We didn’t think we’d make it—that leap
to a boxcar from gravel limestone
edging tracks on bedrock, their ties locked
in solid links that smell of burnt tar
and metal grinding against steel rods.
Jim plans to play a gig there, even
though no one but me knows he’s alive.
Wind twist his hair into knots, and sun-
light ripples across alfalfa fields
to highlight his sweaty back, now black
with soot from the engine throbbing churned
coal wile we move past Kanorado–
head east on these tracks from dusty town
to town. Pawnee ghosts hem the horizon,
and a Quivira chases them.
Just Jim and I see the warriors.
We pray we earn their blessing while we
wave goodbye to yellow-orange cornstalks.
Sunflowers whiz past, a meadowlark
dashes into flight, and fields turn mauve.
While the freight’s whistle echoes stories,
bravado about hippy-nomadic
lives subsides, and we morph from steel
and its hard, cold images of dead
heroes into flesh, pulsing what’s real.
~ Lindsey Martin-Bowen
Lindsey Martin-Bowen, a native Kansan, taught at JCCC. Her Crossing Kansas with Jim Morrison (Paladin Contemporaries 2016) was a semi-finalist (in chapbook form) for QuillsEdge Books 2015-16 contest. A poem in her Inside Virgil’s Garage (chatter House 2013) was nominated for pushcart, and Standing on the Edge of the World (Woodley), was a Top 10 Poetry Books for 2008. New Letters, I-70 Review, Thorny Locust, Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, Amethyst Arsenic, Bare Root Review, Little Balkans Review, and others have run her poems. She teaches at MCC-Longview.
Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and the state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include The Smithsonian Institute. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).