Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Archive for the ‘Heartland’ Category

Grain Elevator Gray — By Roy Beckemeyer

The elevator towers at the edge of town:

grain-dust covers all when hard winter-red is cut.

 

The combines chew lanes, the trucks have no wings

yet fly over gravel. This year’s wheat was chest-

 

deep on the young men whose faces are now dust

covered. They rent rooms without clothes-cabinets,

 

small town antiquated tourist cabins: men

who will not turn home till winter. Feathers

 

of the pigeons are dirt-colored. Dust-gray eggs

in the nest now, and the birds almost tumble

 

as they swoop to peck up spilled kernels. Terraces

step foreign fields but here flatness reigns and you

 

watch the birds soar over heat-baked fields through

the sun’s bright day. They absorb June so that January

 

will not cut so deep. They will move south later, yo-yo

back with spring, desperate gray against the white clouds.


~ Roy Beckemeyer

 

A Golden Shovel poem inspired by Liz Berry’s “Birmingham Roller”


Roy J. Beckemeyer 
is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016.

Guest Editor Denise Low, second Kansas Poet Laureate, has published over 20 books of award-winning poetry and essays, including Ghost Stories (Woodley) and Natural Theologies, essays about Mid-Plains literature (Backwater Press). Low was visiting professor at the University of Richmond and Kansas University. She taught at Haskell Indian Nation University, where she founded the creative writing program. She served Associated Writing Programs as board president. She and her husband Thomas Pecore Weso publish Mammoth Publications.

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Eliminate — By Ronda Miller

Use it to describe refined sugar, coffee,

or animal protein I removed from my diet.

It works for exercise, although I didn’t

have it to eliminate anyway.

Use it to discuss a policy that won’t work,

a police suspect who’s been ruled out,

or a boyfriend you no longer wish to date.

 

It works for the red dress left

at the store because it doesn’t fit right.

But let’s not use it to describe

the person dying in the street,

the one a government or police

state threw a weapon in front

of as an excuse to watch them bleed out.

 

People aren’t eliminated,

human life is too precious

to equate it to taking out the trash.

~ Ronda Miller

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include the Smithsonian Institute. Her books include Water Signs, Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain.

Guest Editor Denise Low, second Kansas Poet Laureate, has published over 20 books of award-winning poetry and essays, including Ghost Stories (Woodley) and Natural Theologies, essays about Mid-Plains literature (Backwater Press). Low was visiting professor at the University of Richmond and Kansas University. She taught at Haskell Indian Nation University, where she founded the creative writing program. She served Associated Writing Programs as board president. She and her husband Thomas Pecore Weso publish Mammoth Publications.

 

Cute Pictures of Dogs . by Lena Marvin

a digital impression of a stranger

stumbled upon via a link from an image, a sentiment I disagreed with

I try to make a point of not replying to political statementslenamarvin

made by strangers on the internet

this stranger

he isn’t crazy, he isn’t evil

but he doesn’t exist in the same plane of reality I do

his kindness

is not my kindness

his justice is not my justice

I’m not sure how to relate to all this hate

but seeing it reflected on a wall

an endless stream of politics

interrupted by fear

by hope

by cute pictures of dogs

he isn’t so different from me

but he is

he is completely different from me

he hopes for a world protected on all sides with bans and walls

by what I would call fascism

but what he calls logic

big government is evil, small government our only hope

but the government he backs seems to be growing ever bigger

odd the bits of shared understanding

the memes I agree with

the importance of social security, of authenticity, of argument with

logic, of kindness, even karma

shared understanding between us

he is human

I am human

he wants a better world

but the world he supports

is a terrifying place

but not to him

to me

I’m scared

where he perceives freedom

I perceive restriction

acts of bodily integrity equate to selfishness and murder to him

he denies a history of oppression, and a growing potential of

future of oppression

gun rights and walls, this is how we stop criminals he claims

I counter with abortions and a social safety net

we both view the other as an advocate for murder and violence

he says love your neighbors and quotes bible verse, he shares

memes that make fun of Madonna (whore, ugly, old)

all that made her worthwhile once is lost, yet not to me,

I am still amused

I find solace in a universe that has no god, a meaningless void

yet full of possibility, a rhythm that will continue

without humanity as it did before

I am the center of my own universe, as I recognize

the universe doesn’t care

he is one of god’s chosen, sure of his beliefs,

where I muddle about unsure

who is right? who is wrong?

how am I to know (it’s me my universe tells me with certainty)

how do I push forward in the face of such overwhelming hostility

such cute dog photos

the human element links us

we are one of the same

yet we cannot, will not condone one another

I feel the world has gone mad

 

Lena Marvin is a librarian at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She hails from Lawrence, Kansas and is only a poet in interesting times. She studied philosophy, library science and history in NYC. She’s a hacker and a geek who advocates for open source, encryption, cats, class struggle and board-gaming.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, 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.

As if . by Kathleen Cain

– for Kelly Madigan

 

Some mornings I wake

as if I belong to no one:

no person, no family or country

of origin, no borders of heart or hearth

 

and so I know the day

will mark some crossing.

Some mystery, however ordinary

in the extraordinary round

 

will be revealed: the passing

of the Gemenid meteor shower

overhead, for instance.

 

Or a woman may come up

to me out of the blue in

the Goodwill and ask if

I can recommend a book

for her son, just out of

detox. And I will. I’ll know

exactly the book to recommend.

 

She’ll ask, as if

we are not strangers

and I’ll belong again.

 

Kathleen Cain is a native Nebraskan who has lived in Colorado since 1972. Her nonfiction book The Cottonwood Tree: An American Champion (2007) was selected for the Nebraska 150 Books Project. Two of her poems appeared in Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867-2017.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, 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.

A Blank Sheet of Paper: A Poem in Free Verse for Free Women . by Diane Wahto

Lawmakers etch their restrictions on sovereign bodies,diane-wahto

obliterate women out of existence, into servitude.

Lawmakers scribble laws, sentence women to a word

web of confinement. Lawmakers in marble halls

of statehouses, pillared halls of Washington, raise

their voices in pious tones, invoke a fantasy god

of their own devising as justification for their laws.

Lawmakers spout platitudes of concern for women,

their safety, their health, then doodle laws to bring

harm upon women. Lawmakers pray to their gods

to end abortion, lawmakers who would punish

providers, lawmakers who send their daughters

to accommodating doctors, doctors who would

never utter the word “abortion,” who instead

say, “D &C.” A woman will say “abortion,”

will say the law of her own conscience will

guide her, a law not written anywhere

but in her sovereign being. A law

on a blank piece of paper, a law

written by each woman who will

decide how she must fulfill her destiny.


Diane Wahto
received an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University in 1985 and has been writing poetry ever since. Her latest publication, “Empty Corners,” is in the spring 2017 issue of
Same. She was co-editor of 365 Days, an anthology of the 365 Facebook page poets. She lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Patrick Roche and their dog Annie.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, 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.

Word of the Day . by Sarah Chenoweth

To those who would wait

for the revolution

wearing John Lennon t-shirts andChenoweth, Sarah

Guy Fawkes masks,

tattoos on their arms,

braids in their hair,

waiting for the return of

Marley, Tupac, Marat, Cobain:

 

To those who would wait

for the tide to turn,

for the waters to rise,

for others to fall

on their swords,

for a new king to be crowned;

a queen forgotten:

 

To those who would wait

until it is convenient;

when their work is done,

when children have gone,

after that next big promotion,

vacation, fad diet, season finale:

 

To those who would wait

until the fat cats own their lives,

until the food riots begin and

the summers become too hot

for victory gardens:

 

To those who would wait

under overpasses,

in alleyways,

buried in inescapable debt:

 

Stop waiting.

The fight did not end

in 1789, 1865, or 1964.

 

Stop waiting.

The fight is now, and

 

the word of the day is Resistance.

 

Sarah Chenoweth graduated from both the English and Communication M.A. programs at Pittsburg State University. She has been published in print through I-70 Review, Communication Theory, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and the Journal of International Communication, and online through the Silver Birch Press and Kansas Time + Place.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, 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.

Bleed . by Rhiannon Ross

A safety pin punctures

Rhiannon_Ross

her purple, silk blouse.

Code for

You’re safe with me.

But the children plead:

Prick your finger, pretty please.

Why should a diaper pin on your lapel

persuade us now?

 

Prick, prick your finger,

pretty, pretty, please.

March for the teen with hands up!

Who got shot dead in the street.

Hug the girls whose mama

overdosed on opiates and alcohol.

 

Drop coins in the kettle,

his cup,

the collection plate.

Go to bed hungry

so tomorrow we eat.

 

Prick, prick, prick

your fingers,

pretty please, pretty please!

Break your manicured nails

when you dig out the border wall.

Break bread with the lady

swaddled in a burka.

Break away from the comforts

of the status quo.

Cash in your white privilege.

 

Tell the powers that be what we

cannot safely speak.

Please.

 

Rhiannon Ross teaches youth poetry workshops for In Our Own Words, a Missouri Arts Council-funded program. She serves on the Riverfront Reading Series committee, the Jump Start Art KC board, and as a regional co-coordinator for Poetry Out Loud. She received a 2012 Rocket Grant for community project, Vox Narro.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, 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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