How our rooster taught me to love? ~Amirah Al Wassif

My father picked me up with one hand.
Even I could touch God's throne.
I laughed so hard.
I laughed until I lost my voice.
I call my father Mr. Rooster.
He isn't a real rooster
And, of course, I am not a little hen.
Our identities prove that.
Yes, we are human.
In our Arabian Nights,
The rooster has a prominent place.
He is a storyteller
Just like my father.
As a little kid,
My Mother hung me
In her ears like a star. 
Shiny ones.
She taught me how to weave
A fairytale around
The waist of the universe.
We were playing drums
During baking bread.
Our dusty faces before our stove,
The birds pecking our napes.
Many delicious stories
Float through our bodies.
I am a verse hovering over the air.
My mother's scent enfolds
The horizon.
Our rooster starts telling us
How the ancient Queens and Kings
Revealed the secret of embalming.
We are in love with braiding
Our grandmother's hair.
Me, my father and my mother,
Fighting against the pain.
We dissolve our salty tears
In a glass of sugar and wine.



Amirah Al Wassif’s poems have appeared in print and online publications including South Florida Poetry, Birmingham Arts Journal, Hawaii Review, The Meniscus, The Chiron Review, The Hunger, Writers Resist, Right Now, and others. Amirah’s poetry collection includes, For Those Who Don’t Know Chocolate (Poetic Justice Books & Arts, 2019) and a children’s book, The Cocoa Boy and Other Stories.

November Editor, Ronda Miller was state President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018 – 2019. Miller has three full-length books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns, and a chapbook, Winds of Time. Miller’s first children’s book, I Love the Child, was published 12/13/2020. The book’s illustrator is Katie Wiggins, a found cousin. I Love the Child won first place for The Children’s Book Award at the Kansas Authors Club State Convention, October 2020.

butcher rack by Cei Loofe

 i wanna be a boy!
 that’s what i told every ‘old lady’ 
 that came to play bridge with my grandmother. 
 they would smile…
 ruffle my hair and say
 ‘you are cute honey, but you’re a girl.’
 and they were right. 
 i was cute.
 saddle leather tanned
 feathered with incorrigible
 able to fly with a wing span imagination wide 
 i ran shirtless, chest first into everything i could
 i would be cowboy, riding propane tanks all the way to dallas
 and building callouses on my hands from swinging on the kill rack
 long into the night
 washing the blood off before i came in.
 by the time i was seven i knew the meaning of sin.
 i didn’t know wanting to be a priest
 instead of a nun qualified
 so i lied after grandma’s disapproving glance
 and her suggestion i find a better habit. 
 i can still say mass, word for word. 
 i heard all her all their admonitions
 shame on you, young lady.
 wore the blouses they put me in
 my hair held perfect ringlet curls
 i became the precious i was expected to be
 and somewhere in the process
 i lost me. 
 my skin became pale.
 my feathers fell.
 i was no longer able to fly.
 the callouses left my hands, 
 i hung from the rack by a rope.
 long into the night. 
 but with a foothold, not a noose
 wishing to wash off who i had become,
 begin again, in new skin.
 two thousand  ‘what if’s’ and hundreds of ‘why not’s’ later
 i grew courage-gained new feathers sprouted in confidence blue.
 my arms stretched hallelujah-finally wide and i began to fly. 




Cei Loofe writes and makes art in Seward, NE with an ASL speaking dog and a quad of stone flipping fish. Loofe spent 25 years as a free-lance journalist before switching to creative writing. Since, he has been included in several anthologies and has been published three times independently.

November Editor, Ronda Miller was State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018 – 2019, Miller has three full length books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain and WaterSigns and chapbook Winds of Time. Miller’s first children’s book, I Love the Child, was published 12/13/2019. The book’s illustrator is Katie Wiggins, a found cousin. I Love the Child, won first place for The Children’s Books Award at the Kansas Authors Club State convention, October, 2020.

Creative Collaborations at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library in Topeka, KS on 1/4/2020

Creativity gives me community
voices pushed by the voices
of my ancestors– love
 
creativity allows a clear mind
kindness in my life
don’t judge me but feel me
 
creativity gives me freedom of spirit
we are better together than apart
purpose
 
passion with purpose = power
 
we are shaped by what we create
we create what we hold in our heart
 
creativity lets you express
your soul to the world
 
creativity is the expression derived
from the internal collaboration
of the two selves
 
your voice is you power
to live a creative truth
words become wings that
give birth to the future
 
I dream of a day when all are
equal & live without fear
 
thankful for moments to reflect, now onto
reality; nephew’s memorial service,
post suicide
 
Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you
become your reality or define you
don’t go looking for evidence that you
don’t belong
 
be willing to uplift others
leaders are created
when you teach others
how to lead




 

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.

Pratt High School in Pratt on 11/28/2019

Where has all the summer gone?
 
The summer was sweet
The summer was salty
Long days full of laughter
Joy was evident under the hot sun
Joy is summer, summer holds beauty
beauty is a blessing
 
The summer turns dark
Cold and desperate
 
The summer will vanish & leave
but will always find its way back
to us
although summer is where bellowing heat
resides, there are also relenting, rosy tides
& in those times I think
do my friends really love me?
They never seem to call me
 
The sun rises the sun falls
but why do my friends never call
even when I call them
they still don’t talk to me
 
So instead, I speak to the sky,
the sun, the clouds, stars, moon
& all the galaxies in between
that stop & listen as I spill
my heart like rain
 
An aching like no other
why must I continue to
exist in pain for the
benefit of those who
don’t care
 
to their senses
understand
how the world is
& can be
 
the sunlight ripped away
now there is no light
I can’t see where
I was or should be

I sat there with nothing
empty  inside
I’ve decided I can no longer hide
there’s so many words stuck
in this mind of mine
for we, the children of mankind
teeter on the brink, between
fear and success
the fear of fear itself,
withers away the thought of success
 
Someday, maybe, we’ll understand why
all the success consumes our minds
 
But why do our minds crave success
the thing that eats us
inside & out
 
with the consumption of our body.




 
 

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.

Face to Face with a Lizard             by John Dorsey

for Christian Clevenger

 

milkman i wouldn’t worry too much

about the lizards in the couch in my garage

 

just think about your future prom date

wiggling all over your body

 

close your eyes

turn off the lights

 

& call it young love.

 

 

 

John Dorsey is the author of several collections of poetry, including Tombstone Factory (Epic Rites Press), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press), Being the Fire (Tangerine Press) Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Press), and Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press).

 

 

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Planetarium Experiment                     by Denise Low





Fold a map of the heavens in two.

           Find vortex of the Milky Way at midpoint.

The Zodiac meets at equinoxes Aries and Libra—

           Ram tips the Balance.

           At solstice points

                      Devil-Goat distances from Cancer the Crab.

Comets shoot across orbits. And stars:

           Babylonian constellations chase Mayan jungle animals.

           Rayed Peruvian Suns wander Norway.

Pray to gods of gravity to unfold the star map,

           to smoothe creases over a broken sky.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, won Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light: Poems. Other books are Turtle’s Beating Heart, memoir (U. of Nebraska Press)and Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan). She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and other recognition. She teaches in Baker University’s MLA program.

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Mo(u)rning Ghazal              by Shawn Pavey

Heavy rains for the better part of twenty four hours.
The river rises, water overflowing its borders.

Thunder fills everyone standing with dread, but lightning
cracks the air, opens us to all the sky’s murderous powers.

Beside a propane tank behind my studio, at the edge
of an overgrown gravel drive, sway black-eyed Susans and lacy wildflowers.

Strong black coffee punctuates overcast mornings.
Cigarettes are good, too, but I don’t smoke those anymore.

Last week, chatted with an old and dear friend who’s writing a book
on “The History of Reading” that I want to devour.

He told me it’s cancer. He told me the executor of his will
will send me his lifetime’s book collection of analysis and verse.

I do not want my friend to die and neither do I want to end.
I am exhausted from saying goodbye, yet here we are.

shawn pavey

Shawn Pavey is the author of Talking to Shadows (2008, Main Street Rag Press), Nobody Steals the Towels from a Motel 6 (2015, Spartan Press), and Survival Tips for the Pending Apocalypse (Spartan Press, 2019). He is a Co-founder and former Associate Editor of The Main Street Rag Literary Journal, and a former board member and officer of The Writers Place, a Kansas City-based literary non-profit.

~

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Suffering is not a Competition     by Agnes Vojta

There are no judges who weigh

grief against grief,

no trophies for the heaviest burden,

no ribbons for the most deserving despair.

Do not compare.

You must pull

yourself out of the swamp

by your own hair,

declare yourself healed.

There will be no spectators

applauding at the finish line,

no paparazzi snapping,

no journalists waiting

for an interview –

only you

will know

that you’ve made it,

with nothing to show

than your heart still beating.

Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri where she teaches physics and hikes the Ozarks. She is the author of Porous Land (Spartan Press, 2019) and The Eden of Perhaps (Spartan Press, 2020), and her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines. This poem was originally published in Mad Swirl, 2019.

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Palmistry by Jemshed Khan

What did she see

in my hands

upturned to heaven?

Perhaps bats rising

from my palms, swarms

winging into the night.

In the glare

of my smartphone

I Google death

stare at a picture

of an infected Princess

off the coast of Cali.

In the cradle of my hand:

maps of the earth,

red circles rising.

I walk to the sink,

scrub with soap, wash

until water runs clear.

Isolation

I used to cross the street

from my office to see Dad.

We munched on samosas

and forkfuls of biryani.

Sipped chai

and talked Dow Jones.

Now a phone call is all.

“What did you just say?”

I raise my voice, enunciate,

but he still mistakes me

for my brother.

“Oh fine,” he replies,

and then jumbles English

and Urdu

into nonsense.

Once a week I set

a grocery sack

of canned soups, oatmeal,

oranges, bananas, milk

outside his door:

ring the door bell

and head for the car.



Jemshed Khan lives in Kansas City and has published in Heartland 150, I-70 Review, Chiron Review and Coal City Review.

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Wild Edges                                          by Elizabeth Perdomo

I am not meant
for modern civilization,
rectangular box repetition;
garish shops; abhorrent lights.
Jangling distractions, fountain flows
fully regulated in sequence;
colored concrete marine
blue.
Give me wild places,
unfettered waters,
unkempt patches,
wild edges.
Unmowed meadows
& dandelion dotted lawns;
better yet, front yard wildflowers
teaming with bright winged life.
No lifeless trimmed &
sprayed hedge
symmetry.
Rather, life-filled hedgerows,
tangled preserves, secret
conserves, hidden
reserves.
Green forests still
alive with brilliant shadowed
silence;
soft breezes
which whisper
important things which
should & must be
heard.
7 May 2019 – Pharr, Texas

Elizabeth Perdomo at Dallas Museum of Fine Arts

Elizabeth Perdomo, born in Emporia, Kansas, raised in Winfield, has written poetry since a teen. One Turn of Seasons, includes her poetry and another’s photography. Recently, her poems appeared in Kansas Time + Place, Interstice, and The Chachalaca Review. Perdomo now lives in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, sons, and daughter.