Ars Poetica: Kansas           by Robert Stewart

Wind off the prairie makes me want to punch
back at something. It elbows the windows
and nearly killed my dog, Sparky, cracking
a limb off the lady next door’s dead elm
I could barely drag off the drive, dents
in the F-150 but just the bed. Wind
swings the big wooden gate, so lets out
the dog and has the wood fence leaning
northeast, the phone wire, dragging
a cord off a cello all night, getting
into our business. It’s a summer wind
but not like the Sinatra song, from the sea.
It sucker punches into car windows,
so walking along 75th can kill you, Frank.
All summer long, we sing our song,
my wife and I, if cobwebs we call cable
and power grids don’t crash our computers
for once. My wife drives her nails into
my T shirt in the yard, holding on.
“You’re too big to make a dent in,” she says.
A prevailing wail corners the house
and makes me want to take on the beater of time.
A cottonwood seed courses over crops
like a comet. A boxwood leaf karate chops.
No lingering in pools that stand in drains:
rotations, convections, sideways rains.
Someone has opened a job box
of westerly wind and has us leaning,
as we’d been taught, which is into it.

Robert Stewart’s (she/her) latest book of poems is Working Class (2018, Stephen F. Austin State Univ.); his latest collection of essays is The Narrow Gate: Writing, Art & Values (2014, Serving House). For many years, he edited New Letters quarterly, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

About the Guest Editor: Dennis Etzel Jr. (he/him) lives with his spouse Carrie and their five boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has numerous books, including My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015) which was selected by The Kansas City Star as a Best Poetry Book of 2015. His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, FUGUE, Puerto del Sol, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others.


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