Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Archive for the ‘Heartland’ Category

The Disappeared — By Mary Silwance

term to describe

people erased

for existing

against the grain–

 

the disappeared

 

gone

not like the rapture

not from natural causes diseases accidents age

but deleted

 

the disappeared

 

aborted

long after birth

tossed into

the garbage bin

behind history books

 

the disappeared

 

expunged

blue contacts over brown seeing

flat iron over kinky locks

jeans over galabaya*

Irish Spring over cumin and garlic

the letters of your name

syllables of you

forever on papers

rearranged to match

a stranger in a strange land’s ear
the disappeared

~ Mary Silwance

*flowing gown worn by Middle Easterners

Mary Silwance is an environmental educator and activist who blogs at Tonic Wild and founded One Less Pipeline. She is a mother of three and a gardener who aspires to having goats, bees and chickens. Her work has been published in Syracuse Cultural Workers Datebook, Konza Journal, Descansos and Sequestrum.

 

Guest Editor Maril Crabtree holds B.A, M.A., and J.D. degrees from the University of Kansas and has taught French, English, therapeutic writing, yoga, and sustainable living. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have been published in numerous journals, along with three chapbooks. Her full-length collection, Fireflies in the Gathering Dark, will be published in August, 2017.

A Tired Farmer Goes to Town — Greg German

–Fifth day, wheat harvest–

A locally scattered thundershower

comes through on a full stoked

locomotive wind, and slams

past his house. He gets out of bed

to watch, and stands there

in the storm’s confused

reflection, more a shadow

than a man. Raindrops.

big as boots,

kick at the windows.

Then it’s over.

The farmer can’t sleep.

At first light

he gets in his pick-up

and goes to look at his land.

The sun rides up

on a clear sky, a shiny spot

on a porcelain plate.

An eye-batting breeze

flirts with the damp

flour scent of a delayed

harvest. At the 5-mile corner

the farmer knows that he has drawn

out of a full-house.

He looks at his field

like it was never there.

When hail comes, size doesn’t

matter. Five minutes

of the pea-sized stuff

is all it takes

to iron a wheat field

flat. He is tired

and considers never going home.

At the restaurant, some men

are not tired at all. Conversation

spills across the contour

of damage. To stop the erosion,

they pull their best jokes

out of their pockets and plant them

between cups of coffee. Before noon

the farmer antes, and goes back

into his country. He greases his combine

and enjoys the dust.

~ Greg German

Originally Published in Kansas Quarterly, 1993 V.24, #4

Greg German was born and raised near Glen Elder, in north central Kansas, where he farmed with his family for many years. He currently lives in Kansas City, Kansas, with his wife Regina and son, Alden. He is a private consultant specializing in web site development, special project consulting, and photography. (http://www.limestone9consulting.com) He holds a B.A. degree in English/Creative writing and a B.S. in Education from Kansas State University.  Greg developed and maintains http://www.kansaspoets.com — a website unique to Kansas Poets. Greg’s poetry and personal essays have appeared in over 50 literary journals across the U.S.

Guest Editor Melissa Fite Johnson received her Master’s in English literature from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. Her first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. Her poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, The New Verse News, velvet-tail, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas. For more, visit melissafitejohnson.com.

Not My America — Katelyn Roth

I.

I have been

the sigh that plants hands firmly

on either side of the mouth and bursts out

like shattering ice, shards in the chest,

upon reaching home.
one who bargains with the remote’s blinking

battery light, promises things—a Clorox sponge bath,

name brand batteries—to keep from moving

to change the channel.
the arthritic finger on a gnarled hand, frozen

to trail after each passerby like a magnet

drags North or like heads turn when men hold hands.
II.

When the water rises, fire ants hitch together,

eggs gathered between them—they will float

for weeks, bobbing like Atlantis

before it angered the gods.
Maybe the same gravel road that led away

will lead us home. Maybe the sea

won’t swallow us this time.

~ Katelyn Roth

Katelyn Roth graduated from Pittsburg State University with degrees in Creative Writing and Psychology. She has been previously published in the campus literary magazine Cow Creek Review. Currently, she resides in Pittsburg with her husband and dog, working at an insurance office while on hiatus from her Masters in Creative Writing.

If I Told You I Live in the Planetarium — by Joshua Davis

would you believe me?
It’s true. Watch me chart an invisible line connecting the moles on your neck

with the ones on your hand and left thigh. Bottled storm, the windows are open.
Take my hand. Walk me through every room:

hallways where thunderheads cluster and brood,
dim alcoves lit only by schools of bright fish,
one smoky-blue pool room, where women

take women into their arms like wrapped parcels, and men watch themselves in the mirrors,
the glint of skin stretched over their hearts, fingernails

trilling down the keys of another man’s spine. Let your fingers fall half-step by half-step, and when we’re sick of smoke and hibiscus,

we’ll wander among the apiary rows.
I’ll let that sugared singing teach me how to praise you—all things buzzing, all things sweet.

~ Joshua Davis

Joshua Davis holds MFAs from the University of Southern Maine and from the University of Mississippi. He earned an M.A. in English at Pittsburg State University. Recent poems have appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Monster Verse, and Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters.

Guest Editor Melissa Fite Johnson received her Master’s in English literature from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. Her first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. Her poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, The New Verse News, velvet-tail, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas. For more, visit melissafitejohnson.com.

The Man Who Wants to Swallow You Whole – by Z Hall

z-hallthe-man-who-wants-2

~Z. Hall

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work often features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. As an art writer and scholar, her peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

Resume – by Jason Baldinger

Dear human resources manager
I know you get millions of pieces of paper
from job hungry applicants
that you don’t give a fuck about
much as we don’t give a fuck about you
but capitalism still hasn’t ended
I mean it theoretically ended
when the industrial revolution was pronounced dead
but capital’s endless exploitation is still rampant
and apparently just to live
and apparently just to experience life
is not an acceptable trade
I suppose it doesn’t matter
that this is not meaningful work
there are only mostly retail and service jobs
left for low wage workers
who could only be so lucky
to dream about a universal basic income
or for that fact free health care
so I will happily wait on americans
who somehow believe that
these material possession
will somehow fill the emptiness
in their hearts

I can’t tell you what intangible qualities
I have to offer you. I’m quick with new tasks
I’ve run businesses for friends dying of cancer
I do work hard when there’s work to be done
I think outside of the box
I like write poems and daydream
I want to cry at least once a day
because the world is beautiful
because the world is sad
because I might be hungover
because existence in ultimately futile

I can tell you I won’t spend more than
two hours a day in the bathroom
writing poems
on paper or on the stall walls
if I choose the walls
I can promise you will have
the most articulate customers
I’ll even be happy to hide a dictionary
behind the toilet, in case I get a penchant
to use one of those five dollar words
I’ll happily volunteer my Webster’s
that I stole in eighth grade
it has space guns drawn in the margins
but has served me well
for almost thirty years

I have no idea where I’ll be in five years
in ten years, hell if any of us could see
that far into the future we wouldn’t be sitting
here waiting for a fucking job
hell, I’m still not sure what I want to be
when I grow up, or maybe I know
but people don’t pay poets money
people don’t believe in art
people seem only to believe
in money or a god that don’t exist
they long for an afterlife
like I long for early retirement
and I promise I won’t say that out loud

I think its safe to say I’m highly adaptable
last week I installed cabinets one day
hung a suspended ceiling the next
I sold records for friends in my spare time
I wrote and submitted poems
agreed to do another benefit show
then woke up and was a book mule
I drank beer on my break
because it tasted good
and I was tired and it was offered
and I learned a long time ago
that you should always say no
in moderation

seriously though I sold paint to people
I’ve been cursed out for not having the key
to the narcotics locker when I  managed a drug store
I pretended once to care about office supplies
sporting goods, deli meat, detailing cars
processing checks, auto parts
and that doesn’t count all the things
that I may have pretended to care about
because I needed a job then
as I need a job now

I will ask that if you care to drug test
I will pass as long as you don’t test for marijuana,
I know it’s still sort of illegal
I promise I won’t smoke it before
a shift or in the middle of a shift
but I do like it socially
and generally it’s the only way
I get a good night’s sleep nowadays
and that’s important for productivity

that’s what you want right
happy and productive workers
anesthetized and dreamless
wading through their lives
just getting by
constantly careening
at the drop edge of broke
a paycheck away from being hungry
a paycheck away from being homeless
a paycheck away from hope

~Jason Baldinger

Poet Jason Baldinger has spent a life in odd jobs. Somewhere in time he has traveled the country, and wrote a few books, the latest of which, Fragments of a Rainy Season, will be available through Six Gallery Press later this year. A recent list of publishing credits include: Uppagus, Anti Heroin Chic, In-between Hangovers, Your One Phone Call, Nerve Cowboy, Winedrunk Sidewalk and Lilliput Review. You can also hear audio of some poems on the bandcamp website by just typing in his name.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. As an art writer and scholar, her peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

Raised Hands – by Rob Love

robWritten in protest of police brutality and in remembrance of the
brothers and sisters murdered through excessive police force.

It’s gotten cold again.
That familiar frigid feeling where lifelessness grows thick in the air.
Spare us the talk of seasons, this seems year round.
The sound of rapid heartbeats slowing meets with earth
shattering silence to make the soundtrack of our sorrow.
The last waves of heat waft upward.
The light, salvation appearing unreachable.

We raise our hands.

Maybe we can catch just a bit of it in our palms.
Maybe we just have questions that need answering and
our conditioning tells us our hands must go up first.
Maybe with lies no longer supporting our world we are trying to catch falling sky
in a moment of survival inspired instinct thinking we can bear the weight.

Wait!
Don’t shoot!
Why are you shooting?!
I’m just taking the shape of shooting star aimed downward.
Earthbound.

Trying to infuse something human into this unrecognizable mess we call…
Yes, I called the police. I was scared, but I didn’t think they would kill him.
Yes, I discharged my weapon.  I feared no longer being feared.

Why did he run?
Was he running?

It looked like he was doing an unusual dance to a strange beat.
Like he was using his feet to clear a path to something different.
But any possibility of change must be dispatched without regard and
a hardened soul starts to pull triggers they lose count of how many shots were fired.

How many bullets needed to penetrate flesh like seed in ground?
What urges inanimate forms to animation?
The rhythm of truth is constant.
Still there are masses frozen in fear.
It’s cold out here.

Move.
Love is an action.
A step,
a leap,
a shift,
a motion.

Rising like the elevated notion of creation.
Our bodies are celebration personified!
Our raised hands are not a submission.
They are a sign of divine ambition, of indestructible will.
To keep reaching for something appearing to beautiful to be real.

Warmth is descending again.

Feel,
breathe,
live.

~ Rob Love

Poet Rob Love is a Kansas City, Missouri native and has been writing poetry since 2007. He has self-published one collection, Ready to Rise.  His pieces have been featured through Black Art in America and Cowbird.com and in collaborations with the Center for Digital Storytelling and UMKC Conservatory of Dance for Salon~360 and a performance at The Folly Theater.  As a mentor, public speaker and poet he aims to reach youth and adults alike in order to cure the voicelessness that grips our communities. For him, poetry isn’t just a passion, but a purpose to be fulfilled.  The goal will always be to elevate, enlighten and inspire the whole of the human family.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. As an art writer and scholar, her peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

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