Benedictine College in Atchinson, KS on 11/19/19

Where do you go for words?
Where do you go for meaning?
 
Sometimes meaning hides,
like burning stars silenced behind
the lights of the city
 
like a child, waiting to unveil a secret
entrusted to her care
wanting to take hold of it, but knowing
if I grasp it, it will break
 
words flow around us
like water or wind
 
the raucous screams of crows
like the faceless mouths calling for
the death of the battered prize fighter
 
one thousand joined in a single voice
joined in a single, solid song
but I’m afraid to venture in the dark attic
& reach for them, afraid
I will get lost in those words
 
Lost at a grocery store
 —alone

My mother,
one aisle over
 
My heart is a lemon in my mouth
not sweet enough to savor nor
sour enough to make me cry
 
& what to do with this other than
reject it—to spit it out
 
I swallow
 


Exquisite corpse: (from the French term cadavre exquis), A method by which a collection of words or images are collectively assembled. I collected these poems as I traveled through Kansas. These poems are written collectively by Kansans at readings, open mics and workshops. The titles of each poem are the locations and dates where they were assembled. They are part of Exquisite Kansas, a collection to be published at the end of my laureateship.

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