Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Archive for the ‘Heartland’ Category

Twelve and a Half Ways of Looking at a Penguin — by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

1

Near our snow condos,

penguins slide across ice.

No ostrich plumes, these birds

wear sleek, Edwardian suits.

 

2

I have always walked like a penguin.

In fact, I was born a penguin long ago

in the days when the ice caps were intact.
3

I slipped into church under knotted skies.

There, the gray day plummeted to black.
4

A man and a woman laugh

at penguin prostitution:

The birds must trade sex

for rocks to build nests.
5

I herringboned up hills

and slid on snowfields.

I pecked through tundra

to unearth pebbles—

and often came up empty.
6

Snow clings to branches

and creates an enchanted

silhouette against a gray

horizon. A penguin strolls

along the coast, searching

for her mate.
7

Dr. Fiona Hunter says penguins

stick with the same mates.

But she adds, “stones are valuable

currency” for them. That

urgency creates reckless hens.
8

Such a day it was—a day

when everything went asunder:

Penguins thundered

and cracked the ice

when a sea lion

raped a penguin hen.

But some of the birds didn’t care.
9

Take that penguin over there

leaning against a snow-wall.

He stares into space

then waddles to a pool

of balloons rising.
10

You grumble about Christmas

and gatherings—

ignore these birds

sliding by us now—ignore

the calls from family.
11

Your words fall

like frogs from your mouth,

and I say the world will end

soon for these penguins

skidding into the blue.
12

Today, these gregarious birds

waddle into politics.

I’d figured they’d march for ecology,

but no—the feathered creatures

fight for civil rights.
12-1/2

I watch a penguin pile stones.

She stops and looks into my eyes.

We do not speak but know.

~ Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Previously published in Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017).

Lindsey Martin-Bowen: 39 West Press released her 4th poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock. Her third, CROSSING Kansas with Jim Morrison (in chapbook form) was a semi-finalist in the QuillsEdge Books 2015-16 contest. A poem from her Inside Virgil’s Garage  (Chatter House 2013) was nominated for a Pushcart, and Standing on the Edge of the World (Woodley), was a Top 10 Poetry Book for 2008 (McClatchy). New Letters, I-70 Review, Thorny Locust, and others have run her work. She taught at MCC-Longview and currently resides in Oregon.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. Other books are a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (U. of Nebraska Press) and A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press). Jackalope, fiction, was acclaimed by Pennyless (U.K.), American Book Review, and New Letters. She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and recognition from PSA, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Award, NEH, and more. Low has an MFA (Wichita State U.) and Ph.D. (Ks.U.). She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. www.deniselow.net

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Excuses for Not Marching and Then a Poem — by Melissa Fite Johnson

1. Dry throat I must coat with water or I’ll cough.

2. Dog-sitting for a friend so she can march.

3. The angry parent who checked Facebook

to confirm I’m a liberal teacher.

 

He might find this poem.

It makes me squirm, the thought he could take

my thoughts from my head. My old professor

always says, It’s easier not to write.

Today, it was easier not to lurch

open the garage, turn the key, thrust myself

into history, into the brave crowd

filling their lungs with songs instead of doubt.

My body won’t speck a grainy photograph.

 

August 28, 1963, a young girl rested

her arm on a rail, her head on her arm. The video

unspools her at “sweltering with the heat of

oppression.” Every phrase was

a lighted match. Each flame passed through her.

 

January 21, 2017, what words, what fire

I could have carried home like a torch.

~ Melissa Fite Johnson

“3 Excuses for Not Marching and Then a Poem,”appeared on New Verse News.

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 have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas. For more, visit melissafitejohnson.com. “Excuses for Not Marching and Then a Poem,” appeared on New Verse News.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. Other books are a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (U. of Nebraska Press) and A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press). Jackalope, fiction, was acclaimed by Pennyless (U.K.), American Book Review, and New Letters. She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and recognition from PSA, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Award, NEH, and more. Low has an MFA (Wichita State U.) and Ph.D. (Ks.U.). She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. www.deniselow.net

Self-defense — by Katelyn Roth

Sharpen your knuckles

with keys and ready the heel of your hand

to crack noses. Knuckles sharp

with keys and the heel of the hand readies

to crack noses. Keys sharpen knuckles;

handheel cracks noses. Knuckles to

noses. Knuckles to noses. Knuckles

to noses. Knuckles to noses. I don’t even like

boxing. I check the backseat

before locking myself in. I hesitate

rolling the trash bin to the curb.

From ages 12-17 I practiced

shimmying tied hands from under my knees

without parting them. Every day

a female friend or relative forwarded the newest

threat—baby crying roadside, flat tires in the mall

parking lot, unattended bar drinks. I hate

the coiled crouch of my body in the dark,

hate my muscles knowing what to do, hate

my expectant resignation, hate

the assault that feels inevitable.

~ Katelyn Roth

Katelyn Roth graduated with her Master’s in poetry from Pittsburg State University. She teaches composition and general literature at Pittsburg State University and Fort Scott Community College. Her work has previously appeared online at Silver Birch Press and at Heartland: Poems of Love, Resistance, and Solidarity.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. Other books are a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (U. of Nebraska Press) and A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press). Jackalope, fiction, was acclaimed by Pennyless (U.K.), American Book Review, and New Letters. She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and recognition from PSA, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Award, NEH, and more. Low has an MFA (Wichita State U.) and Ph.D. (Ks.U.). She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. www.deniselow.net

How to Make a Bridge                      by Matthew Manning

One person must decide the need for a bridge.
This person has to go out into the day, ignore walls,Matthew Manning Photo
and fight needless suffering.

Annie tells me that the dragonflies are low,
begins to pack, and tells me to come on.

Why?

Don’t you know that means rain is coming?
Frogs may come out from where they hide,
and you might be able to smell it, but the best way
is to watch the dragonflies.

We pack and walk, the first on the sidewalk
toward our car, me close behind her. The rain comes,
of course, all rush to pack, children yelp and parents
struggle and huff. All follow us, Annie first,
me closest to her, the others coming but far behind.

 

Matthew David Manning holds degrees in creative writing from Arizona State University and PSU. His poetry has appeared various publications including I-70 Review, Red Paint Hill, Rust + Moth, Kansas Time + Place, and Chiron Review.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is a University Professor, the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10thAnniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth LetterThe SunRed Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board ofSEK Women Helping Women.

In the Garden      by Maril Crabtree

Nestled among stones, clusters of spider webs
shine in the sun, spun across spored fronds

of low-growing fern, woven at crazy-quilt angles,
tilting to the sky like miniature hammocks,

home to tiny spiders the size of a child’s fingernail.
Some webs show ragged holes. Each time the wind

blows they could tear off their frail mooringsMaril-Crabtree_sm
and float into daylight’s indifferent air.

What makes stones solid and webs
so fragile? Where do we humans fit in

with our clusters and colonies binged
across the earth’s crust, tilting at skies

ragged with storms and ozone holes,
basking in bright ribbons of emissions spun

across the planet? I hear the wind and wonder
with each passing gust whose house will fall next.


Maril Crabtree
lives in the Midwest and writes poetry, creative nonfiction, reviews, and occasional short fiction. Her work has appeared in Canyon Voices, Main Street Rag, Coal CityReview, and others. She is a former poetry editor for Kansas City Voices and her latest collection, Fireflies in the Gathering Dark, was named a 2018 Kansas Notable Book.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is a University Professor, the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10thAnniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth LetterThe SunRed Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

Evolution of Man                               —by Katelyn Roth

I.

Hanuman Langur, protected1029161103
in India for holy rites, dark-
skinned descendant
of the monkey god,
has a charred sugar skull face,
bullwhip tail of gray ash.

One male takes ten mothers
for his own, slaughters the children
of their former mates.
With firstborns dead, only
his offspring survive.

II.

Why I stayed:

because I was isolated. I
believed he would kill me. I
blamed myself. He
controlled my life. He
was my life. I
didn’t exist anymore.

III.

Why I left:

Garbage consumes kilometers
of Pacific Ocean, island of debris
visible to God,
satellites, astronauts.

Carp, char, grunion, hagfish,
the lamprey and naked puffer, are
trashchoked and blinded
by confettied waste, the sludge,
swirling above them, galactic.

 


Katelyn Roth
graduated with her Master’s in poetry from Pittsburg State University. She teaches composition and general literature at Pittsburg State University and Fort Scott Community College. Her work has previously appeared online at Silver Birch Press and here at Heartland: Poems of Love, Resistance, and Solidarity.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is a University Professor, the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10thAnniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

Regarding the Conversation When We Compared Regrets                                by Allison Blevins

A bird somewhere has given up sleep to prove love.
Some moments demand speaking, so we say nothing.
This is true, though often we tell lies.  One day, a bird falls
accidentally.  I think the birds are women, really.  I’ll remember
these months as a great unburdening.  A bird somewhere sings
me too.  I would cry out with them, but the daughter growing
inside me would hear what she is coming to.  This child
is declarative, like a sentence ending.  Finally.
When birds speak on the subject of mourning, on
what a body has done, can do
                                             I want to say it more
plainly—feathered and blue as down as heather as
a leaf twisting—my daughter is mine.  One day, I’ll fall.
She may remember the worst of me.  A bird somewhere
has given up.  These months, I find myself breaking like wet sand.

AllisonBlevins

Allison Blevins received her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte and is a Lecturer for the Women’s Studies Program at Pittsburg State University and the Department of English and Philosophy at Missouri Southern State University. She has been a finalist for the Cowles Poetry Book Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and the Moon City Poetry Award.  Her work has appeared in such journals as Mid-American Review, the minnesota review, Nimrod International Journal, Sinister Wisdom, and Josephine Quarterly.  Her chapbook A Season for Speaking (Seven Kitchens Press), part of the Robin Becker Series, is forthcoming in 2019.  Another chapbook Letters to Joan (Lithic Press) is also forthcoming in 2019. She lives in Missouri with her wife and three children where she co-organizes the Downtown Poetry reading series and is Editor-in-Chief of Harbor Review.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is a University Professor, the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10thAnniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

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