Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Prayer — By Izzy Wasserstein

I.

 

A comfortable radical, an academic writing careful verse

in a warm office, what would I do

if fascists rose again, slaughterers with perfect death machines?

I cannot say.

There is no answering that day

until it comes, nor knowing what bells one will strike in warning,

what knotted words of compliance

slip too easily from the tongue.

I have no faith in my bravery, less than in the god revealed

only in silence. Oh, One Who Moves Behind the Facade,

the doors gaping to three-walled houses,

let the illusion-breakers not come for me.

But if they must, grant that I remember Garcia Lorca:

These fields will be strewn with bodies.

I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to Granada.

 

II.

 

Show an affirming flame:

words renounced,

called back, called back,

as though they had not

echoed through the canyons

before they returned.

    And if my words

become ugly, if I recant

every last kind thought,

if the lines of my face

twist in cruelty,

may these soundings

outlast me.

~ Izzy Wasserstein

Izzy Wasserstein is the author of This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, a 2013 Kansas Notable Book. Izzy teaches at Washburn University, runs long distances slowly, and shares a home with a cat and three dogs.

Guest Editor Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the author or editor of two dozen books, including the recent poetry collection Following the Curve, and collection of prose Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and Miraculous. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches, she leads writing workshops widely, and loves watching the poetry of others rise and glow.

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Irish Lullaby for the End of the World — By Maril Crabtree

In honor of Hawks Well Theater, Sligo

When the last of the stars winks out

when time’s constant hum falls silent

with the last breath of midnight

 

still

 

we’ll pipe the old tunes and whistle the jigs

fingers will snap and brogues will click

we’ll find each other in the dark

~ Maril Crabtree

Originally published in Maril’s new book, Fireflies in the Gathering Dark (Kelsay Books 2017).

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 City Review, and others. She is a former poetry editor for Kansas City Voices.

Pat Daneman has published poems and short fiction in many print and on-line journals. Her most recent work appears in the anthology New Poetry from the Midwest, Moon City Review, Stonecoast Review, Comstock Review and Bellevue Literary Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. After All, her first full-length poetry collection will be published in 2018 by FutureCycle Press.

Perhaps It Would Help If You Thought of the Poem as… — by Jason Ryberg

 

a hermit’s hovel of many mansions,

 

a shimmering silk kimono billowing

on a clothes line in Central Kansas,

 

a meteorite, suddenly fallen in your backyard,

 

a particularly toxic strain of word virus,

 

a flaring moment of clarity in the middle of a moshpit,

 

a tattered travelogue entry written in hobo code,

 

a series of lies that leads (ultimately)

to (something resembling) the truth,

 

a random, haphazard arrangement

of the 10,000 myriad archetypes of the world,

 

a sum of parts that is actually larger

than its whole,

 

an unexpected arrival at reality

via the unwitting disengagement from it,

 

a Chinese puzzle box or Russian nesting doll,

 

an open-air market bazaar in a lost city,

 

or, perhaps it would help if you thought of this

fragile little contraption of memes as a butterfly

flittering the non-Euclidian geometry

of its flight pattern through a forest of wind-chimes,

still glistening with rain from a brief

morning thunder-shower.

~Jason Ryberg

 

Jason Ryberg is the author of twelve books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collections of poems are Head Full of Boogeymen / Belly Full of Snakes (Spartan Press, 2016) and A Secret History of the Nighttime World (39 West Press, 2017). He lives part-time in Kansas City with a rooster named Little Red and a bill goat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.

 

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

Catching a Lefty — by Adam Jameson

I squat behind the plate.

Cole spits sunflower seeds

into the dirt at Bill Russell field.

 

Catching a lefty is hard.

Sometimes his ball moves

down and in.

 

Other times it’s up and out.

Sometimes I got no fucking idea

where it’s headed.

 

30 pitches in, he asks if

I need a break.

I sure as hell as do, but

I’m not about to tell him that.

~Adam Jameson

 

Born and raised in Southeast Kansas, Adam Jameson played linebacker under Larry Garman and studied poetry under Al Ortolani at Pittsburg High School before going on to graduate with a B.A. in History from Pittsburg State University. Over the years he has worked as a house painter, railroad conductor, UPS supervisor and meter reader. He is currently employed as an Estimator for Westar Energy. His work has appeared in HARPThe Little Balkans Review, and To the Stars through Difficulty. His poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His most recent work Ghost Sign was selected as a Kansas Notable book for 2017. He currently lives in rural Pittsburg with his wife Meredith and son Cole.

 

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

Newsfeed — by Melissa Fite Johnson

     For Tamir Rice, 2002-2014

Beautiful white boy,
freckles like cinnamon,
salutes the camera.
Sign pinned to his shirt:
This boy stands for our flag. 

How can I say

of course he stands,
this morning’s photograph,
whole world his. They kneel for
beautiful black boys,
yesterday’s photographs.

How can I say

if your son played with a toy gun
on his front steps,
a police officer might
call him soldier,
return his salute, drive away.

~Melissa Fite Johnson

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first book of poetry, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Review, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book.  Her poems have appeared in RattleValparaiso Poetry ReviewBroadsided Press, and elsewhere.   Melissa and her husband live with their dog and chickens in Kansas, where she teaches English at her old high school. For more, visit melissafitejohnson.com.

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

Margaret Youvan — by J.T. Knoll

I had a lifetime penchant for clipping and saving whatever suited my fancy from the newspaper, starting at fifteen with my grandmother’s obituary notice. Lately, Tyson biting off a piece of Holyfield’s ear, Clinton’s Whitewater troubles, a beauty shop expanding to a full-service salon, Frontenac High School football games, lots of local wedding and anniversary announcements and, of course, obituaries. While I was living up in Kansas City, I collected song lyrics by jotting them down on scraps of paper at work, then transcribing them longhand into books — 15 all told. You might remember I mixed sodas and malts with Gertie behind the marble counter at Fedell’s Drug Store in the 1950s. For five years before Fedell’s, I took care of my bedridden mother. Once I forgot some anniversary or birthday and told her I was sorry — that I should have bought her some flowers. “You don’t need to buy me no flowers, Margaret,” she said. “You’re my flower.”

~ J. T. Knoll

T. Knoll,a native of the Republic of Frontenac, Kansas, is a counselor, prize-winning newspaper columnist, poet and speaker. Ghost Sign, his recent collaboration with three other Southeast Kansas poets, was selected as a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. He lives in Pittsburg on Euclid’s Curve, with his wife, Linda, and dog, Arlo the Labradorean.

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

The Dancing Cottage — By George Wallace

Before she came to America your grandmother served three sisters in a chicken legged cottage in Russia, a dancing cottage that turned and turned among the trees, a woodcutter’s cottage in a clearing in a forest and the woodcutter was never home, a modest cottage that turned and turned with three beautiful sisters inside,

 

Woodsman’s daughters they were and your grandmother was servant to the three sisters and small and capable, and silent and quick, when she plucked a chicken she was a fistful of feathers and the woodcutter was never home, and the three sisters laughed at your grandmother, her clothes and her smell and her manners,

She belonged outside where she was born they said, she smelled like the skin of animals — and the truth of the matter is your grandmother DID spring out of the earth, like a mushroom, near a tree where the cottage pigs dug up roots in summer, and when she walked through the cottage a chill like outdoors followed her from room to room,

And the three sisters were afraid of that and they didn’t like the look in her eyes and called her Baba, as in Baba Yaga, and they called her that right in front of her face, and she said nothing and tended the smoky stove and cleaned things up, she pushed the handle of a broom through straw to chase away mice, when it was necessary,

 

And in the candlelight of evening the cottage danced and the pine forest was silent and watchful, and the silence was terrible and wonderful and enchanted at the same time, and the clatter of chicken bones and metal plates, and in winter the three sisters ate turnip soup and laughed and were very happy,

 

And the woodsman was not there, and the wind shook off the blanket of snow which covered the trees and the animals and the wet straw roof, and your grandmother standing outside the door of the dancing cottage, dreaming of America

~ George Wallace

George Wallace is writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, author of 31 chapbooks of poetry and winner of the Naim Fraisheri grand prize at the International Poetry Festival “Ditët e Naimit.” Editor of Poetrybay and co-editor of Great Weather for Media in New York City he travels regularly to share his work with poetry with writers across the United States and internationally. Recent appearances in Kansas include the Gordon Parks Museum, Pittsburg Library, Prospero‘s Books (2012); and the 2017 Kansas City Poetry Throwdown. An interview with the poet may be heard via ‘The Poet and the Poem,” webcasts & podcasts from the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress.

 

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

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