Kansas Mythos by Tara Barley

IMG_0638Bored eyes glance

The declaration of tumultuous histories

Piqued interests breed charm of pride

The life inside a cavum of cardboard boxes

The gather-‘round-sit-down tales

That are duty of elder Kansans to polish-to-shine

These dusty ghosts my child heart investigate

In the haunted house of worn photos and sepia-page news clippings

Stories of our collective childhood

Tell us how our people are survivors.


Stories of silly settlers having faith in the land,

That it be conquered and prosperous

By the sheer cunning of deserving hands

But Job knows the challenges of God’s commands.

The forces of nature will always prevail,

Their footsteps of foundation lie in the rubble of recreation.

Stories of John Brown’s fool’s gold holy grail

Calculates the blood drops needed

To flood the Kaw in Beecher Bible debris

Forever be known as the land of liberation

The home grown fear needed

To birth a nation in war.

Stories of rag faced children starved

But filled too full,

Lungs bare bowls of precious Kansas earth

When the clutch of their mother’s rugged arms weren’t good enough.

There wakes a numbing roar beyond understanding,

This air of the sky with the sun blot out.

Stories of the burial at Burnett’s Mound lies a chief and a curse.

There are rules of the sacred,

Of protection lest it be disturbed

When dismissed then shall they learn

Accustomed destruction invited by manifest construction

See prairie gods of chaos with a modern flare.

Stories to defy the impossible, Midwestern mules

Survivors root in the graveyard path of the American Dream

Bread basket atop of nuclear missile silos and buffalo fossils.

We, the special breed, the elders teach

Connect in the battles of these boxes

And listen as the prairies preach our fables

~ Tara Barley

Tara Bartley is currently a junior at Washburn University in Topeka, KS, majoring in history with a dual minor in English and sociology. This is her first time having a piece professionally published. A lifelong resident of Topeka, Kansas, she is active in its ever-expanding poetry scene as a member and hocker of the Speak Easy Poets.

Guest editor: Annette Hope Billings is an poet/actress/playwright from Topeka, KS, who has written two collections of poetry. In 2015, she stepped away from four decades of nursing to writing full-time and explore where her creative path was leading her. Her most recent collection of poetry, A Net Full of Hope, was published last year and has been well-received, garnering her a readers’ proposed title of “Maya of the Midwest.” For more info about her book:tinyurl.com/anfohbook To view videos of her work: tinyurl.com/anfohvideos To follow her on FaceBook: Facebook.com/anetfullofhope.


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