Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Great American Nostalgia Train — by Laura Lee Washburn

All the places we grew up have changed.

In California, you can’t get into a restaurant.

Your Virginia Beach is guarded

by four story parking garages,

and your childhood bike is still missing or stolen.

 

Here in Kansas, we aren’t expecting

East and West coast overflows any time soon—

though we have room. If they came,

we would welcome their Grocery offering fresh made sushi,

their deli counter mustards, in-store olive bars,

the good kind of sesame buns, but we go now

 

into our Walstores for a pint or a script,

not noticing the silences and absences,

the way it might appear the benevolent aliens

have finally come and opened a gateway for half

our children and folk to ascend,

leaving us not lonesome not crowded.

 

The abducted folk might have gone through the gateway

into our short pasts, the remembered simple,

rather than our futures. They might have found

egg salad in wax paper and frankfurters turning

on Ferris wheel spits, the lady at the counter

crushing limes into ade and paper straws. I have

a simple list of where America went wrong:

 

We took down the two hundred foot dunes,

dunes taller than forest. We

filled in the swamp and the wetlands for the navy,

believed too hard in plastics, dismantled

the public works, sent the photographers home,

gave the police armored machines. My list

keeps getting longer. America,

 

we took a wrong turn in 1838—no—when Adams

signed the Indian Springs—No, no Monroe,

as long as the grass shall grow, with the big lies,

with tobacco, with the Dutch and the Spanish—

Oh Europe, with your fine cafes, your clotted cream,

your tea, your coffee, pain au chocolate, what,

just what have you done?

~ 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.

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

Geese — by Ronda Miller

circle around,

fly backwards,

fail to synchronize,

flail and squawk,

eventually fall

away into space,

their instincts

as confused as my own.

 

This year an antichrist

strides, legs long enough

to reach Kansas from D.C.,

or is that New York?

 

Native Americans fight

for clean water rights

the world over, stand

their ground as others

around me shrink and smirk,

shirk family duties.

How do we triage

those we love?

Why can’t we inconvenience

ourselves, downsize our homes,

or simply ask that aged

parent for a loan,

live together as one?

 

I keep faith/presence

with like minded people,

promise myself

to continue the fight,

search the sky for geese,

who by instinct,

know where they’re going,

take flight,

and so do I.

~ 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. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

Returning to this American Gothic — by Laura Madeline Wiseman

I’m on the wrong side. You’ve forgotten your pitchfork. I’m not scowling at you, wearing a dress, or posing as your wife when really I’m your sister. You’re not wearing the bibs you don’t own. You still have all your hair. The trees behind us are not the shape of orbs and the house is one in which we never lived. We buy a magnet. We consider donning costumes. The gardener who is also the photographer who is also the cashier doesn’t mind the humidity, the cicadas’ song, the drone of tractors, or maybe semis, maybe the highway we took to get this picture. I’m looking for Rosanne Barr’s ex-husband who bought a house here once, rode a bicycle on RAGBRAI, any proof of mists that divide, impossible deaths, a possible life. You’re looking at the map in your head, the one you point to in the air showing me where we’re going next. I’m listening, practicing that magic. You’re telling me you’re the hero of this Midwestern American tale. I nod because today you are. Here we stand, side by side in Iowa, fecund and green, no pitchfork between us, just our hands.

~ Laura Madeline Wiseman

From An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX [books] 2016).

Also appeared in California Ekphrasis, January 2016.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of 25 books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Booklist. Her collaborative book Intimates and Fools is a Nebraska Book Award 2015 Honor Book. Her latest book is Velocipede. She teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

You Can’t Write Poetry About Things That Happened a Week Ago — By Gary Jackson

one of my students tell me / during a class exercise / it’s not a statement / but one of those half- questions they sometimes ask / wondering / if I’ll reaffirm or challenge / their still-blossoming understanding / of what they can / cannot do / it’s like comedy / if it makes people laugh / it’s as simple as that / that’s one answer / here’s another / when evil Captain America picks up Thor’s hammer / the crowd goes wild / with rage / how can the newly-christened fascist / nazi / hydra / hate-monger / be worthy / be righteous / imagine 1941 / Captain America socks the Fuhrer / Captain America tosses his shield / through nazi death machines / Captain America’s on the front line in Normandy / America liberates the POWs / the camps / America comes home / to parades and comic strips / America’s frozen in ice / America / thaws out / America socks Iron Man / America body slams the Red Skull / Hitler’s clone / America fights / the war on terror / America cleans up the debris / America points his red mesh glove towards the next jaw to punch / America’s fighting the good fight / America dies / comes back / will be / great again / America patrols the border / America visits the Middle East / America stops the terrorists / America stops the plane / America forgets his name / America hails hydra / like magic / America turns / America socks Iron Man / America kills / America doesn’t want you to know / America wants a secret empire / America’s gonna make record sales / America is just what you thought he was / would be / could be again / America happened a week ago / America was never your favorite hero

Gary Jackson , born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, is the author of the poetry collection Missing You, Metropolis, which received the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Callaloo, Tin House, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of both a Cave Canem and Bread Loaf fellowship, and an associate poetry editor at Crazyhorse. He currently teaches in the MFA program at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC.

Izzy Wasserstein is a Lecturer in English at Washburn University. Izzy is the author of the poetry collection This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, and has published in Crab Orchard Review, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Izzy shares a home with Nora E. Derrington, a cat, and three dogs, and believes in the power of resistance.

Blueberries — By Annette Hope Billings

Awash in deep color,

settled in ceramic bowl,

they lay full ripe and succulent,

skins pressed against glazed sides of dish.

Ready to burst open, spill,

with slightest provocation,

to imbrue fingers, color mouths

of those who adore dark berries.

 

Content to wear midnight blue,

they consider themselves radiant,

and insist they are a hue

to which even blatant red must bow.

 

Not inclined to sweetness,

they revel in approaching tart,

and only when they fancy,

give consent to be plucked,

juiced, blended, crushed—

to allow their contents to be spread.

 

Opulent indigo orbs,

gathered to sate desire.

While anxious hordes

in crisp business whites,

give generous berth,

I scoop great handfuls,

eat, eager to be entirely stained.

~ Annette Hope Billings

Annette Hope Billings is an poet/actress/playwright, who has written two poetry collections. In 2015, she stepped away from four decades of nursing to writing full-time. Her most recent collection of poetry, A Net Full of Hope, was published last year, garnering her a readers’-proposed title of “Maya of the Midwest.”

Izzy Wasserstein is a Lecturer in English at Washburn University. Izzy is the author of the poetry collection This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, and has published in Crab Orchard Review, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Izzy shares a home with Nora E. Derrington, a cat, and three dogs, and believes in the power of resistance.

Santa Fe Trail — By Chris O’Carroll

The Conestoga wagon wheels that rolled

Through here more than a century ago

Left scars still visible, so I’ve been told,

Ruts I might make out if I squint just so.

Peering at prairie grass, I fail to find

The tracks laid down when history passed this way.

What if those marks are figments (like that line

In Casablanca Bogart doesn’t say),

Ghost imprints on collective memory,

Where folklore’s legend-laden wagon train

Detours or shortcuts past reality

While an imagined soundtrack plays again?

Yet a nearby ground-nesting meadowlark,

Unseen, is trilling notes that bid me mark.

~ Chris O’Carroll

(originally published in The Chimaera under the title “Santa Fe Trail, Kansas“)

Chris O’Carroll is a writer and an actor.  His poems have appeared in 14 by 14, Light, Literary Review, Measure, The Rotary Dial, and other print and online journals, and in the anthologies The Best of the Barefoot Muse and 20 Years at the Cantab Lounge.

Izzy Wasserstein is a Lecturer in English at Washburn University. Izzy is the author of the poetry collection This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, and has published in Crab Orchard Review, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Izzy shares a home with Nora E. Derrington, a cat, and three dogs, and believes in the power of resistance.

West of Here — By Lisa Hase-Jackson

I wake in my mother’s guest bedroom

beneath stormy skies and diminishing rain

 

that so often characterize mid-summer

in Kansas City. It is the first of July.

 

Outside, varied configurations of limestone

homes & tree-canopied walks,

 

welcome me as if I belong here,

if only for the morning, as surely as the walnut
tree in front & the crack in the sidewalk

gaining prominence each year I visit. Tomorrow

 

I’ll travel west across prairies dotted

with round bales & abandoned farmhouses
past ditches peppered with wildflowers,

botanical names lost to a former self, a vague past.

 

Friends wait in Topeka, restless with resentment

or divorcing. I go to visit David, dying

 

of liver failure, a gift from the Goodyear plant

to supplement his early, if brief, retirement.

~ Lisa Hase-Jackson

 

Lisa Hase-Jackson earned her M.A. in English from Kansas State University and an M.F.A. in poetry from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Her award winning poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals, anthologies, and online magazines including The Midwest Quarterly, Kansas City Voices, Kansas Time and Place, Fall Lines, Sin Fronteras, and is forthcoming in I-70 Review. Born in Portland, Oregon and raised primarily in the Midwest, Lisa is a traveler at heart and has spent her adult years living and writing in such locations as Anyang, South Korea, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Spoleto, Italy. Her current perch is Charleston, South Carolina where she teaches Introduction to Poetry and Honors English at the College of Charleston. Lisa is managing editor for ZingaraPoet.net and 200 New Mexico Poems, a project she initiated while living in Albuquerque.

Izzy Wasserstein is a Lecturer in English at Washburn University. Izzy is the author of the poetry collection This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, and has published in Crab Orchard Review, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Izzy shares a home with Nora E. Derrington, a cat, and three dogs, and believes in the power of resistance.

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