Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Now that it’s legal for us to marry

I wonder if you and I have become glass:

We’re there—but maybe not—

transparent unless held up to the light

turned so the glow from some lamp glances off

to show us all those years ago

in bed falling asleep holding hands

in our kitchen leaning together as you stir a pot

in our living room dancing in bare feet

sitting on the floor outside our toddler’s room

because it’s 2 a.m., he won’t stop crying,

all the books say let him cry until he falls asleep.

We last a whole five minutes before barging in.

I pick him up, you curl around us both

and together we sing him to sleep.

 

If some stranger should come close enough

to brush a hand against the thin sheet of our lives

he might catch on the moment

we arrived home from the doctor to see

every ceramic pot you ever brought to life (except one)

on the floor in pieces, probably knocked off the table

by our cat who inspected them after you left them there

because we were late for the appointment

where the doctor said your cancer had come back.

 

You picked up that last pot, held it so long I thought:

it’s ok. she’s handling this

then threw it down to smash

shards skittering across the tile.

You leaned on the tabletop, inhaled.

I was thankful to be there to hold tight

as you shook in my arms

on that day 22 years before

we could marry

three months before

you were dead.

 

We all die.

 

Every love that doesn’t end

in argument ends in death.

Yet I can’t help but worry:

What will happen to we

who were forbidden

to sign the book of marriage?

Generations of our families

have already been wiped clean

from time. Will you and I become

another glass shattered?

 

Will all our pieces be left behind?

 

~ Diane Silver

Diane Silver is an activist and journalist. Her work has appeared in Ms, The Progressive, and other venues. Her latest books are Your Daily Shot of Hope vol. 1 (Meditations for an Age of Despair) and vol. 2 (Meditations on Awakening). You can find her at www.DianeSilver.net and @DianeSilver

Monthly Editor Maril Crabtree’s poems have been published in I-70 Review, Coal City Review, Main Street Rag, and others. Her book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark (Aldrich Press, 2017) is a Kansas Notable Book and Thorpe Menn Award finalist.

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My words are up against the wall,

monochrome whispers

that slither along the outer rim

of the greater prismatic signified.

No alcanzan

estas alas luminosas 

de tantos pensamientos,

su vuelo refrenado

por este vidrio opaco.

 

My words

mis palabras

up against the wall

contra el muro

two lonely tongues

dos lenguas solitarias.

 

But

juntas

I weave them

ensartando sílabas

like so many pearls,

una escalera de luz

that overcomes the limits,

que derrumba los muros,

words that fly on shimmery wings

en todos los colores de

my voice.

~ Julie Sellers

An Associate Professor of Spanish at Benedictine College, Julie Sellers has twice been the overall prose winner of the Kansas Voices Contest. She has published in Kansas Time + Place, The Write Launch, Kanhistique, and New Works Review. Her third academic book, The Modern Bachateros, was published in 2017 (McFarland).

Monthly Editor Maril Crabtree’s poems have been published in I-70 Review, Coal City Review, Main Street Rag, and others. Her book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark (Aldrich Press, 2017) is a Kansas Notable Book and Thorpe Menn Award finalist.

From the air it seems nothing more

than brushstrokes, casual and thoughtless,

a grand-scale scribbled earthwork,

a monster sketch some great artist

left abandoned at a café —

tiny refrigerator, doorless;

door of a house, houseless; tangles

of the unrecognizable commonplace —

 

not God pointing the way out

of the Garden. But what of this have we

not done to each other, and more? —

a scientist’s dark paper

airplane, thrown by a brute;

children collected in cages;

a world warming to smother us all.

~ Morgan O. H. McCune

Morgan O.H. McCune currently works at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. She is a native Kansan and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and an M.L.S. from Emporia State University (2002). Her poems have been published previously in River Styx.

Monthly Editor Maril Crabtree’s poems have been published in I-70 Review, Coal City Review, Main Street Rag, and others. Her book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark (Aldrich Press, 2017) is a Kansas Notable Book and Thorpe Menn Award finalist.

We come apart
at the edges; our world
falls upon a deep fissured space,
civilization tumbles into
dark heart
crevasses. Our
long quilted union
reveals unraveled seams,
thread-bare patches stretched
to bursting, fabric worn
thin from an uneasy
union.
Ancient fears again
reign
supreme, masked
yet tangible
as breath,
as lungs breathing in deep
lies like polluted
smoke rings.
Adrenalin shouts
lurid cadenzas, spews
vile divisions, false- premised
words call fallen hearts
into a more hopeless
insanity;
delusion-dulled minds
mute all ability to reason;
hatred colors each
loud thought red
with stolen
blood.

August 12 marks the two-year anniversary of the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Va. where Heather Heyer, a counterprotester, was killed.

Elizabeth Perdomo, born in Emporia, Kansas, raised in Winfield, has written poetry since a teen. “One Turn of Seasons,” includes her poetry and another’s photography. Recently, her poems appeared in “Kansas Time + Place,” “Interstice” and “The Chachalaca Review.” Perdomo now lives in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Monthly Editor Maril Crabtree’s poems have been published in I-70 Review, Coal City Review, Main Street Rag, and others. Her book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark (Aldrich Press, 2017) is a Kansas Notable Book and Thorpe Menn Award finalist.

(S. Korea, May 2007)

Egret surveys his paddy,
notes how well it fills and drains.
Egret has a good farmer,
not a jog in hundreds
of green rows, rice sprouts
three beaks’-lengths high
over sheen of mud and water.
Farmer’s back aches from the toil,
but farmers’ backs always ache.
Egret is arcs and angles
lettered white on green-lined mud.
He bends in the paddy’s center,
conscious that he is cursive,
an alphabet of one; finds a morsel,
straightens, cocks his head toward
the highway roar, to his readers.

Roland Sodowsky grew up on a small ranch in western Oklahoma.  He has three degrees from Oklahoma State University and studied Old High German as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany.  He has taught linguistics, literature, and creative writing at OSU, the University of Calabar in Nigeria, the University of Texas, Sul Ross State University, and Missouri State University. He has published poetry, short stories, or novellas in Atlantic Monthly, American Literary Review, Glimmer Train, Midwest Quarterly, and many other literary magazines.  His collection of short stories, Things We Lose (U. Missouri Pr), won the Associated Writing Programs’ Award for Short Fiction.  He received the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Short Fiction Award for Interim in the Desert (TCU Pr), the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines-General Electric Award for fiction, and has been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts award.  Now retired from Missouri State, he and his wife, the poet Laura Lee Washburn, live in Pittsburg, Kansas when he, his brother, and his son are not engaged in a continuing battle with the mesquites and cedars on their family homestead.

Monthly 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 and dogs in Lawrence, Kansas.

 

I.
We first met at a golf course.
Hole eight, midnight.
Our friends, the other couple,
disappeared at hole nine.
I remember we walked all three pars
holding hands, our hips bumping,
stars dropping light on watered turf.

We kissed for no good reason.
I’d first seen your face
not three hours before, in the dark,
but we sat there, moon fizzling
through limbs, dew gathering on us,
so what the hell?

II.
October morning chill. Sun still pink
under the warm horizon. The sky blank,
except for Jupiter and Venus, glowing hot.
The dogs pee, sniff,
knowing my wife has filled
their food bowls. They’re certain.
In what world would their food
not be waiting inside after morning potty?

She kisses me quickly, leaves
for work. I watch her drive away
past all the shining dew.

 

Cody Shrum is an MFA candidate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a fiction emphasis. Cody’s fiction and poetry have appeared in such journals as Five on the FifthRust + MothKansas Time + Place, and velvet-tail, as well as the anthology Kansas Time + Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry. He teaches Discourse at UMKC and is a producer for the Fiction/Non/Fiction Podcast through Literary Hub.

Monthly 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 and dogs in Lawrence, Kansas.

 

When I stopped shaving 

         under my arms

when I stopped shaving the leg

I was not thinking about you.

The young woman stuffed her

  shirt with tissues for tips.

Haslam was not this woman.

Haslam stops shaving at 25

unworried about the waitress

who will notice, who will tell

my husband who will tell

me, “they” talk about 

                     unshaved armpits.

Haslam is the woman.

 Woman has always been 

  judged.

It wasn’t shame exactly

nor exactly fear

but some male threat Haslam felt:

when her hair was too short

a man followed her in to the John.

He did nothing.  He didn’t know.

Haslam girl woman pudgy twelve

  boy bad cut just twelve.

Not-Haslam said her brothers teased.

I remember she said “on the rag.”

Haslam and the Family Picnic

  Haslam afraid of the razor

  Haslam brave     Haslam coward

                                shaves for the first time

then for a dozen years. Haslam

decides in 1990 your ideas

are stupid, that shaving is a social construct.

Haslam advertises for the O

 shape of their lips.

None of this the least related to sex.

 

H.L. Johnson has been writing for enough years to come into her full voice. She is the founder and driving force of a small bi-annual reading series. Her manuscript-in-progress The Scurrilous Notebooks includes these and other poems. Johnson, a feminist activist, is the behind-the-scenes presence on several public social media pages and is actively involved in raising money for redistribution to women in crisis.

Monthly 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 and dogs in Lawrence, Kansas.

 

 

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