Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

The heat from the field on my face, it leaned
towards me, the way we lean towards something
we want, need. It was that way the first time
we met. The space between growing smaller
each time, the way bees hover until they land,
a series of small meetings and partings.

And, if you’ve walked down the path of heat,
you place your feet carefully and watch it move
and change everything it touches. Here, there’s
no space, but a line from where things lived
and stopped, and I prayed it wouldn’t notice
me if I stepped lightly and towards what I knew.

~Julie Ramon

Julie Ramon is an English instructor, specializing in English as a second language, at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. She also teaches academic writing at Crowder College in Missouri. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband, son and daughter.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work often features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She was a 2016-17 writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. In 2017, Hall curated the first international visual art exhibition featuring beneficial bacterial as the subject matter and medium of artists of disparate disciplines and scientists whose work crosses boundaries into artistic expression.

As an art writer and scholar, Hall’s peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

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Ralvell Roger II

Somewhere far in the distance,
our orange and pink dawn
breaks into flashes.
Sporadically tearing
our sky into ashes,
lightning strikes
our cumulonimbus bond.
In some hell far away from
blue skies and
our little clouds that always ask,
“Why?”
our storm rages on,
and we’re roaring thunder.
until we float away from each other,
and the sky that we built

~Ralvell Rogers II

Ralvell Rogers II is a senior English major creative writing minor at Emporia State University (ESU) where he works as tutor/editor for the William Allen White Library Writing Center, and is active president of the Black Writer’s Club. His work has been accepted and published by local journal, Tittynope Zine, and the ESU literary journal, Quivira.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work often features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She was a 2016-17 writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. In 2017, Hall curated the first international visual art exhibition featuring beneficial bacterial as the subject matter and medium of artists of disparate disciplines and scientists whose work crosses boundaries into artistic expression.

As an art writer and scholar, Hall’s peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

Jeff-Worley

Jeff Worley

We lie together after good love,
passing from hand to hand
the currency of touch,
our mutual fund.
Though I’m spent I’m full
of a warm emptiness,
watching you scratch
behind an ear and stretch
like a well-endowed trust.
Oh preferred holding,
you make me rise
like a blue chip stock
in this joint merger–
the dividends from this
incorporation of flesh!
Legal tender, most tangible
asset, ours has never been
a stock exchange, this
timely profit-taking,
this sweet commerce.

~Jeff Worley

[first appeared in The Beloit Poetry Journal]

Jeff Worley, born and raised in Wichita, was the second graduate of the Wichita State MFA program (1975). He is extremely grateful to Bruce Cutler, founder of the program, for his invaluable help with early fledgling poems. Jeff has published 10 collections of poetry, the most recent, A Little Luck, winner of the 2012 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press. Now retired from the University of Kentucky, he and his wife, Linda, split their time between Lexington and their Cave Run Lake cabin.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work often features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She was a 2016-17 writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. In 2017, Hall curated the first international visual art exhibition featuring beneficial bacterial as the subject matter and medium of artists of disparate disciplines and scientists whose work crosses boundaries into artistic expression.

As an art writer and scholar, Hall’s peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

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Maril Crabtree

He hears her murmurs as he moves
down the hall after dinner each night.

They call to him like church bells or
a distant muezzin’s chant. She hums

tuneless mantras that seem in rhythm
with his wheels. He steadies his walker

with one hand and opens her door
with the other. Hugs, smiles, kisses.

No words. They have all disappeared
into another realm. But the kisses

linger, their lips still a faithful trail
to communion, body and soul.

~Maril Crabtree

Maril Crabtree lives in the Midwest and writes poetry, creative nonfiction, reviews, and occasional short fiction. Her work has appeared in Canyon Voices, Main Street Rag, Coal City Review, and others. She is a former poetry editor for Kansas City Voices.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work often features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She was a 2016-17 writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. In 2017, Hall curated the first international visual art exhibition featuring beneficial bacterial as the subject matter and medium of artists of disparate disciplines and scientists whose work crosses boundaries into artistic expression.

As an art writer and scholar, Hall’s peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

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Melissa Fite Johnson

When I was five my friend answered me:
Her skin was dark because
she bathed in special oils. Her mother’s
heavy accent scolded her lie, but

I didn’t know what it was like
for classmates to ask to touch my hair,
the way I ask passersby
on my nightly walk if I can pet their dog.

~Melissa Fite Johnson

Melissa Fite Johnson received her Master’s in English literature from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. Her first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. Her poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, The New Verse News, velvet-tail, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas. For more, visit melissafitejohnson.com.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work often features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She was a 2016-17 writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. In 2017, Hall curated the first international visual art exhibition featuring beneficial bacterial as the subject matter and medium of artists of disparate disciplines and scientists whose work crosses boundaries into artistic expression.

As an art writer and scholar, Hall’s peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

 

It is after dinner and I go to shake
the crumbs from the tablecloth.
They fall down onto the porch steps

for the crickets and the mice and ants.
We live in a great country
there is enough for all.

The tablecloth unfurls lightly on the held breath
of the still fall night air
and it seems to me to be like a flag

with the blue stripe all around the border
and the blue stripe enclosing the field at center
a field which encloses some flowers

but could not hold in even all the flowers
since some of them have escaped
and drifted, as on water or a breeze

toward the bright blue border.
It is the flag of the friendly country
where even the vermin have enough to eat

and I’m waving it from my porch for you.
I want you to come and join me
and my family, I want you to sit

at my table and have bread and lasagna with us
so we can talk about the war and the taxes.
I want you to help me shake crumbs on the porch

I want to wash it and iron it and fold it safely
to place it gently and with respect in the drawer
for our next dinner when we will not have

marched under any other flag
for I know you could not be a traitor to me
we will all be so insanely happy

we had not yet had to die for any cause.
I want you to spill your wine
I want you to get bread crumbs on my flag.

 

[Initially self-published in When There Wasn’t Any War, The Backwaters Press, 1987, with ½ proceeds donated to Nebraskans for Peace. Anthologized in A Sandhills Reader: Thirty years of great writing from the Great Plains, Mark Sanders, Ed., Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2015. Anthologized in Nebraska Poetry; A Sesquicentennial Anthology, Daniel Simon, Ed., Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2017. Forward by Twyla Hansen, Nebraska State Poet. Included in Leaving Things Unfinished: Forty-some Years of Poems, (Selected Poems), Mark Sanders, Ed., Sandhills Press, scheduled for 2018 publication.]

Greg Kosmicki is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poems. He founded The Backwaters Press in 1997 and is Emeritus Editor. He and his wife, Debbie, are parents of three and grandparents of two. Greg has been involved in peace and justice and anti-war efforts since the early 1980s.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016. His latest book, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) contains ekphrastic poems, inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels, that “resound and sometimes subvert expectations” (Tyler Robert Sheldon), that provide “a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday” (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg).

 

on the high plains, descended from mountains and foothills.
This is a hymn for foothills, twenty miles upstream; an incantation for mountains both
shining and dark; navy blue; unearthly green.
This is Hosanna! for erosion and differential resistance
and disintegration stone by pebble by grain
in the wind. And the rain. In snow. And ice.
This is praisesong for freezing and cracking, an orison for Old Red Sandstone losing its grip.
This is a Kyrie for letting go: eleison of return, oxygen from leaves, plainsong of snowfall from blizzard clouds; speaking in tongues for run-off at snowmelt.
This is a mandala for creeks threading east and west,
a burnt offering for gravity—pilgrimage along the path of least resistance.
This is riparian adoration—for cottonwoods making their way one at a time, procession of ash and elm following; sycamore; currant bushes; forbs and grasses, bluestem and grama.
This is a charm for natural flooding along green rivers, brown streams, sunburned creeks.
This is a novena for trees accused of taking too much water after the dam has been built, the stream diverted, the irrigation allotment overspent in ever-widening circles of evaporation.
This is a rosary for roots holding earthen banks in their grip, a lorica for their leaved branches keeping the water cool—the catfish, the bullhead, the bass—for holding algae at bay.
This is an Alleleuia! for shade and shelter, for life breathed back into the world. Amen! Blessed Be! along the river, the creek, the stream, the field. . .

 

Kathleen Cain is a native Nebraskan who has lived in Colorado since 1972. Her nonfiction book The Cottonwood Tree: An American Champion (2007) was selected for the Nebraska 150 Books Project. Two of her poems appeared in Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867-2017.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016. His latest book, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) contains ekphrastic poems, inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels, that “resound and sometimes subvert expectations” (Tyler Robert Sheldon), that provide “a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday” (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg).

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