Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GusThe swollen stars spoke
to one another in bright whispers
above our boat so the planets
wouldn’t hear.

Dad’s breath rose and joined
mine in wind that stole it,
wind cold as water
churning at the bottom of the lake.

The green-tipped tail
of a shooting star falling toward
Earth, yearning to touch
rich Kansas soil, bloomed
bright, and I pointed.

We smiled, still hushed
by the planets when my pole
bent half-over and our boat
nearly tipped into the shining
image of stars
bouncing on water.

The belly of our boat thrashed
against the blurred reflection
of stars on waves.
Bait jumped and splashed
in the sliding bucket.

Our boat, everything in it,
converged to meet
the pale-finned body
rising from the furious lake.

 

 

Cody Shrum is a second-year graduate student at Pittsburg State University, studying Creative Writing with an emphasis in fiction. Cody plans to pursue his MFA degree next fall—an adventure he will embark on with his wife, Kylee, and their two dogs, Zoey and Zeus.

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.

 

Carolyn Hall 001I bid farewell to the season of my childhood

Proud limestone house defended me from nature’s rages

Scent of Grandma’s lilacs filtered through my bedroom window

Stutterstart of rusted McCormick tractor protested early morning chores

Wheat fields swayed in rhythm to Kansas wind

 

My brief homecomings startle me

 

Roofs sag under the burden of years

Wild sunflowers flood the land and spread victory over silent machines

Cattle roam among skeletal remains of once-pampered bushes

Blank stares from hollow windows haunt the landscape

Turtle doves take flight, mourn the loss

~ Carolyn Hall

Carolyn Hall grew up on  a  family farm near Olmitz, Kansas. Her writings include “Prairie Meals and Memories,” a memoir cookbook focusing on family farm life, named one of the Best 150 Books of Kansas. She has also written for the Chicken Soup series, The Kansas City Star, Christian Science Monitor and several other publications. She lives in Shawnee, Kansas.

Maril Crabtree spent her childhood in Memphis and grew up in New Orleans, but married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and her poems have appeared in I-70 Review, DMQ Review, Spank the Carp, and others. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014); some of her poems can be seen at www.marilcrabtree.com

10885210_10203995076012065_23950373450041338_n  —Watches and warnings issued. Plains threatened by devastating storms.  (weather.com)

Quick. Open the door. There—in the east—

across the tired grass with its small continents of unmelted snow,

beyond the fence your neighbor built (spoiling late summer evenings

with 70s hard rock and cursing),

on the other side of the lead work tracery of branches—

the sky is pink this morning—an astounding paintbrush pink

that Georgia O’Keefe would have followed out of the desert,

an opera pink—the flush across the top of the soprano’s breasts.

 

And above the pink a blue purer than birth—

that moment of the healthy cry, nothing but hope and possibility.

The blue of standing in a rainstorm, wet denim loving your skin,

the blue of creaking sails nuzzling the horizon, porpoise wheels turning.

 

Today will not bring rain or wind or snow, but sun

and happiness and insanity and desire—a whole mute sky of it.

Look—a pair of cardinals is out there on a branch calling—come

closer, closer.

~ Pat Daneman

Pat Daneman has lived in Lenexa, Kansas since 1986. Recent work appears in Escape Into Life, The Moon City Review, I-70 Review, Bellevue Poetry Review, and The Comstock Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press.

Maril Crabtree spent her childhood in Memphis and grew up in New Orleans, but married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and her poems have appeared in I-70 Review, DMQ Review, Spank the Carp, and others. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014); some of her poems can be seen at www.marilcrabtree.com

Snobs everywhere make fun of this landscape,

but while driving up Highway 59 I see the light.

When the light of the late day becomes magic hour

wheat fields shimmer; grain elevators glow.

Monet, Van Gogh: they’d go for this big time.

But what do Impressionistic eyes really see?

 

Coming into Moran there’s a sun-bleached sign by the road:

HOME OF DEBBIE BARNES, MISS AMERICA 1968.

One person who saw this sign

was a basketball star for Ottawa College

who’d drive to Kansas University in Lawrence

and over one spring rape seven women,

all as beautiful as Miss America.

He drove this road, at this time, in this light.

 

Did his imagination do anything with this landscape?

Why couldn’t beauty better him?

Touch him? Uplift him? Stop him?

Or did beauty drive him to grab hold of it before –

like the light of magic hour – it faded?

I drive to Lawrence in heavenly light and wonder

if something like him is part of every landscape.

Frank Higgins is both a playwright and poet. His play Black Pearl Sings has been one of the most produced in the country over the last few years. His books of poetry include Starting From Ellis Island, Bkmk Press. He teaches playwriting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Maril Crabtree spent her childhood in Memphis and grew up in New Orleans, but married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and her poems have appeared in I-70 Review, DMQ Review, Spank the Carp, and others. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014); some of her poems can be seen at www.marilcrabtree.com

image001I hear our John Deere tractor,

feel sister Berdie’s hand wash my back,

 

hear echoes of the northbound train,

smell Dad’s bib overalls,

 

hear Tippie bark at the egg man,

see Grandpa walk the cows,

 

hear pigeons coo in the cupola,

feel the bite of winter’s wind,

 

hear Mom sing a Dutch psalm,

taste dust on my lips.

 

Corn crib, tool shed, chicken coop,

hog house, apple orchard, rose garden,

 

water pump, willow tree, windmill –

gone.

 

I walk the old farm,

a barren black-earth story and find

 

a ceramic chip from a plate,

a rusted iron gear, and a broken cup

 

askance in dirt, lost souls waiting.

~ Arlin Buyert

Arlin Buyert was born and raised on an Iowa farm and educated at Macalester College and The University of Minnesota. He has published three books of poetry and his most recent book Oh Say Can You See was a Thorpe Menn Award finalist in 2015. He has also edited two anthologies of inmate poetry entitled Open to the Sky, Volumes 1 and 2). His poems have been published in the Rockhurst Review, Coal City Review, and others. Arlin lives in Leawood, Kansas with his wife Kris Kvam.

Maril Crabtree spent her childhood in Memphis and grew up in New Orleans, but married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes and edits poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in I-70 Review, DMQ Review, Spank the Carp, Canyon Voices, and others. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014); some of her work can be seen at www.marilcrabtree.com

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