Someone’s Sister

The last time I bit my brother,
he was nine. I was six. I don’t know why
my furious teeth broke his unsuspecting skin,
but to my disgust, he cried. I reasoned
that he was just nine, that boys cry. But
so unbecoming—loud wails, puffy
eyes—I never bit him again.
He made me cry when I was 16, saying
girls couldn’t drive—couldn’t park
straight, got lost all the time. I clenched
my furious teeth. I bit through my own lip.
I had to learn that when he calls me ‘Sis’
he means, ‘I love you.’ Why
must his ownership be his love?
Once, he pedaled furiously to the corner
house that sent me home crying
in hot anger, biting my tongue.
What did he do
to the boys there? Hit them,
maybe. That’s what boys do
to show they love what’s theirs.

 

Katelyn Roth graduated from Pittsburg State University with her Master’s in poetry. Her work has previously appeared online at Silver Birch Press and at Heartland: Poems of Love, Resistance, and Solidarity. Currently, she lives, works, and writes in Kansas City.

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

Red Rover — by Dawne Leiker

When I picture Alan, it’s with his toes outlined
in silky white sand, stepping into a frothy wave,
just as a slice of sunlight welcomed him
to take one more step. His mom bracing herself
against that same wave. And when she looked again,
Alan was gone. That was all. Just gone. Lost
where eyes cannot distinguish ocean from sky,
From a shore a world away from
the sea of Kansas wheat fields.

That summer after Padre Island
That summer of undertow and loss
we remembered the teenager who
entered seamlessly into our neighbor kid games:
Red Rover, Green Light Red Light, New Orleans
A pale cowlick resisting the order
of his freshly combed hair.
We remembered how he
lit the grassy summer nights.
Strolled easily when Red Rover called him over.

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.

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.

Down Below — by Lori Baker Martin

She’s upstairs and he’s down below
when his hammering begins.
She goes to see 
while the staircase sways
and the mother fox in the spare room
growls over her kits.

Down the hall, the windows 
are open, the curtains flapping, 
spread wide, like sails. 

In the parlor, he’s nailing her best dress 
to the wall, the red one with laces,
and it dances like she did one summer
on the lawn. She remembers
the revolving stars 
and the watchful moon, her power. 

He is heavy as granite, 
eyes like blue marbles,
mouth a curved blade, hammer
hand still raised.

She goes away again.
The mother fox hums, the staircase sways,
out of these doors is an ocean.

Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), The Little Balkans Review, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, and The Maine Review. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin has been awarded for her work in The Cincinnati Review and Kansas Voices.  She is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.

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.

Neighbors — by Melissa Fite Johnson

We played house in her basement.
As mother, Ellie crouched
behind the plastic oven. As father,
I moved to kiss her forehead.
She frowned. You’re doing it wrong.

That year, Ellie’s father visited
the grocery store where
her mother worked. She steered
him to the storage room,
where he shot her dead, then himself.

We switched. As father,
Ellie hoisted a plate over her head,
slammed it to the floor.
As mother, I poured air from
plastic eggs into a red mixing bowl.

(Originally published in Broadsided Press, January 2018)

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. She is also the author of A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky, winner of the 2017 Vella Chapbook Award (Paper Nautilus Press, 2018). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, Sidereal, Stirring, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband and dogs in Lawrence, Kansas. 

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.