Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Matthew Manning PhotoA secret society of cattle refuses

to be anyone’s property.

They don’t recognize the uses

of their every ounce.

 

Their flanks have never been mixed

with the powder packet

in your Hamburger Helper

or the off-brand that

almost tastes like the real thing.

 

The Hindus haven’t collected their urine

and distilled it to cure illness.

The cattle don’t like the term bovine

because bovine’s too generic.

In fact, because they’re cows,

they use no words at all.

 

Spread out and confident,

they graze the large land

never scared, standing tall.

A dead beefwood tree lies sideways

in the middle of the pasture.

The cattle are drawn to its stillness.

Silent and white,

it keeps their perfect attention.

~ Matthew David Manning

Bio: Matthew David Manning is a poet from Pittsburg, Kansas where he teaches at Pittsburg State University in the Intensive English Program. Matthew holds degrees in creative writing from Arizona State University and Pittsburg State University. Matthew is passionate about educating non-native English speakers about poetry, and recently returned from spending two years in Suzhou, China.

Guest editor Eric McHenry’s new book of poems, Odd Evening, will be published by Waywiser Press in 2016. His previous collections include Potscrubber Lullabies, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2007, and Mommy Daddy Evan Sage, a children’s book illustrated by Nicholas Garland. He also edited and introduced Peggy of the Flint Hills, a memoir by Zula Bennington Greene. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, Yale Review, Cincinnati Review, Field, Orion, The Guardian (U.K.), Poetry Daily and Poetry Northwest, from whom he received the 2010 Theodore Roethke Prize. Since 2001, he has been a poetry critic for The New York Times Book Review. He lives in Lawrence with his wife and two children and teaches creative writing at Washburn University.

imageAs the sun assumes its seasonal slump

forecasts of frost revive. Repressed reflections

trail the scatter of autumn leaves, set free.

Anonymous arrays of contorted tumblers,

nomadic as Kansas tumbleweeds,   

perennially sown across the landscape.

Synonymous bareback riders of planet Earth

drifting like Dust Bowl migrants

in land of too little or too much.

Swept up in the spirit of let go.

~ Robert Cory

Bio: Born in Missouri, Robert Cory was raised, schooled and has worked in Kansas most of his life. Dependably wearing out shoe leather, tires and ego trips in his quest for Aufklärung. His most recent work has appeared in Kansas Poems & Poets. In addition, The Euonia Review, vox poetica, The Catalonian Review, Poets Against War and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature have published his work. In March, 2013, his poem Exodus: redux, was awarded first place in the Kansas Writer’s Association free verse competition.

Guest editor Eric McHenry’s new book of poems, Odd Evening, will be published by Waywiser Press in 2016. His previous collections include Potscrubber Lullabies, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2007, and Mommy Daddy Evan Sage, a children’s book illustrated by Nicholas Garland. He also edited and introduced Peggy of the Flint Hills, a memoir by Zula Bennington Greene. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, Yale Review, Cincinnati Review, Field, Orion, The Guardian (U.K.), Poetry Daily and Poetry Northwest, from whom he received the 2010 Theodore Roethke Prize. Since 2001, he has been a poetry critic for The New York Times Book Review. He lives in Lawrence with his wife and two children and teaches creative writing at Washburn University.

Windows closed to snow

revealed a fox curled on pale ground,

full tail draped around,

pointed nose resting on paws

and brazen jet eyes staring at me.

 

He stretched and stood, loped away

to search, I’d guess, for a rodent

munching on grain spilled in the barn,

a rabbit blending with a snow knoll,

or an old hen near scrub oaks

pecking dense ice in a water bowl.

 

Tea and a down comforter

divorced me from the view

to consider swirling winds that dispense

chance between weak and strong.

Did not Nature devise

forever discord between the two?

For the sake of peace, I’d choose

equality which, I know, is as unlikely

as the old hen breaking the ice.

 

The fox has left, his dinner surely done,

my fitful musings of justice over,

I slowly succumb to a winter doze.

I hope, as my breath slows,

the fox’s meal was a larcenous rat.

~ Myrne Roe

Bio: I am a retired editorial writer and syndicated columnist who has been writing poetry for fifteen years. My poems have been published in local and regional publications including ByLine Magazine, Voices of the Heartland, Words Out of the Flatlands and Kansas Voices. I have also published a chapbook, Ironing Out the Wrinkles

myrne@cox.net

Guest editor Eric McHenry’s new book of poems, Odd Evening, will be published by Waywiser Press in 2016. His previous collections include Potscrubber Lullabies, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2007, and Mommy Daddy Evan Sage, a children’s book illustrated by Nicholas Garland. He also edited and introduced Peggy of the Flint Hills, a memoir by Zula Bennington Greene. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, Yale Review, Cincinnati Review, Field, Orion, The Guardian (U.K.), Poetry Daily and Poetry Northwest, from whom he received the 2010 Theodore Roethke Prize. Since 2001, he has been a poetry critic for The New York Times Book Review. He lives in Lawrence with his wife and two children and teaches creative writing at Washburn University.

100_2962Biting our faces

numbing our hands–

colder today, the experts say,

than experienced by most now living.

The black dog

tries to wiggle out of her red sweater

and slides with delight

on the perfectly-iced snow.

~ Anne Haehl
Bio: Anne Haehl is a lover of words, spoken and written. She is a poet and professional storyteller, Episcopalian and Quaker. She and her husband of 43 years have two grown children. They live with three cats and a dog in Lawrence, KS.

Guest Editor Eric McHenry’s new book of poems, Odd Evening, will be published by Waywiser Press in 2016. His previous collections include Potscrubber Lullabies, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2007, and Mommy Daddy Evan Sage, a children’s book illustrated by Nicholas Garland. He also edited and introduced Peggy of the Flint Hills, a memoir by Zula Bennington Greene. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, Yale Review, Cincinnati Review, Field, Orion, The Guardian (U.K.), Poetry Daily and Poetry Northwest, from whom he received the 2010 Theodore Roethke Prize. Since 2001, he has been a poetry critic for The New York Times Book Review. He lives in Lawrence with his wife and two children and teaches creative writing at Washburn University.

scottLast night I dreamed that young beautiful men danced

around me in my dusty chore clothes. The hems

of their long coats were frayed and spinning.

They worked me over like a choir. Beckoning

“choose me, pick this, why not here?

Why not this?”

Last week during the Sanctus my arms

rose on instinct, a ghosted gunrise

on a rooster pheasant.


Like some screwball charismatic, but

I heard the wingbeats. My life list

of birds grows daily.

But it isn’t a secret anymore. Dun quails whisper

“make some trouble over me. I am

worthy of sacrifice.”

My head is clean. My feet and hands are washed.

I have been here many times and for many times

this will come after.

Bio: Scott McCloud teaches, farms and writes near Walton, Kansas. His chapbook, Tallgrass Prairie Burn Cycle (2011 Full Metal Faith Press) features prairie, farming, sexuality and prayer as intimates. Market gardens, birding, hunting and fishing are touchstones and a childhood of churchly work ruptures his craft. He blogs at http://originalface.tumblr.com  samccloud@gmail.com

Guest Editor Diane Wahto has an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University. Her poem, “Someone Is Always Watching,” won the American Academy of Poets award. Recently, her poems “The Conspiracy of Coffee” and “After the Storm” were published in Active Aging. She, her husband, and two dogs live in Wichita, Kansas. dwahto@cox.net

Moonstain by Ronda Miller

RondaMillerBarn doors pushed closed an

indication something worth investigating

was within. It took all my strength to

slide to open, close again.

 

New birth in pungent urgency led

me to the still born calf quite warm. I

nestled into the hay beside it, placed

my arms around its neck.

 

I knew what death was—had

listened to whispers about my

mother’s not long before. I could

hear the mother cow’s loud bawling

from outside the back barn door.

 

I felt the spirit lift from the calf, swirl

around me, disappear. It grew cold;

I felt damp fear.

 

I sat in the caliginous stall

until my sister came, took my

hand, ran with me past my grandmother’s

garden of hollyhocks, iris, strawberries,

rhubarb, past the spot where the

rattler soaked up water from a sprinkler

one August day, past the rotten elm where

winged fire ants swarmed in balls before

they tumbled to the ground.

 

We opened the rusted screen door, tiptoed

to bed where I lay crying, because it

felt so wondrous, because it felt so good,

until the moon’s stain no longer

spread across the floor.

Bio: Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and t-storms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is Youth Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club, District 2 President, and a Life Coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include The Smithsonian Institute. 

Guest Editor Diane Wahto has an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University. Her poem, “Someone Is Always Watching,” won the American Academy of Poets award. Recently, her poems “The Conspiracy of Coffee” and “After the Storm” were published in Active Aging. She, her husband, and two dogs live in Wichita, Kansas. dwahto@cox.net

August by Tyler Sheldon

Tyler Sheldon PhotoSeeds explode like fire against the neighbor’s garage

or hang mortified like bodies

from the sycamore out front.

My father walks with leaden pipe in hand

(dog insurance, he says)

as downstreet the Akita runs his length of iron chain,

hoping it will snap.

 

I am barefoot and fifteen

and the concrete boils before me

as the mail truck pulls away

into the hallucinatory shimmer of the street.

I run out like time,

And life itself hangs in the balance.

Bio: Tyler Sheldon is the Press Manager for Flint Hills Review, and is a Creative Writing student at Emporia State University. His poetry has been published in numerous journals, such as Tulgey Wood, Quivira, Periphery, Thorny Locust, and eleven to seven, and is forthcoming in I-70 Review. The 2012 anthology To The Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices featured his poem “Fall” alongside work by Kansas Poet Laureates Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Denise Low. He has self-published a chapbook, Being (American). tyrsheldon@gmail.com

Guest Editor Diane Wahto has an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University. Her poem, “Someone Is Always Watching,” won the American Academy of Poets award. Recently, her poems “The Conspiracy of Coffee” and “After the Storm” were published in Active Aging. She, her husband, and two dogs live in Wichita, Kansas. dwahto@cox.net

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