grain-dust covers all when hard winter-red is cut.
The combines chew lanes, the trucks have no wings
yet fly over gravel. This year’s wheat was chest-
deep on the young men whose faces are now dust
covered. They rent rooms without clothes-cabinets,
small town antiquated tourist cabins: men
who will not turn home till winter. Feathers
of the pigeons are dirt-colored. Dust-gray eggs
in the nest now, and the birds almost tumble
as they swoop to peck up spilled kernels. Terraces
step foreign fields but here flatness reigns and you
watch the birds soar over heat-baked fields through
the sun’s bright day. They absorb June so that January
will not cut so deep. They will move south later, yo-yo
back with spring, desperate gray against the white clouds.
~ Roy Beckemeyer
A Golden Shovel poem inspired by Liz Berry’s “Birmingham Roller”
Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016.
Guest Editor Denise Low, second Kansas Poet Laureate, has published over 20 books of award-winning poetry and essays, including Ghost Stories (Woodley) and Natural Theologies, essays about Mid-Plains literature (Backwater Press). Low was visiting professor at the University of Richmond and Kansas University. She taught at Haskell Indian Nation University, where she founded the creative writing program. She served Associated Writing Programs as board president. She and her husband Thomas Pecore Weso publish Mammoth Publications.