a lone crow beckons from a cottonwood.
The rest of the murder remains quiet.
The hum of the highway,
grind of the gears I have left behind.
I wish to be alone.
Leave me to the north wind
to probe like a knife for weakness.
Leave me to crows and coyotes
to pick and tear at my flesh.
Leave me to the snow
to bury my bones til spring.
I will live in the sap of oak trees
that will rise and push out old leaves.
I will live in the blooms of bluets,
in V-flights circling over the lake,
in the gobble of a local tom,
in rainfall coursing to the Verdigris.
I am here to stay.
~Kelly W. Johnston
Kelly Johnston, a life-long Kansan, was born in Lawrence in 1955. He has published poems in Mikrokosmos (most recently, “Landmarks” was published in the 2015 issue), The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. His poem, “Trails,” won first place in the Kansas Authors Club District 5 Poetry contest. His poem, “House Sitter,” won first place in the 2011 Kansas Writers Association Poetry contest. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where most of his poetry is inspired.
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.