play baffling tricks, three circles and back to the beginning. Road signs
anchor the driver with location, false security. Around and around,
the Kansas way is replicated in its waterways and creeks. Here
in the eastern state, three counties host the spider crawl of Stranger
Creek. A car can drive for miles and miles, and suddenly
a familiar sign, Stranger Creek here and there, round and round, pops
ups, no stranger this Stranger Creek. Spanning three counties, it
might be searching, its origin or is it eternal circle? Angry summers
have pulled it out of its rock-shelf borders to make oceans of fields,
fields of oceans. What does this ubiquitous might find? Is Stranger
Creek and stranger to itself, one year this mass of water, one year
choking on dust? The science men say it’s polluted with animal
matter from large farms. Perhaps the creek looks for another time
when it made swimming holes for children too far from towns,
lonely like the creek. Perhaps it smells chemicals now when it once
took the sweet, acrid odor of occasional manure and sent it
farmhouses. Hot by summer day, frozen by winter moons,
this creek has stories to entertain and soothe the soil with its wet,
wet tickle. Stranger Creek, resident of three counties, resides well.
Susan Rieke, S.C.L., Ph.D., is a Professor of English holding the McGilley Chair for Liberal Studies at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas. She has published three books of poetry, Small Indulgences, From the Tower (with Mary Janet McGilley, S.C.L., and Michael Paul Novak), Ireland’s Weather (chapbook), and poems in magazines. She does numerous poetry readings in the greater Kansas City area. Through the Kansas Humanities Council, she has given talks on Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and led book discussions throughout Kansas.
Stephen Meats, recently retired from teaching and administration at Pittsburg State University, is the author of a mixed genre collection of poems and stories, Dark Dove Descending and Other Parables (Mammoth Publications, 2013) and a collection of poems, Looking for the Pale Eagle (Woodley Press, 1993; expanded edition, Mammoth Publications, 2014). His poems, stories, and scholarly writings have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including more than two dozen articles on Whitman, Faulkner, and other writers in The Literary Encyclopedia. He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985. For his guest editorship, in addition to poems with Kansas associations, he asked contributors to submit work dealing with shore birds and water birds, if moved to do so, in recognition of his and his wife Ann’s recent move to Florida.