Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

By accident or design he took his life

and turned Owl Farm to icon, Johnny

Depp and friends shot his ashes into

the sky and swirled them like a flock

of birds or leaflets a ticker tape parade

of ball-drop confetti that came to rest

on aspen meadows, thickets and on

the backs of leaping deer who took

it to the roads and threw themselves

at trucks in throes of actuarial herd-

thinning and very little thought to the

gonzo genius whose ashes rode them

to their own felo de se in headlights

grille and fender mauling endgame.

 

Deer aside, the wake is the thing and

this one was classic HST red white

and blue lit the sky and then the famed

flamed exitus flagrante in preplanned

thundrous salute a single salvo that

said I left the way I lived, out of my

way you bastards and a long cigarette

holder whipped through the night sky

slamming into place on the bear Ursa

Major pointing forever at Polaris the

star that guides lost sailors, writers,

bikers and artists, those voyagers who

step into the unknown with nothing

but their try, their lashed-together

boats of sticks and hubris to float

them all the way to Styx and maybe

who the hell knows, to Elysium.

~ Guinotte Wise

 

Guinotte Wise writes and welds steel sculpture on a farm in Southeast Kansas. His short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won publication by a university press and enough money to fix the soffits. A double Pushcart nominee, his fiction and poetry have been published in numerous literary journals including Atticus, The MacGuffin, Santa Fe Writers Project, Rattle and The American Journal of Poetry. His latest collection of poetry, Horses See Ghosts, was published in 2018. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives 100 miles a day to keep it. Some work is at http://www.wisesculpture.com 

 

James Benger is a father, husband and writer. His work has been featured in several publications. He is the author of two fiction ebooks: Flight 776 (2012) and Jack of Diamonds (2013), and two chapbooks of poetry: As I Watch You Fade (EMP 2016) and You’ve Heard It All Before (GigaPoem 2017). He is a member of the Riverfront Readings Committee in Kansas City, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online poetry workshop and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and son.

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Slow-motion suicide, you might think –– turning away

from shelter freely offered.  It is so cold.

But these are the invisible citizens of a desperate country.

Here time is a disease –– a merciless subtraction

not just of days but of dignity, of usefulness.

A fired oil drum becomes the altar of communion ––

here you may make an offering of what you were,

what you are not, what you never will be.

The cold steals your name, replaces your soul ––

The remembered sun alone promises salvation.

Surely spring will return and it will be ours.

Surely spring will return and we will be whole.

 

You and I walk up Michigan on a night

brutal even for so late in December.

On the museum steps, the lions –– a dying species

wreathed in strange celebration –– stare at our passing.

~ Michael Lasater

Hutchinson native Michael Lasater is Professor of New Media at Indiana University South Bend. With degrees from Oberlin, Juilliard, and Syracuse University, he has performed with ensembles including the Metropolitan Opera, produced documentaries on poetry, and currently exhibits art video internationally. His poetry has appeared in Kansas Time + Place.

James Benger is a father, husband and writer. His work has been featured in several publications. He is the author of two fiction ebooks: Flight 776 (2012) and Jack of Diamonds (2013), and two chapbooks of poetry: As I Watch You Fade (EMP 2016) and You’ve Heard It All Before (GigaPoem 2017). He is a member of the Riverfront Readings Committee in Kansas City, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online poetry workshop and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and son.

–farmer–/’farm r/n 1: a person

who pays a fixed sum for some privilege

or source of income 2: a person who cultivates land

or crops or raises livestock 3: YOKEL, Bumpkin —

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1981

 

He parks right out front

where his neighbor’s mud

has hardened

onto the asphalt,

and walks

straight to the bank’s thick glass

door. The door is placed

to reflect everyone’s image,

and the farmer sees his T-shirt

is untucked. The door is easy

to open. It shouldn’t matter.

The banker is his friend,

and behind a plowshare-styled smile

that can’t break crust,

he welcomes the farmer

with interest. They both fake it.

A mystic, the banker pulls

his pile of paper, from somewhere,

and begins to read the future.

The farmer is afraid,

and imagines himself swallowed

by the chair that holds him.

He is paying for his life

with his life. He leaves

the building with the mystic’s fee

printed on pink, and feels the stiffness

of the concrete

move into his knees,

proving that he is not ageless.

~ Greg German

Originally Published Kansas Quarterly, 1993 V.24, #4

Greg German was born and raised near Glen Elder, in north central Kansas, where he farmed with his family for many years. He currently lives in Kansas City, Kansas, with his wife Regina and son, Alden. He is a private consultant specializing in web site development, special project consulting, and photography. (www.limestone9consulting.com) He holds a B.A. degree in English/Creative writing and a B.S. in Education from Kansas State University.  Greg developed and maintains www.kansaspoets.com — a website unique to Kansas Poets. Greg’s poetry and personal essays have appeared in over 50 literary journals across the U.S.

James Benger is a father, husband and writer. His work has been featured in several publications. He is the author of two fiction ebooks: Flight 776 (2012) and Jack of Diamonds (2013), and two chapbooks of poetry: As I Watch You Fade (EMP 2016) and You’ve Heard It All Before (GigaPoem 2017). He is a member of the Riverfront Readings Committee in Kansas City, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online poetry workshop and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and son.

The grass always knows when it’s gone.

It sometimes holds drops on its forehead,

on the straight passes of its arms. This is when

you should flex a few stray branches. See which

ones are worthy to be tucked in. Dig deep

in your pockets and kneel to the ground. This is how

I’ve seen men do it. Some keep tinder in a small

metal box, already warmed from pressing into their skin.

Others keep it in their fingers, in the bowls of their palms,

the small folds of their lips. It, always warm to the touch,

makes the next part easy. Use your hands to feed the flame,

to warm the spots that need It and the ones that don’t.

Cup your hands around it and breathe deeply.

And if it asks you to keep going, listen.

~ Julie Ramon

Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband, son and daughter.

Guest Editor Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review, and others. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.

You did not believe that red cedars could

transform themselves explosively into flame:

an earthly form of transubstantiation

 

(“Forgive me, Father,” you say, as you think

that thought); that you would cut fences, praying

your cattle might outrun the torrent of fire,

that your truck’s headlights would flare like

molten lava, that flames would jeté

over roads, over dozer-scraped pasture,

 

that fickle winds would conspire to find new fuel

for fire, that you would find haven at last in new

winter wheat, slight and green and beneath the flame’s

 

fierce notice, fenced by walls of black smoke, by

skeletal trees clutching at the sky for relief,

by stars gone dizzy with hot air and soot,

 

that God would wait until your faith began

to smolder, to crisp around its edges,

before finally bestowing the benison of rain.

~ Roy J. Beckemeyer

—The Anderson Creek wildfire burned nearly 400,000 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma in March, 2016.

Roy J. Beckemeyer was President of the Kansas Authors Club from 2016-2017. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was recognized as a Kansas Notable Book. His new chapbook of ekphrastic poems, Amanuensis Angel, is out from Spartan Press (2018).

Guest Editor Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review, and others. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.

Born without arms, disarmed,

you ached like a broken-handled

wheelbarrow. You hammered at doors

like a bloody fist. You explored the forests

like a jackhammer walked back and forth

until the leaves were pulp.

 

You call them down from the heavenly stores,

two, gray and oiled and tense with springs,

long enough to hang just past your hips.

You call them down from the Great Assortment,

the racks and racks of choices. Strap them on

like ordnance. Swing them in your swagger.

 

A completed birth, a checked task,

you’re a wheelbarrow full of rubble.

You’re a rusted hammer in the corner,

electric with waiting. You punch holes

in the air with the noise of a jackhammer

until you suffocate in your mad work.

~ Gregory Stapp

Gregory Stapp received his BA from the University of Oklahoma and his MFA from queens University of Charlotte. His poems have appeared in Lime Hawk Journal, Shot Glass, The Ekphrastic Review, and Forage, among others. He recently served as the Poetry editor for Qu: A Literary Magazine.

Guest Editor Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review, and others. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.

After dinner we have cherry pie.

We are four people from three continents.

 

The pie, thick with red, butter

crust: we are sure some old woman made it.

 

My friends say French and German

with some ease. The cherries burst under fork.

 

We drink tall glasses of iced tea

made with cool water from the kitchen tap.

 

We have come to live on the plains.

The town festival with a European name offers pie today.

 

George Washington, cherry pie, pure

dumb luck to be born in this country, and deliberate movement.

 

What must you be born to

to go out on the land against the oil machine?

 

You must love the water like life

to tie yourself to the digging machine that doesn’t stop

 

even with thin court orders. You must

know the earth is not yours to give while others

 

train dogs to tear at strangers, loose dogs trained

to tear human skin.

 

The blood on the dogs’ mouths is human blood.

 

All over America while folks sit down to dinner,

the blood on the dogs’ mouths is the human blood of water protectors.

 

Breathe through your nose not your mouth.

[Cry liiiiiiii if you still have the bloody red heart to cry it.]

#nodapl

~ Laura Lee Washburn

Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women. (This poem originally published at The New Verse News https://newversenews.blogspot.com/2016/09/blood-on-dogs-mouth.html.)

Guest Editor Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review, and others. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.

 

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