Nostalgia                                                                                 by Denise Low

Father drives our Studebaker downtown to the bakery
          for applesauce doughnuts, fresh out of the oven at nine.

We enter the store. Details of this moment sixty years ago
          return: cinnamon and cloves, glazed icing barely set,

yeasty sugary dough warm all the way down to my belly.
          One of the best times with my father. He was sober.

Maybe maples had turned scarlet in this village of brick streets.
          Maybe I remember because trees turn red again.
 
The white sack in his hand crumples over a baker’s dozen.
          Jingles clatter as we open the door to leave.

Without looking up the woman says, “Hurry back.”
          Father shuts the door behind him without a word.
Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, won Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light: Poems. Other books are Turtle’s Beating Heart, memoir (U. of Nebraska Press) and Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan). She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and other recognition. She teaches in Baker University’s MLA program.
November’s guest editor, Ronda Miller, is a former State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her book, I Love the Child (2019, Kellogg Press) won first place for Children’s Books at the 2020 Kansas Author’s Club State Convention. Miller wanders The Arikaree Breaks every chance she gets.

Turquoise Ring                                                                        by Olive Sullivan

Native Americans use turquoise as a powerful healing tool
connecting heaven and earth. It is associated with personal protection.


This is all about forgetting,
but in my dreams, he is remembering.
In my dream, he says,
I guess I’ll never wear that turquoise ring again.
I don’t even know where it is.
—You gave it to me a few years ago, I say.
Remember?
He doesn’t. Did you ever get it fixed?
—Yes, I used to wear it all the time,
like you.
It’s too big now, or maybe I am too small.

The dream follows me all day.
My dad doesn’t remember who I am.
I search my jewelry stash for the ring.
Late that night, under the waxing crescent moon,
I drive to my parents’ house.
I creep through the front door,
creep down the dark hallway,
creep into their bedroom.
Kneeling by the bed,
I slip the turquoise ring
under Dad’s side of the mattress.
I creep into his dreams.
I whisper, Remember. Please remember.
Olive L. Sullivan loves to walk on the prairie with her dogs. She travels anywhere that requires a passport. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in journals including, A Room of One's Own, The Little Balkans Review, The Midwest Quarterly, two anthologies, and in her full-length poetry collection, Wandering Bone (Meadowlark Books, 2017).
November’s guest editor, Ronda Miller, is a former State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her book, I Love the Child (2019, Kellogg Press) won first place for Children’s Books at the 2020 Kansas Author’s Club State Convention. Miller wanders The Arikaree Breaks every chance she gets.

I shall never see                                                                         by Cei Loofe

I was there, watching him, 
And everything that day was comfortable.
Except that day.
She was alive when the week started, 
But it is Saturday now and I am standing knee deep in plastic flowers and tombstones,
Watching him feel the air tug and push with each heavy,
Family-tree-splintering 
Breath he takes. 
I am an unwelcome guest, 
Watching him shed apple-blossom tears as she whispers into the wind.
I stand there anyway, his graft-borne, hybrid fruit.
I am a mango tree in an apple wood forest. 
I am not my father’s son.
But I am his child. 
I know this today. 

The letters written back to home spoke about the weather, 
If Vietnam would end any time soon,
How many words the kid could say, 
And that he skipped crawling altogether and just started walking. 
He gets into everything now. 
It was three years before he could write my name in one of those letters.
Seven before he could tell me he loved me. 
Almost 40 before I believed him. 

I am his offspring. He is not my kin. 
But like Christmas eve hold outs, trying to catch Santa in the act, I spied on his grief,
And I heard conversations spoken by dead relatives laid to rest, 
Too restless to get any sleep..
And I began to weep as his mother scolded him for not visiting more. 
She knew he wasn’t busy, but she understood. 
Grandpa rolled over in his grave, raised his spirited eyebrows and coughed,
And when his wife paused, distracted, said, “I am sorry, son.”

In a world where apples don’t fall far from their trees, 
What when the apple tree bears mangos? What then? 
Tropical fruit bruises easy, 
But so does fruit ripened on home soil.
It took me a long time to learn that. 
I am not his boy. 
But he is my father.
And now he is the top of his tree, 
All the upper branches have broken and blown off into folklore and myth. 
And I stood there.
Watching him learn to feel the loneliness that having no more relatives brings.
I have known that feeling for a long time.
He is not my father.
But I am here, standing knee deep in plastic flowers and tombstones, learning to
Be his son, not by bloodline, but by tree line.
See, I was never a gleam in his eye.
Never someone he planned for, 
But when mother wanted to take my life from me, 
father gave it back to me.
A young man with less than half the years I have now.
He is my father, I am his child.
And I stood there.
And he stood there, 
Grief ridged and empty and my arms reached out to him,
Mango tree branches entangling in an apple wood forest.
And everything that day wasn’t comfortable.
But it’s getting there.

Cei Loofe is more of an artist than a writer since his adventure with a catastrophic disease and injury early last year. He is slowly putting #2 lead back to paper. Loofe lives in Seward, NE with his dog, Shelly, and dislikes Okra intensely. Contact him at cei.loofe@gmail.com

November’s guest editor Ronda Miller is a former State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her book, I Love the Child (2019, Kellogg Press) won first place for Children’s Books at the 2020 Kansas Author’s Club State Convention. Miller wanders The Arikaree Breaks every chance she gets.

Winter Walk                                                                               by Cheryl Heide

I follow
His lanky frame
Leap from one
Deep snow print
To another

My little girl self
Darting under twisted fingers
Of leafless branches 
Along frozen obscurity
Of ice water

A winter hike
Along the Solomon
River of my father’s boyhood
Pathway of adventure
Exploration and danger

My breath catches
Holds watching 
His ax strike down
Cracking ice into
Prism veins

Winds blow snow clear
Reveal isinglass windows
To the river’s world below
Among emerald vines fish swim
Tree limbs sway in currents

He beckons 
Says all is safe
Urges me to come see
The wondrous 
River’s world 

Cautious steps
Sharp cracks
Echo down the valley
The river protests
Intrusion

In blind faith
I follow
In trust I deny fear
Love for him
So great

I am safe, warm
This bitter winter day
Know he is Protector Guardian
My father
And yet...

Years later in deep night’s sleep
I see my face
Flowing with the river
Under clear ice
Amid red and golden leaves

Cheryl Heide’s writings feature her life and a love of people, nature, and animals. Their lyrical quality reflects her musical interests. Retired from work in strategic planning and organization, she lives on a farm near Baldwin City. Her writings have appeared in anthologies, national magazines, travel guides, and Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

November’s guest editor Ronda Miller is a former State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her book, I Love the Child (2019, Kellogg Press) won first place for Children’s Books at the 2020 Kansas Author’s Club State Convention. Miller wanders The Arikaree Breaks every chance she gets.

Poem for the Mothers                                                             by John Dorsey

some of you dead
some hit by buses
on urgent street corners
some with skin as yellow
as a dying tulip
some with stomachs still growing
in a race with history
glowing with beauty
as the leaves blow with abandon
as each step leads you
further from the past
 
& somehow you’ve gotten younger
& I’ve aged a thousand years
just standing here
in front of the tree
outside your house
as the leaves blow loud
like invisible trumpets
with their rat a tat tat
on the siding
of every heart
 
a faded tattoo
carved into every
tree lined street
 
every memory
was once bright
before it became
a dying star.

John Dorsey is the author of Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019), Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020), and Afterlife Karaoke (Crisis Chronicles, 2021). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize. He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.

November’s guest editor Ronda Miller is a former State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her book, I Love the Child (2019, Kellogg Press) won first place for Children’s Books at the 2020 Kansas Author’s Club State Convention. Miller wanders The Arikaree Breaks every chance she gets.

Wonton Soup                                                                           by Kerry Moyer

Phoenix served wonton soup,
looked me in the eye,
asked if he'd been drinking,
if he'd blown the rent.
 
I looked away, said yes,
lifted the spoon to my lips.
 
Later, father threw me against
the neighbor's house, cocked
his fist. I cocked my eyes, cocked
my mouth, said, “Do it, and you
will never see me again!”
He broke. He cried.
 
I walked to Casey's
for a coke, dried my tears,
wiped rage from my eyes.

Kerry Moyer is a Kansas poet and the author of three poetry collections, Dirt Road (2019) , Rust & Weeds (2020) and Turnpike Prairie (2021), all through Kellogg Press. Kerry is a member of the Emporia Writers Group and Kansas Authors Club. Moyer resides in Emporia, Kansas, with his wife Sarah and their children, Edward and Miles.

November’s guest editor Ronda Miller is a former State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her book, I Love the Child (2019, Kellogg Press) won first place for Children’s Books at the 2020 Kansas Author’s Club State Convention. Miller wanders The Arikaree Breaks every chance she gets.

No Obligation to Enjoy the Weather                                 by Robert Stewart

Been stranded out in snow before—
stepped lightly on the bare places, hoping
for frozen ground, avoiding slush, wind, 
 
a fir-tree limb speared into the yard.  Today,
a friend calls the office and says look up 
the weather—yellow-ball sun, cartoon-cloud free, 
 
wind 5 mph, and to the left of the flat screen 
a window so blue even the grime clears enough 
it must be, and is, 57 late February, rain 0%.
 
My plans Sunday to read the “Wondrous Love”
essay by Marilynne Robinson stalled by word
of clemency.  Ice returns at sunset, 
 
say forecasters in present tense, so Midwest
conditions reveal a seasonal mix of time present
and snow any moment, as if our technology-mediated 
 
life on this planet, says Robinson, has deprived us 
of the brilliance of a bright sky and more—
think about the smell and companionship
 
of mules and horses, she says; and so I am
thinking my chickens are out scratching
among dry grasses, their feathery butts 
 
raised pointedly, as Robinson and time 
agree, The Bible is terse, the gospels brief . . . 
every moment and detail merits pondering.  
 
I read the day’s instructions: Love 
thy chickens, as they have been given 
a breeze that lifts their down, and I the book.

Robert Stewart’s latest book of poems is Working Class (2018, Stephen F. Austin State Univ.); his latest collection of essays is The Narrow Gate: Writing, Art & Values (2014, Serving House).  For many years, he edited New Letters quarterly, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Guest Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, two full-lengths, and coauthor of four split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Smoke in the Distance                                                                 by William Sheldon

We stoke the wood stove at the patio’s
edge, pull our chairs a little closer,
tug the Mexican blankets a little tighter
The cold dark beer is bitter.
We like the bite, the way
one does in later days, sensation
welcomed.
      Smoke rises
on the near horizon confirming
life in the distance, night
and winter coming on.

“Smoke in the Distance” was first published in Flint Hill Review

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas. Books of poetry include Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley), Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill) and Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth).  A new full-length collection, Deadman, is forthcoming from Spartan Press. He plays bass for the band The Excuses.

 Guest Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, two full-lengths, and coauthor of four split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Happiness                                                                                                 by Pat Daneman

Today I have no expectations—the world 
will go on as the world would if I were not in it. 
As if I were this boy fishing in the creek,
 
wanting terribly to catch a fish, but going on his way 
undamaged when no fish finds his hook. His footprints 
leave mud on the path, disappear in the flicker 
 
between sun and shade, and no one knows
that he has walked there, softly
adding words to a made-up tune.

Pat Daneman’s poetry is widely published, most recently in Moon City Review, I-70 Review, Atlas & Alice, Freshwater and Typehouse. Her full-length poetry collection, After All (FutureCycle Press 2018), was first runner up for the 2019 Thorpe-Menn Award and a finalist for the Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award. She is author of a chapbook, Where the World Begins and co-librettist of the oratorio, We, the Unknown, premiered by the Heartland Men’s Chorus in 2018. She lives in Candia, NH. For more, visit patdaneman.com.

Guest Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, two full-lengths, and coauthor of four split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Clarity                                                                                             by Roy Beckemeyer

“…notes
adults have trouble
hitting, holding”
—Kevin Rabas, “Easy for Me”
 
Our notes of childhood
ring out clear and higher
than our post-pubescent
drones, sing, still, somewhere
across the dimensions
of time, out of synch,
now with the photon-
painted gold-toned movies
of our lives, the flurry
of image and sound
complicated sinewave
mixtures that refract
and reflect and sliver
through slits to devolve
into constituent colors
and notes pure as carefree
days where you and I
run through light bright
with promise, heads high
and voices brilliant
with the clarion-clarity
of youth recalled.

Roy Beckemeyer’s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar). Stage Whispers (2018, Meadowlark) won the 2019 Nelson Poetry Book Award. Music I Once Could Dance To (2014, Coal City) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. Roy Beckemeyer has designed and built airplanes, discovered and named fossils of Palaeozoic insect species, and once traveled the world. Beckemeyer lives with and for his wife of 60 years, Pat, in Wichita, Kansas.

 Guest Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, two full-lengths, and coauthor of four split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.