Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

I.

 

A comfortable radical, an academic writing careful verse

in a warm office, what would I do

if fascists rose again, slaughterers with perfect death machines?

I cannot say.

There is no answering that day

until it comes, nor knowing what bells one will strike in warning,

what knotted words of compliance

slip too easily from the tongue.

I have no faith in my bravery, less than in the god revealed

only in silence. Oh, One Who Moves Behind the Facade,

the doors gaping to three-walled houses,

let the illusion-breakers not come for me.

But if they must, grant that I remember Garcia Lorca:

These fields will be strewn with bodies.

I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to Granada.

 

II.

 

Show an affirming flame:

words renounced,

called back, called back,

as though they had not

echoed through the canyons

before they returned.

    And if my words

become ugly, if I recant

every last kind thought,

if the lines of my face

twist in cruelty,

may these soundings

outlast me.

~ Izzy Wasserstein

Izzy Wasserstein is the author of This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, a 2013 Kansas Notable Book. Izzy teaches at Washburn University, runs long distances slowly, and shares a home with a cat and three dogs.

Guest Editor Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the author or editor of two dozen books, including the recent poetry collection Following the Curve, and collection of prose Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and Miraculous. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches, she leads writing workshops widely, and loves watching the poetry of others rise and glow.

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In honor of Hawks Well Theater, Sligo

When the last of the stars winks out

when time’s constant hum falls silent

with the last breath of midnight

 

still

 

we’ll pipe the old tunes and whistle the jigs

fingers will snap and brogues will click

we’ll find each other in the dark

~ Maril Crabtree

Originally published in Maril’s new book, Fireflies in the Gathering Dark (Kelsay Books 2017).

Maril Crabtree lives in the Midwest and writes poetry, creative nonfiction, reviews, and occasional short fiction. Her work has appeared in Canyon Voices, Main Street Rag, Coal City Review, and others. She is a former poetry editor for Kansas City Voices.

Pat Daneman has published poems and short fiction in many print and on-line journals. Her most recent work appears in the anthology New Poetry from the Midwest, Moon City Review, Stonecoast Review, Comstock Review and Bellevue Literary Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. After All, her first full-length poetry collection will be published in 2018 by FutureCycle Press.

She was nearly seventy and catching the evening news

when the buzzcut Skinheads appeared on the big screen TV

gathering to explain that it was all just a hoax.

 

She had thought the Dead dead,

but now the remnant past prickled about her

and the peephole of memory swung open.

Tiny white bones began rising up to consciousness

and she journeyed back into cattle cars

and marched through the fresh and falling snow.

When tilling fields for crops she was startled again

by the tiny white bones of babies turned to fertilizer.

She revisited the half-living about the edge of fire,

and heard voices from her childhood

that had gathered to the chambers.

 

Now, when I walk in her sewing shop

she looks up and her pale eyes flash and smile.

The bulb of the vintage Singer machine

blazes yellow on the backs of her hands

as her fingers draw thread

through a needle’s eye.

Her veins are old, full and blue like tattoos.

When her hand feeds fabric to the seam,

the veins bulge and I see the dull blue numbers

on her forearm are ink from another century.

 

She tells that a few survived the chambers:

Those bodies that still breathed

were dragged out no differently

and stacked with the dead;

all then doused for the burning.

After the blaze of fuel was spent

and the fiery core had already sunk to ash,

the edge of the smoking heap was mostly char.

Little much survived past that smoldering edge –

Just the upper body still alive

with a hand that moved a bit

and a face tilting upward.

The eyes locked intently upon her,

sharply holding her at witness.

~ Jemshed Khan

Jemshed Khan has published poems in Number One Magazine, Wittenberg Review, #BlackArtMatters (2016), Read Local (2016), Rigorous (2017), NanoText (Medusa’s Laugh Press, 2017) and the chapbook Paean for Billy Collins (Calliope Club Press, 2017). The author is slated for Clockwise Cat, Issue 36 (2017) and I-70 Review (September 2017).

Pat Daneman has published poems and short fiction in many print and on-line journals. Her most recent work appears in the anthology New Poetry from the Midwest, Moon City Review, Stonecoast Review, Comstock Review and Bellevue Literary Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. After All, her first full-length poetry collection will be published in 2018 by FutureCycle Press.

At what must seem to them the “appointed time,”

Great numbers of turkey vultures arrive,

To occupy only the highest boughs of the tallest trees

Where everything below exists to serve their repast and repose,

The stray cats, the scampering squirrels, the pigeons and the voles.

 

Mighty in their size, fearsome in their fixed gaze,

Swooping and sweeping with their massive, wide wings

Each edged like a serrated blade, and those talons

As sharp as their sight, boasting a beak for a nose,

Pity the cats and squirrels, the pigeons and the voles.

 

Here, the lesser breeds are but vagrant beggars,

Poaching their subsistence from their larger neighbors,

Trespassers, debtors in a might makes right domain.

Take no prisoners, all each turkey knows, each a Kurtz

Exterminating the brutes: cats, squirrels, pigeons, and voles.

 

Nature’s grace: there such an occupation lasts only one short season,

Ergo each lesser breed’s good reason, to each species its own hope.

Turkey vultures, one day, all take to wing, what’s left can then regain

The terrain each instinctively know is theirs, even the crows,

Restoring the balance of cats and squirrels, pigeons, and voles.

~ Charles Peek

Kearney, Nebraska, April 4, 2017

Charles Peek blogs, writes, and protests from Kearney, Nebraska. His Breezes on the Way to Being Winds won the 2016 Nebraska Award for Poetry. Together with his wife, Nancy, he spends a good deal of time trying to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline form ruining Nebraska’s land, water, and culture.

Pat Daneman has published poems and short fiction in many print and on-line journals. Her most recent work appears in the anthology New Poetry from the Midwest, Moon City Review, Stonecoast Review, Comstock Review and Bellevue Literary Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. After All, her first full-length poetry collection will be published in 2018 by FutureCycle Press.

 

a hermit’s hovel of many mansions,

 

a shimmering silk kimono billowing

on a clothes line in Central Kansas,

 

a meteorite, suddenly fallen in your backyard,

 

a particularly toxic strain of word virus,

 

a flaring moment of clarity in the middle of a moshpit,

 

a tattered travelogue entry written in hobo code,

 

a series of lies that leads (ultimately)

to (something resembling) the truth,

 

a random, haphazard arrangement

of the 10,000 myriad archetypes of the world,

 

a sum of parts that is actually larger

than its whole,

 

an unexpected arrival at reality

via the unwitting disengagement from it,

 

a Chinese puzzle box or Russian nesting doll,

 

an open-air market bazaar in a lost city,

 

or, perhaps it would help if you thought of this

fragile little contraption of memes as a butterfly

flittering the non-Euclidian geometry

of its flight pattern through a forest of wind-chimes,

still glistening with rain from a brief

morning thunder-shower.

~Jason Ryberg

 

Jason Ryberg is the author of twelve books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collections of poems are Head Full of Boogeymen / Belly Full of Snakes (Spartan Press, 2016) and A Secret History of the Nighttime World (39 West Press, 2017). He lives part-time in Kansas City with a rooster named Little Red and a bill goat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.

 

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

I squat behind the plate.

Cole spits sunflower seeds

into the dirt at Bill Russell field.

 

Catching a lefty is hard.

Sometimes his ball moves

down and in.

 

Other times it’s up and out.

Sometimes I got no fucking idea

where it’s headed.

 

30 pitches in, he asks if

I need a break.

I sure as hell as do, but

I’m not about to tell him that.

~Adam Jameson

 

Born and raised in Southeast Kansas, Adam Jameson played linebacker under Larry Garman and studied poetry under Al Ortolani at Pittsburg High School before going on to graduate with a B.A. in History from Pittsburg State University. Over the years he has worked as a house painter, railroad conductor, UPS supervisor and meter reader. He is currently employed as an Estimator for Westar Energy. His work has appeared in HARPThe Little Balkans Review, and To the Stars through Difficulty. His poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His most recent work Ghost Sign was selected as a Kansas Notable book for 2017. He currently lives in rural Pittsburg with his wife Meredith and son Cole.

 

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

     For Tamir Rice, 2002-2014

Beautiful white boy,
freckles like cinnamon,
salutes the camera.
Sign pinned to his shirt:
This boy stands for our flag. 

How can I say

of course he stands,
this morning’s photograph,
whole world his. They kneel for
beautiful black boys,
yesterday’s photographs.

How can I say

if your son played with a toy gun
on his front steps,
a police officer might
call him soldier,
return his salute, drive away.

~Melissa Fite Johnson

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first book of poetry, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Review, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book.  Her poems have appeared in RattleValparaiso Poetry ReviewBroadsided Press, and elsewhere.   Melissa and her husband live with their dog and chickens in Kansas, where she teaches English at her old high school. For more, visit melissafitejohnson.com.

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

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