Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

A Determined Farmer And His Family Load The Last Heifer — By Greg German

–November–

Tail-twisting to the far side

of the pasture the last heifer

never looks back.

The loading chute empties.

The farmer’s son claims

no fault, spins his Yamaha

ready for a 2-wheeled rodeo.

His mother, her hair half-tangled

with patience, her boots

lathered with shit, shouts

toward the heifer, gives her men

a ripped-shirt speech

of compassion

because it’s part of her

job. The farmer swears,

and because he is not a cowboy

rides his horse however he can,

CO-OP cap on backwards.

Together, the farmer

and his son chase the beast

along a mile of fence,

uphill, down

hill, across a pond dam,

places no cow has ever

been before.

Aware of space, the farmer’s son

twists the throttle

deep through his hand. Aware

of what’s between

his legs

the farmer holds on

for his life. The horse,

bored with the luggage

on its back, enjoys it all

because he has sense,

does everything

but shut the gate

to a second-wind kink

in a cow’s tail that spins

the last heifer back

to the further side of its world.

~ 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. (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. Gregs poetry and personal essays have appeared in over 50 literary journals across the U.S.

Matthew David Manning holds degrees in creative writing from Arizona State University and Pittsburg State University. His poetry has appeared various publications including I-70 Review, Red Paint Hill, Rust + Moth, Kansas Time + Place, and Chiron Review. He recently became a father and has been enjoying his transition into high school education at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, KS.

Editor’s Note: What can I say? I’m a sucker for poems with cows in them. Greg has written a poem with a heifer that has seen some shit (besides what mom has on her boot).

Advertisements

Crossroads — By Elizabeth Perdomo

We drive past

old poetry, crossroads

with well-worn treads, old ruts

cut through vast thorn-brush regions.

Ranchlands with broken fences

hold things I dont begin

to understand; home

for creatures who I can

only vaguely name,

like some

large unidentified hawk

now perched high upon a canopy

of old electric wire posts,

nor can I ever know

why fast growing

tepeguaje

is so prone to shed

large branches in fierce

windborn storms.

We pass signs,

discarded clothing,

torn shreds that blow as tattered flags

surrendered upon barbed wire

fencelines, within this

gust of wind-made sandsheet,

caliche & scarce water,

where dark wing shadows

crisscross roadways,

seek morning feasts left behind

from last nights carnage.

Ancient home of sharp thorns,

of los ebanos & granjeno,

where hidden dangers rattle

dry gourd warnings, where perils

abound in glancing edges. Abandoned

on nocturnal coyote crossings,

hide faces we glimpse but

do not know,

nor do we claim.

Caminos del desierto, which

lead the ill prepared through unknown

places, remain a last

desperate option for unnamed

strangers, who as farolitos

wander until freedom

becomes but a heat mirage;

a hope extinguished,

another name

forever vanished

in a land of dry bones

scattered upon parched red earth

as sun bleached mesquite beans

found hidden beneath some

shimmering August

afternoon.

~ Elizabeth Perdomo

Introduction/Background: Crossroads, first published in Interstice,began during a long drive back to the Rio Grande Valley from a visit to South Carolina. About a month prior to this road trip, Perdomo read, The Sand Sheet,written by local South Texas author and naturalist, Mr. Arturo Longoria. On the long road homeward, she drove along the edge of the Sand Sheet in Brooks County, Texas. Although she had driven that route many times before, she was able to see and observe things in a different light, and with much greater understanding of the complex life, habitat interactions, and sometimes, the deaths which occur in this harsh, beautiful land.

Elizabeth Perdomo, born in Emporia, Kansas, raised in Winfield, has written poetry since a teen. “One Turn of Seasons,” includes her poetry and another’s photography. Recently, her poems appeared in “Kansas Time + Place,” “Interstice” and “The Chachalaca Review.” Perdomo now lives in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Matthew David Manning holds degrees in creative writing from Arizona State University and Pittsburg State University. His poetry has appeared various publications including I-70 Review, Red Paint Hill, Rust + Moth, Kansas Time + Place, and Chiron Review. He recently became a father and has been enjoying his transition into high school education at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, KS.

Editor’s response to this poem: What stood out to me the most in this poem was how busy all the objects were. They all have jobs, and the poet seemed to always be unintentionally getting in their way. Like the poet, I too have questions for the ranchlands, but maybe I’m too proud to ask.

Strata — By Denise Low

1

The aquarium waterfalls bubble

in perpetual green algae springtime.

I open How To Read Water

about adhesions, water striders,

redirected honey eddies.

2

Mosaic backsplash tiles

refract pointillist shadows.

Behind a glass water pitcher swim

garbled blue fins

twisting starfish arms.

3

I salute the great-grandmothers

pumping water into sinks,

all those baskets of apples to wash.

It’s autumn again in Norwood

twenty miles away and a century.

4

An old frame house watches

the pond’s ripples turning pink.

Its eyes are window panes,

antique glass wavering at sunset

until darkness burns liquid flames.

~ Denise Low

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

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

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.

Tag Cloud