Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

I stand
precariously
watching the Passion
from atop this narrow wall.
I teeter,
wedged beside a portly matron
casting suspicious glances
at this blonde foreigner
who dared to ascend
for just a glimpse
of the pageantry
and solemnity
intermingled in the plaza below.
Somber music;
swaying penitents
in crimson robes
and conical black hoods;
the heavy scent of so many flowers,
bright against the ancient stone walls.
Christ crucified,
La Dolorosa looks on
as the faithful lower
His broken body.
Silence.
Tears.
I find my arm around my neighbor’s waist,
hers around mine,
holding each other safe,
bound by something
that transcends all else.

 

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).

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

To one and several poets:

 

“… a hundred little devices …”
– Jim Wayne Miller (I Have a Place: The Poetry of Jim Wayne Miller)

 

I read some of your poems again today –
first those colossal pieces with the hangman, the stars,
and the shroud – then the one where you rhyme the girl
to bed in a thicket thorned with sweet grief
and roses wild and red.

Really nice.

Through a teacup crack you escape down to the climbing,
plunging sea. Splendidly abroad, you wire back:
THE PLANTAGENETS ARE DONE FOR! IF ONLY THEY HAD LISTENED!
On your speaking tour you drink the Pacific dry,
and wow an army of contract bridge players
by conjuring a trick on the spot – a sestina no less –
six words breathing life, love, death.

You sing a wizard mist damp with the tears
of blowsy barmaids and part-time lovers,
some of whom may actually have known you and provided, at least,
the gift of an idea, some tiny salvation you shrewdly
invest for profit on tomorrow’s always empty page.

Magician, jongleur, troubadour –
you are wonderful.

And yet, I cannot follow you.

I come from a place where words have abandoned language,
where crows have become priests, trees no longer
can shed their leaves, and the sky itself has been set
on fire. All the old rituals have given way
to a new, bloodless communion, the sanctification of indifference.

Poetry lives hard here.
Everything tastes of copper.

It grows late.

I open a window to let the day just past
out into the night. Down the block
I can hear the voices of children playing after dinner –
double double this this –
double double that that –

some tiny salvation.

 

Hutchinson native Michael Lasater is Professor of New Media at Indiana University South Bend. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, Juilliard, and Syracuse University, he has performed with ensembles ranging from the Ringling Bros. Circus Band to the Metropolitan Opera, produced nationally distributed video documentaries on poetry and music, and currently exhibits art video internationally. His poetry has appeared in Kansas Time + Place, Heartland!, Cathexis Northwest Press, and The Heartland Review, where he is the winner of the 2019 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

In memory of Kerrie Ann Brown,
whose 1986 murder remains unsolved. 

A man who lived
near the edge of the woods
heard crows crying
that night. Something bad
was coming, he said. He didn’t know
about the dead girl then.

That morning, a woman
on a horse found her broken
beneath the elms.
She was like one of my own,
the woman said. She stayed
with her until the police came.

It’s a small town, and they’ve looked
at each other and at every strange face
but it’s as if a shadow took her,
her daddy says. And still,
those elm branches tremble
with a witness of crows

who spent the night
announcing his face
and they know.

 

Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), The Little Balkans Review, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, and The Maine Review. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin has been awarded for her work in The Cincinnati Review and Kansas Voices.  She is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

My brother wrote stiff thank-you notes
to his biological sisters in Micronesia
who mailed us chocolate macadamia nuts.
They weren’t his real sisters.
He played King of the Couch with me,
pinned my squirming arms down.

Our mother told me not to see color.
My brother showed me I must.
More than once, he shook his arm,
his brown skin, in Mom’s bewildered face.

In every childhood photo
my blond head rests against my father’s
blond head. My mother holds
my brother’s hand. Her white fingers
and his brown fingers make the church,
the steeple, a whole diverse congregation.

 

(Originally published in Stirring Lit, Summer 2017)

 

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 appear or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, Sidereal, Stirring, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband and dogs in Lawrence, Kansas.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

A many-footed dancer stares
into her fire at the end of the year.
Poetry is the coming apart
of language. She is a poem.
Her entropic toes mimic music,

pulse, throb and ache. And how
should she call this road, at times
submerged or slick or a dry 
and crumbling line across the desert; 
what has it done to her feet that 

dancing never would? The fire
sings like a Tom Waits bawler.
She sways until her skin pinks,
her blue eyes sparkle like New Years,
like fragments of a poem as confetti.

 

Gregory Stapp received his BA from the University of Oklahoma and his MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. His poems have appeared or are pending publication with Broadsided Press, The Ekphrastic Review, Forage, The Cortland Review, The Sierra Nevada Review, and The Southern Review, among others. He is the current Managing Editor at Harbor Review.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

The two identically arranged characters
on the bus stop bench across the street
(almost as if they were attempting,
unconsciously, to spoon:
right legs crossed over left,
right arms stretched-out and
resting on bench back,
left hands in left-side coat pockets,
respectively) have begun the solemn,
gradual nod, jerk and snort ritual
of the seasoned drunk or junkie.

And another bus
has unloaded and loaded
and gone on without them again.

And a surly tom cat is strutting
and scratching around the scene
like an alpha barnyard rooster.

And a bull-mastiff pup
strains and whines on his chain
behind the chain-link fence
across the street.

And then there’s me,
just another aging, semi-skilled,
low-wage / low-status American monkey-boy,
waiting for my own ride out
onto the high seas of free trade
and competitive commerce.

Above us: birds, clouds, satellites and stars.

Below us: roots, pipes, tunnels and stones.

I kill my coffee,
light up a white grape flavored cigar
and check the papers for the latest news
from the outside world —

among other things—
Swat-style “No-Knock” Home Invasion Raids
Increasingly Popular With Younger Generation
of Law Enforcement Officers,

For-Profit Prisons
One Of The Nation’s
Fastest Growing Industries,

and

George Zimmerman Tours
Manufacturing Plant of Gun
Used To Kill Trayvon Martin.

Fine day in America, sir.

 

Jason Ryberg is the author of thirteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Standing at the Intersection of Critical Massand Event Horizon (Luchador Press, 2019). He lives part-time in Kansas City with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

Another turn and incline, and I pause,
red hands on ice and rock,
boots packing snow two feet deep.

A snowbank slips down
a sloped burnt-red flat-iron
and an osprey appears and ripples
along the bottom of the sky.

Gray haze sets in like water to paint,
drawing the tips of distant pines
further up and up.

These swaying places,
these turns before the ascent,
suspend my forward movement
just long enough.

The osprey flies downward,
its nest imaginary
warmth somewhere in the trees.

 

Tayler Klein is a writer and teacher from Kansas City, Missouri. She has been published in journals such as Nimrod, The Midwest Quarterly, and Glassworks Magazine. She received her MA in Creative writing from Pittsburg State University, and she now lives with her husband and her dog in Kansas City where she teaches at a Montessori school.

April Editor Roy Beckemeyer‘s latest book is Mouth Brimming Over (2019, Blue Cedar Press).

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