negra empieza a

Sangrar.

 

It’s raining in the phosphorescent greenness of daybreak

I discover in the cybernetic black ink

In an unknown north that is my south

Words interwoven with fears

Emotions disguised as distance

Metallic walls dividing two nations

Two hearts, mothers and children

Fathers and siblings, past and present

What makes us different?

We are hands that write, that work

Cleaning and guiding in the darkest dark

What is a border? Created limits

Cultures forced to turn their back

It’s raining in the phosphorescent greenness of daybreak

I discover in the black ink of this

Screen of artificial light nameless

Men and women who barely

Leave a trace of their existence in

The deserts. Anonymous beings

Who will never be claimed

Proud mothers awaiting

Sons and daughters swallowed by the scorching

Desert sand. Red twilight fills

My screen and the black ink begins to

Bleed.

~ by Xánath Caraza

Translated by Sandra Kingery

Xánath Caraza teaches at the University of Missouri Kansas City and presents readings and workshops in Europe, Latin America, and the U.S. Her most recent book is Ocelocíhuatl. Her book of poetry, Sílabas de viento / Syllables of Wind received the 2015 International Book Award for Poetry. It also received Honorable Mention for Best Book of Poetry in Spanish in the 2015 International Latino Book Awards. Her book of verse Conjuro and book of short fiction Lo que trae la marea / What the Tide Brings have won national and international recognition. Caraza is a writer for La Bloga and she writes the “US Latino Poets en español” column.

Sandra Kingery, Professor of Spanish at Lycoming College, has translated Ana María Moix, René Vázquez Díaz, Liliana Colanzi, Federico Guzmán Rubio, and Kepa Murua.

 

Tyler Sheldon earned his MA in English at Emporia State University, where he taught English Composition and received the 2016 Charles E. Walton Graduate Essay Award. His poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Quiddity International Literary Journal, Thorny Locust, and other journals. Sheldon is a two-time AWP Intro Journals Award nominee, and has appeared on Kansas Public Radio.

 

after StaffordWyatt Townley Headshot (color)

 

Agree with the river.

Agree with the field

and the tree. If you agree

with the wind that rises

in the midst of your life

running through everything,

rearranging the best

laid plans, branches down,

leaves scattered, you will agree

with what’s under your feet.

There are your parents.

~©2016 by Wyatt Townley

Wyatt Townley was the Poet Laureate of Kansas (2013-15), and her travels across the state inspired this poem. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, North American Review, Newsweek, Prairie Schooner, and The Yale Review.  Her books of poetry include The Breathing Field, Perfectly Normal, and The Afterlives of Trees. www.WyattTownley.com

Tyler Sheldon earned his MA in English at Emporia State University, where he taught English Composition and received the 2016 Charles E. Walton Graduate Essay Award. His poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Quiddity International Literary Journal, Thorny Locust, and other journals. Sheldon is a two-time AWP Intro Journals Award nominee, and has appeared on Kansas Public Radio.

averill-tomLongwood Botanical Garden, Pennsylvania:

The Idea Garden demonstrates plants and plantings,

juxtapositions and designs, for home gardeners.

 

Every Botanical Garden is an Idea Garden,

every gardener a home gardener.

 

Nature, expressing itself, element

by element, is an Idea Garden.

 

Live near a Botanical Garden: your neighborhood

will lean toward it, as though a plant learning the sun.

 

Plants, design features, walls, fountains, plantings,

will escape the garden walls and sneak into nearby yards.

 

The Botanical Garden, swept and manicured:

such Godliness promotes cleanliness for blocks and blocks.

 

Your clean neighborhood will make a nice entryway

to that destination, the Botanical Garden.

 

Take a cutting from, find a seed in, the Botanical Garden:

so planted, your neighborhood will be a Botanical Garden.

 

The seeds in your boot treads will take root as you visit

the Botanical Garden, which will then become your neighborhood.

 

The butterfly in your bush, the bird in your redbud,

fly into the Botanical Garden without boundaries.

 

Colorful wings flutter, birdsong warbles,

humming wings nudge their way into any flower.

 

The Botanical Garden, your neighborhood, earth

and sky, are one place. Nature is one place.

 

All Ideas welcomed into this garden.

~ Thomas Fox Averill

An O. Henry Award story writer, Thomas Fox Averill is Writer-in-Residence at Washburn University of Topeka, KS. His novel, rode, published by the University of New Mexico Press, was named Outstanding Western Novel of 2011 as part of the Western Heritage Awards. His recent work, “Garden Plots,” consists of poems, meditations, and short-short stories about gardens, gardeners, garden design, plants, and the human relationship to nature.  His most recent novel is A Carol Dickens Christmas, which won the Byron Caldwell Smith Award from the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas, and was named a Kansas Notable Book in 2015.

Tyler Sheldon earned his MA in English at Emporia State University, where he taught English Composition and received the 2016 Charles E. Walton Graduate Essay Award. His poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Quiddity International Literary Journal, Thorny Locust, and other journals. Sheldon is a two-time AWP Intro Journals Award nominee, and has appeared on Kansas Public Radio.

Kim StaffordShe had taken to having naps

most afternoons in the side parlor

while the TV flickered, muttered

brash fuss or hush of snow

 

as the long hours rounded into dusk,

so dear Mar, when we found her,

lay settled in the easy chair where her

soft light had stepped to the window,

 

slipped free through the cold clear panes,

passed lively into the buds of cottonwood,

her whispered “Yes” to wind and stars,

her way with folding hands, learned young

 

by lasting through the thirties, by raising nine

alone, by dealing books to hungry eyes in school,

by feeding us on the stove named Detroit Jewel,

her winsome prayers at times both hard and good

 

gone deep to the loyal roots of hickory, her calm

to elm reaching over the long prairie road

that joins the there of her

to the here of us, until it all

 

turns inside out, and through the world

beyond all trouble to core affections, no matter

how far or strange, we now see our days

by the gentle gaze of Mar.

~ Kim Stafford

Kim Stafford is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, where he has taught writing since 1979, and is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft and A Thousand Friends of Rain: New & Selected Poems.  His most recent books are 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared, and Wind on the Waves: Stories from the Oregon Coast.

Tyler Sheldon earned his MA in English at Emporia State University, where he taught English Composition and received the 2016 Charles E. Walton Graduate Essay Award. His poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Quiddity International Literary Journal, Thorny Locust, and other journals. Sheldon is a two-time AWP Intro Journals Award nominee, and has appeared on Kansas Public Radio.

Julieramon.jpgI try to write it for you in my head
every morning when I turn down
the numbered gravel road that leads
me into Kansas. Things are different
here. Cows gather near fence lines
and raise their wet noses to smell
the wind that welcomes traveling
geese and flocks of starlings
that twirl and spin through the air.
And when the sun rises, it deepens
the copper on train cars, the rust
on an abandoned Chevy truck
shell, and patches of vines growing
to the tips of leaning telephone poles.
But, when I arrive home and see
your arms open and the shape
of your face change, I forget it all.

 

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.

Guest Editor: Roy Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poems have recently appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Kansas City Voices, The North Dakota Review, and I-70 Review. Two of his poems were nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize competition. His debut collection of poems, “Music I Once Could Dance To,” published in 2014 by Coal City Review and Press, was selected as a 2015 Kansas Notable Book by the State Library of Kansas and the Kansas Center for the Book.

 

Crabtree Head shot - 12%At sunset, traffic turns nervous.
SUV’s and blunt-nosed vans
command the lanes. A red Silverado

darts here and there with the sure grace
of a dragonfly, stitching lanes together
as it weaves in and out. The air blooms

with the tang of gasoline, hums with the weary drone
of tires on asphalt. Behind these wheels sit women
rehashing the morning’s dispute with their lover

or men hoping they can get home
in time to have a beer and watch the game. Herds of headlights
swallow the sun’s last rays. As the rain begins,

A thousand windshield wipers fling it away.
Lawns have been watered and swimming pools filled. The rain
is nothing but a nuisance. It’s already too dark for rainbows.

 

 

Maril Crabtree married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and is a former poetry editor for Kansas City Voices. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014).

Guest Editor: Roy Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poems have recently appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Kansas City Voices, The North Dakota Review, and I-70 Review. Two of his poems were nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize competition. His debut collection of poems, “Music I Once Could Dance To,” published in 2014 by Coal City Review and Press, was selected as a 2015 Kansas Notable Book by the State Library of Kansas and the Kansas Center for the Book.

It was early in the morning
and maybe it was just a dream.Pat Latta
I visited with God just for a second.
That’s the way dreams go sometimes.
There’s something about God and time;
I guess you might say
they both go back a long, long way.

In my dream, I sat on the dewy grass
watching God begin to paint the morning.
I think a sunrise over the Flint Hills
is a good place to start, He said.
I’ll add a little wisp of fog in the valleys,
a glint of early light on the pond,
a reflection of the cottonwoods.
Sometimes I think I go too far
with sunlight on water.

Cottonwoods are beginning to turn,
so I need a little green,
a little yellow,
a little orange.
Oops. I might have overdone it.
I do that sometimes.

Let’s see, I’ll put a matching pair of herons
taking off with water dripping from their feet,
looking like they’re trailing fire in the sunlight.
I always like the way I do that.

I love to do clouds too,
I’ll add a couple to filter the sun
as it peeks over the horizon.
I’ll need lots of shades of blue for the sky now,
and different pinks and yellows for those clouds.
I always like to squeeze in just a little magenta
right down there on the horizon, too.

Sometimes I think I go too far,
He said.

God, I said, I couldn’t agree with you more.

 

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: Roy Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poems have recently appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Kansas City Voices, The North Dakota Review, and I-70 Review. Two of his poems were nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize competition. His debut collection of poems, “Music I Once Could Dance To,” published in 2014 by Coal City Review and Press, was selected as a 2015 Kansas Notable Book by the State Library of Kansas and the Kansas Center for the Book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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