Rain and Wet — by Laura Lee Washburn

I’ve pulled up the mint by the roots

that was crowding the iris.  I’ve pulled

up the oregano down to its roots, the oregano

that crowds the iris, the chives,

and the lily.  The basement has water

 

in places I’ve rarely seen, rivulets

blown by high-powered fans.  The sump

at least is working, dehumidifier

filling, too.  Did you know the shop vac spits

like a squirt gun when near full?

 

The dog’s paws are wet when we come into the house.

The back stairs are dirty and damp with our mess.

The oregano and the mint are littering the yard.

In Texas hill country, in Oklahoma, too,

the creeks are overflowed, the lake past

its spillway, fourth time in this history.

 

They say the scent of grass or mint

when cut or pulled is screaming, is warning

the other grass and mints nearby.  The air

is full of mint.  The air is full of oregano.

 

The basement is full of water, and the

damp will sound its destruction in dank

and rot and gathering molds until

we suffer the heat and the stink and wilt

of the evercoming unbelievable summer.

~ Laura Lee Washburn

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 as TheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso ReviewHarbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.

August Co-Editor and Past Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019) Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks and chairs the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. He has twelve books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s and Liberal Arts & Sciences Awards for Research and Creativity, and he is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry.

August Co-Editor Linzi Garcia can be found frolicking through fields, cemeteries, and bars across the states, gathering poetry along the way. She recently received her MA in English at Emporia State University, where she served as the assistant to Former Poet Laureate of Kansas Kevin Rabas and to Bluestem Press. Her first poetry collection, Thank You was published by Spartan Press (2018), and her co-written chapbook Live a Great Story was published by Analog Submission Press (2019). She is always looking to invest time in new places where she can absorb new perspectives.

Surfeit — By Linda M. Lewis

How many watercolor

sunsets are sufficient?

Does a human get her fill

of ocean chant, lilac scent,

seeds of dandelion skydiving

by silk parachute, robins

preening orange breasts?

I have counted blackbirds

perched on power lines like

children queued for recess.

Admired glistening chain

mail on rainbow trout.

Sauntered under leafy

canopies on pine-needle

cushioned paths. Captured

snowflakes on my tongue,

insects in my hair. As remedy

for humdrum days, make

your house green. That’s

my prescription.

~ Linda M. Lewis

Linda M. Lewis, professor emerita of Bethany College, earned a PhD in British literature and has published four books of literary criticism (University of Missouri Press). Her recent work, Ensemble (Spartan Press, 2019), is a collection of poems that celebrate woman’s experience and narrate female lives—both famous and infamous. This poem contained an allusion to The Sunday Tertulia, a novel by Lori Marie Carlson. This poem was originally published in The Sea Letter, October, 2018.

June Editor Bio: Ramona Vreeland McCallum is the author of a collection of poetry entitled Still Life with Dirty Dishes (Woodley Press, 2013). She earned her MFA from UMKC in 2017 and her Master of Arts in Teaching from KSU in 2018. She lives in Garden City, Kansas where she teaches 5th grade English Language Arts and co-parents six children with her husband, Brian McCallum. For June’s poems, Ramona selected work whose avian and weather imagery convey metaphoric and dichotomous themes of restlessness & peace, anxiety & security, and which communicate the power of presence when reflecting on the past and looking toward the future.

Sounds — By Ramona Vreeland McCallum

This morning I sit

on the edge of the bed.

The calm black lab Lucy

asleep beside me,

dregs of my first

cup of coffee

on the bedside table

among containers

of lotion, lip balm,

melatonin

 

and out the window,

sounds:

 

The hospital a block away

groans with grinding machinery.

What are they burning now

or cleaning? How much longer?

It’s already been

forever…

 

But that’s not

what I want

you to hear.

 

Focus

on the tree

in the backyard, taller

than the house.

It’s spring and the tree’s

all dressed up

in new leaves,

so we can’t see the birds

in there among the branches.

 

Though we can hear their chirps resound

between us and the incessant, mechanical roar—

like strokes of color

on gray canvas full

of clouds.

 

Let’s get up

continue the day,

blending our way

among these sounds.

~ Ramona Vreeland McCallum

Ramona Vreeland McCallum is the author of a collection of poetry entitled Still Life with Dirty Dishes (Woodley Press, 2013). She earned her MFA from UMKC in 2017 and her Master of Arts in Teaching from KSU in 2018. She lives in Garden City, Kansas where she teaches 5th grade English Language Arts and co-parents six children with her husband, Brian McCallum. For June’s poems, Ramona selected work whose avian and weather imagery convey metaphoric and dichotomous themes of restlessness & peace, anxiety & security, and which communicate the power of presence when reflecting on the past and looking toward the future.

Election 2016 — By Charles Peek

In my dream, we are driving at night

through a hard rain on a country road.

 

At each crossing we come to, the waters seem deeper,

until we come finally to a section where we can’t go any further,

where what is in back of us seems worse now

than when we were there,

where we can’t see a way ahead and begin to feel the road

shifting beneath us,

and we aren’t sure what to do next or how the hell we got here

in the first place

and we hope for any solid ground that holds some promise

of preventing us from drifting helplessly away,

of supporting us amidst whatever it is

the water has already carried away

in the dark.

~ Charles Peek

Charles Peek blogs, writes, and protests from Kearney, Nebraska. His Breezes on the Way to Being Winds won the 2016 Nebraska Award for Poetry. Together with his wife, Nancy, he spends a good deal of time trying to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline form ruining Nebraska’s land, water, and culture.

June Editor Bio: Ramona Vreeland McCallum is the author of a collection of poetry entitled Still Life with Dirty Dishes (Woodley Press, 2013). She earned her MFA from UMKC in 2017 and her Master of Arts in Teaching from KSU in 2018. She lives in Garden City, Kansas where she teaches 5th grade English Language Arts and co-parents six children with her husband, Brian McCallum. For June’s poems, Ramona selected work whose avian and weather imagery convey metaphoric and dichotomous themes of restlessness & peace, anxiety & security, and which communicate the power of presence when reflecting on the past and looking toward the future.

 

On the Edge of the Story — By Julie Sellers

There, in the distance,

rushing inexorably onward,

a gray-clad forward guard

charges across the plains.

Skin tingles with a rumbled warning,

a timpani crescendo

crashing without and within.

An electric tension perfumes the air,

an uncompromising will-o’-the wisp

playing hide and seek amongst the clouds,

calling hearts against their will.

And as the first drops

raise dusty whispers,

there is no retreat,

no option other

than to wait

for the inevitable collision

to bring new life

or ravage this one.

~ Julie Sellers

Julie Sellers: An Associate Professor of Spanish at Benedictine College, Julie Sellers has twice been the overall prose winner of the Kansas Voices Contest. She has published in Kansas Time + Place, The Write Launch, Kanhistique, and New Works Review. Her third academic book, The Modern Bachateros, was published in 2017 (McFarland).

June Editor Bio: Ramona Vreeland McCallum is the author of a collection of poetry entitled Still Life with Dirty Dishes (Woodley Press, 2013). She earned her MFA from UMKC in 2017 and her Master of Arts in Teaching from KSU in 2018. She lives in Garden City, Kansas where she teaches 5th grade English Language Arts and co-parents six children with her husband, Brian McCallum. For June’s poems, Ramona selected work whose avian and weather imagery convey metaphoric and dichotomous themes of restlessness & peace, anxiety & security, and which communicate the power of presence when reflecting on the past and looking toward the future.

Hometown — By Janet Jenkins-Stotts

A narrow nest,

fled as soon as

fledged, but flight

alone, never enough.

 

Faltering return.

Wingbeat found

in the familiar.

Venturing forth again,

 

Seeking wider skies,

Full of sudden swoops

And spirals, rising

And falling Intentionally.

~ Janet Jenkins-Stotts

Janet Jenkins-Stotts’s poems have been published in Kansas Voices, Konza Journal, River City Voices, Dash, Passager and the Swedish underground journal, “Devote.” She lives in Topeka, KS. with her husband and their min-pin, Romeo. stottsjanet@gmail.com

June Editor Bio: Ramona Vreeland McCallum is the author of a collection of poetry entitled Still Life with Dirty Dishes (Woodley Press, 2013). She earned her MFA from UMKC in 2017 and her Master of Arts in Teaching from KSU in 2018. She lives in Garden City, Kansas where she teaches 5th grade English Language Arts and co-parents six children with her husband, Brian McCallum. For June’s poems, Ramona selected work whose avian and weather imagery convey metaphoric and dichotomous themes of restlessness &peace, anxiety & security, and which communicate the power of presence when reflecting on the past and looking toward the future.

Reasons — by Dawne Leiker

Without fail, each August, I stop to wonder
why my great grandparents stayed here,
Where ruts crack beneath the
crisps of weeds
And only bindweed dares to thrive.
Tough, stern-faced, they battled the earth
to coax seeds into grains,
while black “Dust Bowl” blizzards choked
hot curses from their mouths.

They must have had their reasons.
Maybe the charlatans, strange ways,
or ill fit of the world outside
corralled them back to the familiar.
Where roots and worms tangle
in living earth.
Where locusts raise metallic songs
to a cloudless ocean of sky.
Where sunset’s red glow
exhales their timeless breath.

Today the August breeze cools my skin.
The sun is not a searing enemy.
I search the ground for cracks and find
velvety grass and globs of spongy earth.
I kneel on the green space where I see
ground uncracked and breathing a promise.

I imagine their fallen bones,
buried in the Lone Star graveyard,
my ancestors’ dust blended with ancient dirt.
Would they feel my hands
digging in fragrant soil?
Feel the weight of me
tethered where they settled?

For one brief summer, drought
is never spoken.
This land seems friendly,
a place to be touched.
But I know well enough,
ditches shining with puddles will not last.
Soon after barren clouds tease the horizon

I’ll see cracks checker through
the drying weeds, where sky meets earth
on a straight-ruled line.

Today, though. Today, I press mud, fat
against the roots of basil and mint.
Touch the promise of
impatiens’ purple blooms.
Listen for the distant thunder.
Listen, like my forbearers, for the rustle
of crops on the vast rippling plains.
Cling to the hope of rain-bearing clouds.
Unpack the reasons to leave,
bury them deep beneath the busted sod.

Dawne Leiker is a former journalist, now working in academia. Her news/feature stories have appeared in The Hays Daily News, Lawrence Journal World, and several online publications. Her poetry and short stories have garnered awards in regional and statewide literary competitions. Ms. Leiker’s fiction and poetry often are influenced by her past news story interviews, as she develops and re-imagines fictional characters and situations loosely based on local individuals and events.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

Kiddie Pool Baptismal — by Cameron Morse

My feet dunked, I float
my Crocs, nurse

the spilt in my head
with trips to the spigot.

Heal me, sweet
mother, if you think

I’m worth it. Bless
the inventor

of water and one more
way to withstand

the summer.
Jungle cat rugs

of heat piled plush
on my chest,

I pluck off my T-shirt
and squeeze

rainbows out of a spray-bottle.
Theo empties cups

over my kneecaps, raising
the dark waterline

of soaked denim.
The more I resist the pastoral,

the greater
my urge to pastor.

 

This poem first appeared in The Gravity of the Thing.

 

Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His second, Father Me Again, is available from Spartan Press. Chapbook Coming Home with Cancer is forthcoming in Blue Lyra Press’s Delphi Poetry Series.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

Viernes Santo, León, 1997 — by Julie Sellers

I stand
precariously
watching the Passion
from atop this narrow wall.
I teeter,
wedged beside a portly matron
casting suspicious glances
at this blonde foreigner
who dared to ascend
for just a glimpse
of the pageantry
and solemnity
intermingled in the plaza below.
Somber music;
swaying penitents
in crimson robes
and conical black hoods;
the heavy scent of so many flowers,
bright against the ancient stone walls.
Christ crucified,
La Dolorosa looks on
as the faithful lower
His broken body.
Silence.
Tears.
I find my arm around my neighbor’s waist,
hers around mine,
holding each other safe,
bound by something
that transcends all else.

 

An Associate Professor of Spanish at Benedictine College, Julie Sellers has twice been the overall prose winner of the Kansas Voices Contest. She has published in Kansas Time + Place, The Write Launch, Kanhistique, and New Works Review. Her third academic book, The Modern Bachateros, was published in 2017 (McFarland).

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

To one and several poets: — by Michael Lasater

To one and several poets:

 

“… a hundred little devices …”
– Jim Wayne Miller (I Have a Place: The Poetry of Jim Wayne Miller)

 

I read some of your poems again today –
first those colossal pieces with the hangman, the stars,
and the shroud – then the one where you rhyme the girl
to bed in a thicket thorned with sweet grief
and roses wild and red.

Really nice.

Through a teacup crack you escape down to the climbing,
plunging sea. Splendidly abroad, you wire back:
THE PLANTAGENETS ARE DONE FOR! IF ONLY THEY HAD LISTENED!
On your speaking tour you drink the Pacific dry,
and wow an army of contract bridge players
by conjuring a trick on the spot – a sestina no less –
six words breathing life, love, death.

You sing a wizard mist damp with the tears
of blowsy barmaids and part-time lovers,
some of whom may actually have known you and provided, at least,
the gift of an idea, some tiny salvation you shrewdly
invest for profit on tomorrow’s always empty page.

Magician, jongleur, troubadour –
you are wonderful.

And yet, I cannot follow you.

I come from a place where words have abandoned language,
where crows have become priests, trees no longer
can shed their leaves, and the sky itself has been set
on fire. All the old rituals have given way
to a new, bloodless communion, the sanctification of indifference.

Poetry lives hard here.
Everything tastes of copper.

It grows late.

I open a window to let the day just past
out into the night. Down the block
I can hear the voices of children playing after dinner –
double double this this –
double double that that –

some tiny salvation.

 

Hutchinson native Michael Lasater is Professor of New Media at Indiana University South Bend. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, Juilliard, and Syracuse University, he has performed with ensembles ranging from the Ringling Bros. Circus Band to the Metropolitan Opera, produced nationally distributed video documentaries on poetry and music, and currently exhibits art video internationally. His poetry has appeared in Kansas Time + Place, Heartland!, Cathexis Northwest Press, and The Heartland Review, where he is the winner of the 2019 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).