Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

What I Learned From Fire — By Julie Ramon

Sometimes, you find bits of yourself
in the ash, embers you roll over
with your foot. Be careful—
some things are too big to control.
It moves without asking,
the way a person touches another,
a risk, a door to a warm or cool place.
It speaks words that aren’t there.
It will tell you where to go from here.
And, like all good things, it will die.
And this stumbling too has saved you.

~ Julie Ramon

Julie Ramon is an English instructor, specializing in English as a second language, at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. She also teaches academic writing at Crowder College in Missouri. 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 lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband, son and daughter.


Guest Editor 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. 

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Coal — By Laura Lee Washburn

You think of something smashed, compressed

fluidless, dense, chafing at its elbows,

formed by weight and gravity and time.

 

You think of something that tears

as it goes. How using it warms and harms.

How finding it, destroys. The earth rumbles.

 

My body, some mornings, at fifty-one

is ruined bone, solid, unmoved,

tense and waiting, coal unlit,

energy of the sun stuck again.

~ Laura Lee Washburn

 

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 TheNewVerseNews, 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.

Guest Editor 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. 

Standing on the Rock — Tim Pettet

(For the Water Protectors)

O! Poet, the clouds you love to watch

carry our passion, our pain.

If you listen, you can hear the whisper

behind the scenery of the evening news.

 

Bless our innocence by knowing

we are innocent by knowing

this water is our home, this sky,

our house of prayer where you

 

are welcome. Come in.

Shed your shoes and feel

the wisdom-dance of our path—

river of water, river of clouds, river of tears.

 

When you leave, don’t forget your hat.

It’s going to rain.

~ Tim Pettet

 

Timothy Pettet published his first poem in The Third Eye, a mimeographed journal published on and around the University of Puget Sound by anti-war hippies and “peaceniks.” Over the years, he has published his poems in various journals and publications. He is currently celebrating his first actual book of poems. Titled Accidental Dancer, the book sports a cover painted by his wife, Mary Pettet and is published by Flint Hills Publications. You can find out more at: Timothypettet.com/accidentaldancer.

 

Guest Editor Annette Hope Billings is an award-winning author and actress whose dynamic style of reciting has led fans to dub her “Maya of the Midwest!” Her first book of poetry, A Net Full of Hope (2015), garnered the 2015 ARTSConnect ARTY Award in Literature in Topeka, Kansas. Descants for a Daughter followed in 2016 and serves as a collection of affirmations from a parent’s heart. Billings most recent publication is Just Shy of Stars (Spartan Press, 2018). Her poetry and short stories also appears in the following anthologies: Gimme Your Lunch Money: Heartland Poets Respond to Bullying (2016), Twisting Topeka (2016), Our Last Walk: Using Poetry for Grieving and Remembering Our Pets (2016), and Kansas Time + Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Balkans Press, 2017) and Revealed (2017). Billings’ poetry can also be found in both online and print publications including Inscape/Washburn University, Coal City Press, Microburst and Konza Magazine.

Apologia for Being Standoffish Sometimes — Katelyn Roth

The Youth Group held a seminar on

Hugging While Female. The leaders were men

and women; attendants, only girls. The boys

played basketball in the other half of the gym;

We learned to prevent chest-to-chest contact

with a well-placed hand at chest level.

 

I used to hug my young uncles

at annual family barbeques. Their arms

would loop loosely around my kidbody,

one hand maybe patting my back.

 

When I scuttle in sideways like a crab,

they are confused. Their loose arms reach further

to hold me long-ways. I rest my obedient hand

on their chest as I’ve been told, only it feels

so close, so lingering, so intimate, so

I back away instead, turn to hug my aunts.

~ Katelyn Roth

Katelyn Roth holds degrees in English and Psychology and will be defending her Master’s thesis in Poetry this spring. She lives in Pittsburg, KS with her husband and two dogs. Her work has previously appeared on line and in Silver Birch Press and at Heartland: Poems of Love, Resistance and Solidarity.

Guest Editor Annette Hope Billings is an award-winning author and actress whose dynamic style of reciting has led fans to dub her “Maya of the Midwest!” Her first book of poetry, A Net Full of Hope (2015), garnered the 2015 ARTSConnect ARTY Award in Literature in Topeka, Kansas. Descants for a Daughter followed in 2016 and serves as a collection of affirmations from a parent’s heart. Billings most recent publication is Just Shy of Stars (Spartan Press, 2018). Her poetry and short stories also appears in the following anthologies: Gimme Your Lunch Money: Heartland Poets Respond to Bullying (2016), Twisting Topeka (2016), Our Last Walk: Using Poetry for Grieving and Remembering Our Pets (2016), and Kansas Time + Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Balkans Press, 2017) and Revealed (2017). Billings’ poetry can also be found in both online and print publications including Inscape/Washburn University, Coal City Press, Microburst and Konza Magazine.

At the Table — by Kathleen Cain

—for Maya Angelou

We all claim some part of her-

memory word reflection.

And why not? She invited us all

to a place at the table. “Do you think”

 

she uncrossed her arms and asked,

allowing one of those deep pregnant

pauses to divide her words into rivers

of thought and feelings

 

“you are the only one to have suffered

the loss of love? Of a child? Or missed

the rent? Or gotten fired? Well…read

the Black poets and you won’t feel

so alone. Muted with pain, she

taught us how to sing. Constrained

by fire, she worked up steps to leap

across the flames and dance.

In all her words: a great heartbeat.

 

She was the voice of past. Present.

Future. How freedom could ring

in those syllables. How she could say

what we all need to hear. Brothers.

Sisters. In her name let’s scoot our

chairs a little closer to the table.

~ Kathleen Cain

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

Guest Editor Annette Hope Billings is an award-winning author and actress whose dynamic style of reciting has led fans to dub her “Maya of the Midwest!” Her first book of poetry, A Net Full of Hope (2015), garnered the 2015 ARTSConnect ARTY Award in Literature in Topeka, Kansas. Descants for a Daughter followed in 2016 and serves as a collection of affirmations from a parent’s heart. Billings most recent publication is Just Shy of Stars (Spartan Press, 2018). Her poetry and short stories also appears in the following anthologies: Gimme Your Lunch Money: Heartland Poets Respond to Bullying (2016), Twisting Topeka (2016), Our Last Walk: Using Poetry for Grieving and Remembering Our Pets (2016), and Kansas Time + Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Balkans Press, 2017) and Revealed (2017). Billings’ poetry can also be found in both online and print publications including Inscape/Washburn University, Coal City Press, Microburst and Konza Magazine.

My Flag–by Greg Kosmicki

 

It is after dinner and I go to shake
the crumbs from the tablecloth.
They fall down onto the porch steps

for the crickets and the mice and ants.
We live in a great country
there is enough for all.

The tablecloth unfurls lightly on the held breath
of the still fall night air
and it seems to me to be like a flag

with the blue stripe all around the border
and the blue stripe enclosing the field at center
a field which encloses some flowers

but could not hold in even all the flowers
since some of them have escaped
and drifted, as on water or a breeze

toward the bright blue border.
It is the flag of the friendly country
where even the vermin have enough to eat

and I’m waving it from my porch for you.
I want you to come and join me
and my family, I want you to sit

at my table and have bread and lasagna with us
so we can talk about the war and the taxes.
I want you to help me shake crumbs on the porch

I want to wash it and iron it and fold it safely
to place it gently and with respect in the drawer
for our next dinner when we will not have

marched under any other flag
for I know you could not be a traitor to me
we will all be so insanely happy

we had not yet had to die for any cause.
I want you to spill your wine
I want you to get bread crumbs on my flag.

 

[Initially self-published in When There Wasn’t Any War, The Backwaters Press, 1987, with ½ proceeds donated to Nebraskans for Peace. Anthologized in A Sandhills Reader: Thirty years of great writing from the Great Plains, Mark Sanders, Ed., Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2015. Anthologized in Nebraska Poetry; A Sesquicentennial Anthology, Daniel Simon, Ed., Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2017. Forward by Twyla Hansen, Nebraska State Poet. Included in Leaving Things Unfinished: Forty-some Years of Poems, (Selected Poems), Mark Sanders, Ed., Sandhills Press, scheduled for 2018 publication.]

Greg Kosmicki is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poems. He founded The Backwaters Press in 1997 and is Emeritus Editor. He and his wife, Debbie, are parents of three and grandparents of two. Greg has been involved in peace and justice and anti-war efforts since the early 1980s.

Guest Editor 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. His latest book, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) contains ekphrastic poems, inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels, that “resound and sometimes subvert expectations” (Tyler Robert Sheldon), that provide “a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday” (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg).

This is a prayer for a field. . . — by Kathleen Cain

 

on the high plains, descended from mountains and foothills.
This is a hymn for foothills, twenty miles upstream; an incantation for mountains both
shining and dark; navy blue; unearthly green.
This is Hosanna! for erosion and differential resistance
and disintegration stone by pebble by grain
in the wind. And the rain. In snow. And ice.
This is praisesong for freezing and cracking, an orison for Old Red Sandstone losing its grip.
This is a Kyrie for letting go: eleison of return, oxygen from leaves, plainsong of snowfall from blizzard clouds; speaking in tongues for run-off at snowmelt.
This is a mandala for creeks threading east and west,
a burnt offering for gravity—pilgrimage along the path of least resistance.
This is riparian adoration—for cottonwoods making their way one at a time, procession of ash and elm following; sycamore; currant bushes; forbs and grasses, bluestem and grama.
This is a charm for natural flooding along green rivers, brown streams, sunburned creeks.
This is a novena for trees accused of taking too much water after the dam has been built, the stream diverted, the irrigation allotment overspent in ever-widening circles of evaporation.
This is a rosary for roots holding earthen banks in their grip, a lorica for their leaved branches keeping the water cool—the catfish, the bullhead, the bass—for holding algae at bay.
This is an Alleleuia! for shade and shelter, for life breathed back into the world. Amen! Blessed Be! along the river, the creek, the stream, the field. . .

 

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 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. His latest book, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) contains ekphrastic poems, inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels, that “resound and sometimes subvert expectations” (Tyler Robert Sheldon), that provide “a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday” (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg).

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