Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Anderson Creek Creed — By Roy Beckemeyer

You did not believe that red cedars could

transform themselves explosively into flame:

an earthly form of transubstantiation

 

(“Forgive me, Father,” you say, as you think

that thought); that you would cut fences, praying

your cattle might outrun the torrent of fire,

that your truck’s headlights would flare like

molten lava, that flames would jeté

over roads, over dozer-scraped pasture,

 

that fickle winds would conspire to find new fuel

for fire, that you would find haven at last in new

winter wheat, slight and green and beneath the flame’s

 

fierce notice, fenced by walls of black smoke, by

skeletal trees clutching at the sky for relief,

by stars gone dizzy with hot air and soot,

 

that God would wait until your faith began

to smolder, to crisp around its edges,

before finally bestowing the benison of rain.

~ Roy J. Beckemeyer

—The Anderson Creek wildfire burned nearly 400,000 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma in March, 2016.

Roy J. Beckemeyer was President of the Kansas Authors Club from 2016-2017. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was recognized as a Kansas Notable Book. His new chapbook of ekphrastic poems, Amanuensis Angel, is out from Spartan Press (2018).

Guest Editor Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review, and others. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.

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The Myth of Arms — By Gregory Stapp

Born without arms, disarmed,

you ached like a broken-handled

wheelbarrow. You hammered at doors

like a bloody fist. You explored the forests

like a jackhammer walked back and forth

until the leaves were pulp.

 

You call them down from the heavenly stores,

two, gray and oiled and tense with springs,

long enough to hang just past your hips.

You call them down from the Great Assortment,

the racks and racks of choices. Strap them on

like ordnance. Swing them in your swagger.

 

A completed birth, a checked task,

you’re a wheelbarrow full of rubble.

You’re a rusted hammer in the corner,

electric with waiting. You punch holes

in the air with the noise of a jackhammer

until you suffocate in your mad work.

~ Gregory Stapp

Gregory Stapp received his BA from the University of Oklahoma and his MFA from queens University of Charlotte. His poems have appeared in Lime Hawk Journal, Shot Glass, The Ekphrastic Review, and Forage, among others. He recently served as the Poetry editor for Qu: A Literary Magazine.

Guest Editor Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review, and others. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.

Blood on the Dog’s Mouth — By Laura Lee Washburn

After dinner we have cherry pie.

We are four people from three continents.

 

The pie, thick with red, butter

crust: we are sure some old woman made it.

 

My friends say French and German

with some ease. The cherries burst under fork.

 

We drink tall glasses of iced tea

made with cool water from the kitchen tap.

 

We have come to live on the plains.

The town festival with a European name offers pie today.

 

George Washington, cherry pie, pure

dumb luck to be born in this country, and deliberate movement.

 

What must you be born to

to go out on the land against the oil machine?

 

You must love the water like life

to tie yourself to the digging machine that doesn’t stop

 

even with thin court orders. You must

know the earth is not yours to give while others

 

train dogs to tear at strangers, loose dogs trained

to tear human skin.

 

The blood on the dogs’ mouths is human blood.

 

All over America while folks sit down to dinner,

the blood on the dogs’ mouths is the human blood of water protectors.

 

Breathe through your nose not your mouth.

[Cry liiiiiiii if you still have the bloody red heart to cry it.]

#nodapl

~ 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 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. (This poem originally published at The New Verse News https://newversenews.blogspot.com/2016/09/blood-on-dogs-mouth.html.)

Guest Editor Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review, and others. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.

 

Signs and Wonders — By Michael Lasater

From my window I count seven children,

all running in different directions.

Strangers materialize, walking straight

down the center of the street ––

roofers hammer out coded messages.

 

Down the block, someone slams a door,

startling birds into riotous, swirling flight.

 

Perhaps it was a sorcerer’s door,

a door of dreams, or time, or fate ––

a door through which, in another age,

the ancient, pitying gods might come

and go, speaking in riddles, setting

the stage again and again for the hero,

the applauded savior, the chosen.

 

Imagine such a door. Imagine such gods.

It’s nearly noon. Gravity takes hold.

 

Icarus, man-child deaf to his father

and betting all on wax and muscle,

soars overhead.

~ Michael Laster

 

Hutchinson native Michael Lasater is Professor of New Media at Indiana University South Bend. With degrees from Oberlin, Juilliard, and Syracuse University, he has performed with ensembles including the Metropolitan Opera, produced documentaries on poetry, and currently exhibits art video internationally. His poetry has appeared in Kansas Time + Place.

 

Guest Editor Maril Crabtree’s latest poetry collection, Fireflies in the Gathering Dark, is a 2018 Notable Kansas Book selection. In addition to three published chapbooks, her work has appeared in Canyon Voices, Main Street Rag, Coal City Review, I-70 Review, Earth’s Daughters, and others.

Forgive me, Mother a Lamentation — By Mary Silwance

Because I want

I dominate

 

take without need

devour without hunger

guzzle without thirst

 

pretty houses

pretty things

pretty self

yielding You made ugly

for my pretties.

 

Yet on the altar of reckoning,

knife point of my own extinction,

You will ask me

 

Why do I

drown Your waters

 

slash Your forests

choke the air

Your very breath?

 

How will I answer?

 

Forgive me, Mother

 

for I wage holocaust

on Your handiwork

 

eviscerate Your contours

for coal

 

mainline Your veins and

arteries with my hubris

 

cram Your nostrils and mouth

with CAFOs until Your lungs explode

 

rape You

in order to Google you

seed Your womb

with my refuse

then sodomize Your children

for oil

 

Forgive me, Mother.

 

I am soft and spoiled

rotten with excess,

putrid even to my pretty self

 

I do not notice

salmon and swallowtail

glow in reverence of You,

rhino and orangutan

nuzzle You with affection

 

ginseng and goldenrod

exult Your essence

 

sea lion and snow leopard

pay homage to You

 

pine and sequoia’s

fragrant gratitude of You

 

before

 

I sacrifice them

on the altar

of the American Dream.

~ Mary Silwance

 

Mary Silwance is an environmentalist, gardener and mother. She served as poetry co-editor for Kansas City Voices and is a member of the Kansas City Writers Group. Her work has appeared in Konza Journal, Descansos, Heartland: Poems, Sequestrum, Well Versed, Rock Springs Review and her blog, tonicwild.

 

Guest Editor Maril Crabtree’s latest poetry collection, Fireflies in the Gathering Dark, is a 2018 Notable Kansas Book selection. In addition to three published chapbooks, her work has appeared in Canyon Voices, Main Street Rag, Coal City Review, I-70 Review, Earth’s Daughters, and others.

The Credits — By Matthew David Manning

I remember once you sat when all others stood up

and headed toward the exit. The others followed

the illuminated floor lights, a woman in uniform

held a trash bag in her hands and said, “Thank you,”

 

and not one replied, “I should be thanking you.”

It was the month God told you to appreciate,

so every time we watched a movie,

you told me I could leave if I wanted,

but you wanted to see all the credits in silence.

 

When the cleaning crew shuffled into the theater,

surprised to find people still seated, you politely

asked me what I thought of the movie while staying

with the credits like you were waiting for a sign.

~ Matthew David Manning

Matthew David Manning is an English instructor at Pittsburg State University (PSU) in the Intensive English Program. Matthew 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 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. 

So Many Towns Away — By Cody Shrum

The Kansas night sky feels like home.
Those stars soften the empty black
and comfort me, so many towns away
from home where I imagine
Mom is thinking about me.

Mom sits on the front porch, swinging
in the glider, one foot dangles.
She puffs a cigarette, tip blazing
like her chipped nail polish,
sends swirls of smoke upward
into the nothing that joins the stars.

The wind blows, the streetlight flickers
on and off and back on again.
A chained mutt down the street barks,
rusted metal clacks barely audible.
Mom is unfazed.
She’s waited all day to live this moment,
nothing left to distract her thinking.

Both her boys off to college now,
so many towns away.
The house holds less breath, so she’s turned
our bedroom lights on.
She’s scattered the house with the clothes
we left behind, to trick herself.
She’s sat in both our beds to fill the cold
blankets with some kind of warmth.
She’s checked all the channels on TV,
but nothing’s on.

Now she finishes her last cigarette.
Sips the last sips of her sweetened coffee.
Under the stars, calm, her breathing
is slow, deliberate.

Inside the phone rings.
She flicks her cigarette into the dampening grass,
grabs her slick mug, and hops inside
to find my name on the caller I.D.

~ Cody Shrum

Cody Shrum is a first-year MFA candidate studying fiction at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His poetry has appeared in such magazines as Rust + Moth, Kansas Time + Place, and velvet-tail, as well as the anthology, Kansas Time + Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry. Cody and his wife, Kylee, live in Kansas City with their two dogs, Zoey and Zeus.

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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