Letter to Kansas                                                                      by Dennis Etzel, Jr. 

Dear You, today was another rain-filled day   
in the pandemic like all rain-filled days   
but as my family said good luck—two words   
you sealed inside the talk of self-determined    
folks, worriers, and well-wishers—that message   
was overshadowed by darkening clouds.    
Did you hear what those men without masks    
shouted at me throughout Home Depot   
as I did my best to navigate six feet away    
with ten-foot two-by-fours? Maybe I should have    
done my best John Wayne response, pilgrim,    
with my mask of cat prints and rainbows    
muffling me? Is this another test of patience   
to save lives and you? I am still, here,    
for supplies to build an improvement, a better   
home on the range on a land never ceded   
but stolen, even names like yours. Know that  
even I can be moved to grip my circular saw’s thunder.  

Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX ), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press). His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others. Please feel free to connect with him at dennisetzeljr.com.  

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.  

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