Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, KS on 12/02/2019

Where does your belief come from?
 
From the past being brought to the future
from the here & now
being unapologetically myself
trying to be the truest form of me
realizing that I am stronger than I know
 
so much stronger than I ever thought possible
exceeding even my own expectations
 
stay true to yourself
 
but is there still meaning
in that, or has it become
cliché?
 
Because the only difference
between a groove & grave
is the depth




 

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.

Highland Park High School in Topeka, KS on 11/25/2019

I.

Who are you talking to today & how are they?

My future and it’s looking bright
brighter than the sun
& stronger than the waves
 
the waves crashing all around me
I feel that it will one day pull me under
&  let me drown
 
I feel like if I’m drowning in thought
without a second to stop
when I stop there would be
emptiness
 
I would be happy but I wouldn’t be myself
& if I’m not myself
happiness isn’t important
 
II.
 
How do you let thing go?
 
By walking away
or ignoring
the issue
or by bottling
my emotions
 
open that bottle
& spew out
all of your feelings
 
but make sure you’re
in the right place first
think very carefully
on where those emotions
are coming from
but let your emotions
be natural
 
you can’t solve anything
running away

or else
they will control you
control what you feel
or why you should
like their puppet
 
dancing sadly
as you dangle
from the thick strings
 
this is not the life, but
 
tugs of war
tears in hearts
pulls from peers
as they trace
our tears
 
our eyes miss nothing
our breath releases all




 
 

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.

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.

Robinson Middle School in Topeka on 11/15/2019

Tai Amri Spann-Ryan’s students

I.
 
I always want to be
the best I can be
but sometimes it’s hard
to always stay positive
& to keep your head up
to always think about wonderful things
 
Life is different for everyone
maybe we can sit under the stars
& think about how we are
all special in this world
cool & brave
 
My life is awesome & cool everyday
I want to be safe wherever I go
there will be a show
that I go to & roar
I go to an orchard
 
II.
 
One day I will find
one soul that will join me
OOGA BOOGA
 
Join me on the road
lighten up the soul
with a smile that is
so full
 
I will find flowers




 

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.

Aaron Douglas Art Fair in Topeka on 9/28/19

Surrounded by art,
smoking grills, misty tents
& Tennessee town ghosts.

Rainfalls as mist
& I’m reminded of Seattle
as people run from the weather.

I almost never carry an umbrella,
even if people tell me,
I’ll need one.

Umbrellas in the desert
are mocking the sky;
Seattle is always wet.

I ran away,
I ran away to you,
to those eyes &
to those hands.

My breathing stops.
If only I could start my
faltering heart. Which
beats only for you.
Always for you.

For strength is relative,
goals found are fought differently,
then the goals still looked for.

The beating is faster when found
slowed to nothing. ‘Till.
‘Till.



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.

Ellen Plumb City Bookstore in Emporia on 9/06/19

That night, my heart
like drumbeats.
Your heart , like
Winter glass, clear
frost-rime-fragile.
Delicate, strong, precious
frost on my heart;
the beat slows.

Winter:
Death of nature.
Death of our love.

Yet still, somehow we carry on.
Never knowing how strong
we had to be, until we were
there, facing this, our own
stopping of the heart.

My heart, held in the hand
of an Inca lord, who reached 
into my chest, in the midst 
of an ayahuasca vision.

My head fell back as I
sunk more deeply into
the vision. My heart
glowed in his hand
-swollen with love.

Exhausted, long week,
will it get better?
Not anytime soon.

Floorboards creak beneath
the calloused feet
& lights flicker above
a war torn head.

Mango juice drips down
my hands on hilltop highs
as fight to get the spills
sweetness on my tongue.

Strawberries on my knees,
memories blooming as I feast,
childhood romps in green grass,
grubby hands holding
blood-red berries.

Ravenous, some might say,
but I do not see it that way.
I should not apologize for what
others have had in their time.

So devour, if it pleases, Mango
on the lips. Sweetness on the mind.
In this community– we share,
we support, we cheer
each other on.







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.

NOTO Burrito in Topeka on 9/04/2019

Speak Easy Poetry Open Mic (6th anniversary)

Small sliver in a grey river
shrivel and shiver, trampled,
please deliver  us warmth
if just for a moment,
if you would
 
Drench with comfort,
dry with love, only
for a moment, only
if you could.
 
I’ll get your weak wisping
hair from my eye
when I take the blade
to my scalp & shave 
from myself my need
for a better me
for you
 
you will see
 
The truth in your eyes
my love in your heart
 
Someday will be far away
but now —now is most precious
for new beginnings
there is no other time
 
In this moment, we are
finding ourselves anew,
changing
evolving
discovering
who we are together
in this world of individuality
 
Lines blur
emotions blend
and identities meld
as we all change
we lose and gain
 
Gain love, lose friends
growing and aging is
who we are, as humans
 
Safety no matter the cost
 
We lose a lot and gain a lot
but love is always around
I want to love you guy’s a lot
even the people I don’t know
 


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.

HOWL in Lawrence at The Bottleneck on 8/28/2019

May your words be safely perched in the bars as bones
that hold us upright. May you free them as sparrows.

And may they return to you fuller, more vibrant; and free.
Free to begin building. You see, you can’t migrate unless you

can create your own home. We make houses from our own
bones, moving freely from place to place, creating safe havens

in the spaces around us. About Face. Like a Phoenix from ashes. Brass taxes is playing “Taps” for Civs. Be the change you want to see at knifepoint.

Myrna birds peering behind the trashcan. Eating the disposed,
the very things no one found value for.

I am not to be consumed or repurposed or recycled. Throw me
in compost. Let me be flower. Let me be aroma. Let me be color.

Let me be beauty. I wanted to turn wasted moments into outside
galleries. Where art is life and life mimics absolutely anything I am.

My truth is beautiful. I have been trash. I still am beautiful.
Pick me like a daisy stuck in the crevice of a sidewalk you walk down daily.

Don’t ignore me. See that, I don’t belong here. But here I am.
Rising out of the slab, the cold gray indifference.

I am color. I am life. Pick me.

 

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.