Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

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Mohammed Reads Poetry – by Diane Wahto

 

At the peace poetry reading, we gather

in the crowded coffee house, poets

who have written poems of peace.

We recite our pieces to applause,

nod and take a seat. Mohammed,

there with his dark-haired, dark-

eyed wife, distributes his poems,

written in Urdu and English, speaks

in Urdu, a melodic language, intricate

as the architecture of his homeland,

then turns to English, a language

created to deliver straight-forward

words. Urdu is heard, Mohammed’s

accent still strong, even after years

of living in America. Poems of love,

of joyous parties, of family, of land,

lift us, make us smile. After, we gather

around, talk about the next time, freed

from the darkness outside the windows

of the brightly lit coffee shop.

 

Diane Wahto received an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University in 1985 and has been writing poetry ever since. Her latest publication, “Empty Corners,” is in the spring 2017 issue of Same. She was co-editor of 365 Days, an anthology of the 365 Facebook page poets. She lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Patrick Roche and their dog Annie.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is President of the Kansas Authors Club. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book.

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The Undocumented – by Thomas Locicero

Guthrie addressed the “deportees” by name;
The undocumented are far less blessed.
In shadow and light, they hide, Pride and Shame,
As dead, without lament, headstone, or rest.

They’ve not raised-seal certificates of birth
Or nine-digit cards that voice who they are,
No forms to confirm residence on Earth;
Though here, still irretrievably afar.

It would seem, then, they can be who they choose to,
But they cannot be who they were meant to be.
And if hiding is all that they’re used to,
If safety is invisibility,

How does one incent their civil order
When Heaven resides this side of the border?

 

Thomas Locicero’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Roanoke Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Long Island Quarterly, Jazz Cigarette, Antarctica Journal, Hobart, Ponder Review, vox poetica, Poetry Pacific, Brushfire, Indigo Lit, Saw Palm, Fine Lines, New Thoreau Quarterly, and Birmingham Arts Journal, among others. He resides in Broken Arrow, OK.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is President of the Kansas Authors Club. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book.

The Doorway — by Gregory Stapp

A door is not always a door.

Understand, for me it’s sometimes a bridge

over the frozen creek or a wall against the wind

propped up against the dumpster bay

like a mean city lean-to.

I slept on a bunch of books once.

Spent all afternoon lining them up:

seven wide and fourteen deep,

about five high, depending,

with a divot in the middle.

They became a warm, firm mattress

where I found a poem called

The Oven Bird and dreamt the night

of Thanksgiving’s past and realized

on waking I’d forgotten how to sing.

I love words for their descriptions of things,

in the way they’re used like doors. I used to be

a man. I love poetry, the leaning music,

for being mattresses, or fuel

for the fire; for reminding me to sing

in a way the city didn’t mean to.

~ 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.

William Sheldon lives in Hutchinson, Kansas where he teaches and writes. His poetry and prose have been published widely in such journals as Blue Mesa Review, Columbia, New Letters, and Prairie Schooner. He is the author of two books of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley, 2002) and Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth, 2011), as well as a chapbook, Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill, 2009). Retrieving Old Bones was a Kansas City Star Noteworthy Book for 2002 and is listed as one of the Great Plains Alliance’s Great Books of the Great Plains.

Mother of Exiles — By Tava Miller

On May 20, several poets shared poems in resonance with the 1962 Brown Vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that ended school segregation as part of the Voices of Freedom festival held in downtown Topeka. Here is a poem delivered and written by Tava Miller.

Just the other day I stood frozen

As I watched children being separated from their mother

As I watched  this family weep for one another, I began to wonder

If I weep with them, would I be next?

Should I hold my tongue’s dialect and pray that my silence grants me Asylum in a country that already treats me like I don’t belong here?

I too, belong here.

Dear Mr Trump,

How dare you tear families apart and call it security!?

I’m more afraid of the obscurity of hatred you express in 140 characters or less

Than skin sun-kissed like sand

Beautiful, but banned

The irony…

Brown skin synonymous with bombs

But when have wars ever began with anything other than white privilege?

It’s sickening how your so-called “agenda” means suffering for all of us

Maybe it’s because this was never your land to begin with

And everybody knows old habits die slow

Do you even know what a good night’s rest feels like anymore?

I mean you must be haunted by the ghosts of all the bodies whose blood you now carry on your hands

Broken bones are buried in your back yard

And white supremacy alive and well

This is not the story I plan to tell my grandchildren one day

Instead I want to say that I spoke louder than I ever had before when a nation tried to silence me while sending families back to war zones

I will teach them that their own brown skin embodied voices are beautiful

And that whenever the discussion of humanity arises

They can hold their head up high because they too have every right to sing along to the song we call America.

~ Tava Miller

Tava Miller writes, “I was raised in Topeka KS. I have performed my poetry in cities across the nation. Always had a love for words. My work mostly focuses on social justices and adversity. I hope that my work inspires others to find the courage to use their own voices.”

Conversation After Love — By Catherine Anderson

In that fragrant pool

a bisque light hovers.

We speak of our separate

grandparents, how they appeared

in the mundane grain of life,

tapping the wall to find a light switch,

folding softened sheets of the bed

they made for us—your ancestor,

my ancestor, their simple acts.

After love, before parting, our

breath released as one apparition,

our conjoined air accepting the transfer

of time and its diminishment,

we’re spent, we’re tired, we follow

any direction the conversation takes.

And those people from whom

we descend—ghosts riding

ghosts, alike but unknown

to each other, the plank road

they traveled or the wooden

turnstile passed through.

How we’ve held them in our minds

our whole lives: pocket watch,

handkerchief, coal stove,

two grey citizens glimpsed

those mornings on what

would each be their last bed.

~ Catherine Anderson

Catherine Anderson’s most recent poetry collection is Woman with a Gambling Mania (Mayapple Press). She is a Pushcart Prize winner (November 2017). Her poems have appeared in the I-70 Review, the Southern Review and others. She lives in Kansas City where she works with area refugee communities.

Guest Editor Maril Crabtree holds B.A, M.A., and J.D. degrees from the University of Kansas and has taught French, English, therapeutic writing, yoga, and sustainable living. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have been published in numerous journals, along with three chapbooks. Her full-length collection, Fireflies in the Gathering Dark, will be published in August, 2017.

Ideas/Gardens by Thomas Fox Averill

averill-tomLongwood Botanical Garden, Pennsylvania:

The Idea Garden demonstrates plants and plantings,

juxtapositions and designs, for home gardeners.

 

Every Botanical Garden is an Idea Garden,

every gardener a home gardener.

 

Nature, expressing itself, element

by element, is an Idea Garden.

 

Live near a Botanical Garden: your neighborhood

will lean toward it, as though a plant learning the sun.

 

Plants, design features, walls, fountains, plantings,

will escape the garden walls and sneak into nearby yards.

 

The Botanical Garden, swept and manicured:

such Godliness promotes cleanliness for blocks and blocks.

 

Your clean neighborhood will make a nice entryway

to that destination, the Botanical Garden.

 

Take a cutting from, find a seed in, the Botanical Garden:

so planted, your neighborhood will be a Botanical Garden.

 

The seeds in your boot treads will take root as you visit

the Botanical Garden, which will then become your neighborhood.

 

The butterfly in your bush, the bird in your redbud,

fly into the Botanical Garden without boundaries.

 

Colorful wings flutter, birdsong warbles,

humming wings nudge their way into any flower.

 

The Botanical Garden, your neighborhood, earth

and sky, are one place. Nature is one place.

 

All Ideas welcomed into this garden.

~ Thomas Fox Averill

An O. Henry Award story writer, Thomas Fox Averill is Writer-in-Residence at Washburn University of Topeka, KS. His novel, rode, published by the University of New Mexico Press, was named Outstanding Western Novel of 2011 as part of the Western Heritage Awards. His recent work, “Garden Plots,” consists of poems, meditations, and short-short stories about gardens, gardeners, garden design, plants, and the human relationship to nature.  His most recent novel is A Carol Dickens Christmas, which won the Byron Caldwell Smith Award from the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas, and was named a Kansas Notable Book in 2015.

Tyler Sheldon earned his MA in English at Emporia State University, where he taught English Composition and received the 2016 Charles E. Walton Graduate Essay Award. His poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Quiddity International Literary Journal, Thorny Locust, and other journals. Sheldon is a two-time AWP Intro Journals Award nominee, and has appeared on Kansas Public Radio.

Aunt Mar Changes How We See by Kim Stafford

Kim StaffordShe had taken to having naps

most afternoons in the side parlor

while the TV flickered, muttered

brash fuss or hush of snow

 

as the long hours rounded into dusk,

so dear Mar, when we found her,

lay settled in the easy chair where her

soft light had stepped to the window,

 

slipped free through the cold clear panes,

passed lively into the buds of cottonwood,

her whispered “Yes” to wind and stars,

her way with folding hands, learned young

 

by lasting through the thirties, by raising nine

alone, by dealing books to hungry eyes in school,

by feeding us on the stove named Detroit Jewel,

her winsome prayers at times both hard and good

 

gone deep to the loyal roots of hickory, her calm

to elm reaching over the long prairie road

that joins the there of her

to the here of us, until it all

 

turns inside out, and through the world

beyond all trouble to core affections, no matter

how far or strange, we now see our days

by the gentle gaze of Mar.

~ Kim Stafford

Kim Stafford is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, where he has taught writing since 1979, and is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft and A Thousand Friends of Rain: New & Selected Poems.  His most recent books are 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared, and Wind on the Waves: Stories from the Oregon Coast.

Tyler Sheldon earned his MA in English at Emporia State University, where he taught English Composition and received the 2016 Charles E. Walton Graduate Essay Award. His poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Quiddity International Literary Journal, Thorny Locust, and other journals. Sheldon is a two-time AWP Intro Journals Award nominee, and has appeared on Kansas Public Radio.

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