Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Our neighbor tells me it dropped for days

until even the sun could not lift the mercury

from cold, but today all the black squirrels sit

on haunches munching morsels unearthed, robins

step the yards like kings eyeing court favorites

and cardinals trumpet encouragement from the trees

to every living thing that has failed to notice—the warmth,

the crocus, the daffodils, the laid off who stare from curtains,

unconvinced. All afternoon I wait and I watch this space.

One by one, neighbors arrive home from work, open windows

to let the breeze chatter the blinds. They shirk from Carhartts,

kick off boots and sit stoops and lawn chairs in the day’s heat.

Yes, such balm might only be for today, but it’s ours.

~ Laura Madeline Wiseman

 

From An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX [books] 2016).

First appeared (as “First Thaw”) in Sugar Mule, Issue 41, 2012

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of 25 books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Booklist. Her collaborative book Intimates and Fools is a Nebraska Book Award 2015 Honor Book. Her latest book is Velocipede. She teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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.

A near-perfect carry technique

results in safe transport

of coffee from barista to table.

No slosh as hot liquid sways

in tandem with a measured gait.

 

Don’t look at it and it won’t spill.

 

Saucer-cup ensemble is slid slowly

onto a table’s solid surface

with careful consideration

to not waste such vital fluid,

to keep each drop its rightful side of wall.

 

Don’t look at it and it won’t spill.

 

Black ink on morning newspaper,

printed proof of latest violence

this time on foreign ground,

to soak up life spilled

from arteries to exsanguination.

 

Don’t look at it and it won’t spill.

 

Vision clouds at lists of victims

until eyes avert to waiting coffee—

lifeless now, cooled to tepid.

It and headlines are pushed aside

neither valid when left to grow cold.

 

Don’t look at it and it won’t spill.

~ Annette Hope Billings

Annette Hope Billings is an author and actress known for her spoken delivery. She has received a Renna Hunter Award for theater and an ARTSConnect ARTY Award in Literature (2015) Billings’ published works include A Net Full of Hope (2015), a collection of poems and Descants for a Daughter (2016), a collection of inspirations. Her poetry and short stories are included in a number of publications and anthologies. For additional information and performance videos, visit website: http://anetfullofhope.com/

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

Ezekiel pulls up to the cemetery

in a dusty blue Buick Cadillac

leather interior

(his heart)

worn well

with travel but still

supple

still has give

enough to take

this drive every day

because

 

Ezekiel visits his dead

wife at 3 o’clock

pulls a yellow lawn chair

from the back seat and catches

his breath

before unfolding

(his heart)

it’s part of a set

from their wedding in 1957

still sturdy

enough to hold

an old man full of memories

because

 

Ezekiel lingers, leaning

hands clasped in front of her name

on their shared gravestone marker

(his heart)

murmuring

quiet prayers until

his stooped shoulders sag

in a trembling sigh that pulls him

sinking

into the chair to gaze at her

three photos in the marble embedded

her red lipstick smile still bright

enough to feel

rested there in her presence

because

 

Ezekiel shuffles to the end

of the graveyard lane

to say hello to a friend

his brown cane

(his heart)

holds him up

pulls him along

and though this walk is still hard

enough to hurt

he presses on

because

 

Ezekiel goes back to his house

a place that is loud with colors

as afternoon light dances

over photos on the walls

and his and Josie’s grandchildren

run laughing down the hall

when the family visits on Sundays

after Mass

and though he visits the cemetery

on his own he knows

these moments are more than

enough to not be lonely

because

whether there or in his home

(his heart)

he is not alone.

~ Jericho Mariette Hockett

Jericho Mariette Hockett is a native Kansan, social psychology researcher, teacher, poet, writer, crafter, dreamer, mother, lover, daughter, and sister. Her work and play address the quest for meaning and identity, relationships among the living (and the dead), resisting oppression, and empowering self-determination. Her research appears in various academic journals, and her poems appear in SageWoman and Touchstone.

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

My head aches – I stayed too late at the party.

Oh, it was a nice time, shining and sparkling

and smiling beautiful people. We were celebrating something.

Curled now on my sofa, wrapped in a quilt

I drink organic, bitter coffee I ground myself in my electric machine

and brewed in another electric machine while toasting bread

in my other electric machine.

I turn on my laptop after swallowing painkillers

and brown eyes of orphans stare into mine,

darker squinting eyes of adults, brown faces and exploding

rubble behind them beneath headlines of chaos and large numbers

in a place I’d never heard of before a few months ago.

I should have slept in.

 

My head pounds.

I’ve never had such a headache, but then I did have those cocktails

last night. It was an open bar after all

and we were celebrating something.

Too many pink desserts filled with too much sugar were

soft down my throat with butter and cream.

My stomach turns and twists.

The coffee is too strong.

My screen mentions the four-year anniversary

of that one school shooting

where the smallest of us were taken

away unbelievably small unbelievable heartbreak.

 

My head aches more and I am shivering even

with the quilt and coffee.

Perhaps a migraine. Perhaps I’ll turn the thermostat to warmer,

take a hot shower, lie on my bed.

I hope I can sleep this off.

I turn on the radio as my head drops into my feather pillow.

I hear there is oil spilling miles away

into rivers and the ice prevents proper clean-up.

How many black gallons I cannot imagine.

Perhaps it is only a small river that doesn’t feed

anything important.

Skipping the shower because I am dizzy, I click

the voice off before it can say more

about people halfway around the world

are they waking or sleeping?

I wonder and close my eyes to sleep it off

The music and dancing last night

What was it we were celebrating?

Melanie Burdick lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her husband and children, and teaches writing at Washburn University.

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

All the places we grew up have changed.

In California, you can’t get into a restaurant.

Your Virginia Beach is guarded

by four story parking garages,

and your childhood bike is still missing or stolen.

 

Here in Kansas, we aren’t expecting

East and West coast overflows any time soon—

though we have room. If they came,

we would welcome their Grocery offering fresh made sushi,

their deli counter mustards, in-store olive bars,

the good kind of sesame buns, but we go now

 

into our Walstores for a pint or a script,

not noticing the silences and absences,

the way it might appear the benevolent aliens

have finally come and opened a gateway for half

our children and folk to ascend,

leaving us not lonesome not crowded.

 

The abducted folk might have gone through the gateway

into our short pasts, the remembered simple,

rather than our futures. They might have found

egg salad in wax paper and frankfurters turning

on Ferris wheel spits, the lady at the counter

crushing limes into ade and paper straws. I have

a simple list of where America went wrong:

 

We took down the two hundred foot dunes,

dunes taller than forest. We

filled in the swamp and the wetlands for the navy,

believed too hard in plastics, dismantled

the public works, sent the photographers home,

gave the police armored machines. My list

keeps getting longer. America,

 

we took a wrong turn in 1838—no—when Adams

signed the Indian Springs—No, no Monroe,

as long as the grass shall grow, with the big lies,

with tobacco, with the Dutch and the Spanish—

Oh Europe, with your fine cafes, your clotted cream,

your tea, your coffee, pain au chocolate, what,

just what have you done?

~ Laura Lee Washburn

Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review. Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri. She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

circle around,

fly backwards,

fail to synchronize,

flail and squawk,

eventually fall

away into space,

their instincts

as confused as my own.

 

This year an antichrist

strides, legs long enough

to reach Kansas from D.C.,

or is that New York?

 

Native Americans fight

for clean water rights

the world over, stand

their ground as others

around me shrink and smirk,

shirk family duties.

How do we triage

those we love?

Why can’t we inconvenience

ourselves, downsize our homes,

or simply ask that aged

parent for a loan,

live together as one?

 

I keep faith/presence

with like minded people,

promise myself

to continue the fight,

search the sky for geese,

who by instinct,

know where they’re going,

take flight,

and so do I.

~ Ronda Miller

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include the Smithsonian Institute. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

I’m on the wrong side. You’ve forgotten your pitchfork. I’m not scowling at you, wearing a dress, or posing as your wife when really I’m your sister. You’re not wearing the bibs you don’t own. You still have all your hair. The trees behind us are not the shape of orbs and the house is one in which we never lived. We buy a magnet. We consider donning costumes. The gardener who is also the photographer who is also the cashier doesn’t mind the humidity, the cicadas’ song, the drone of tractors, or maybe semis, maybe the highway we took to get this picture. I’m looking for Rosanne Barr’s ex-husband who bought a house here once, rode a bicycle on RAGBRAI, any proof of mists that divide, impossible deaths, a possible life. You’re looking at the map in your head, the one you point to in the air showing me where we’re going next. I’m listening, practicing that magic. You’re telling me you’re the hero of this Midwestern American tale. I nod because today you are. Here we stand, side by side in Iowa, fecund and green, no pitchfork between us, just our hands.

~ Laura Madeline Wiseman

From An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX [books] 2016).

Also appeared in California Ekphrasis, January 2016.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of 25 books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Booklist. Her collaborative book Intimates and Fools is a Nebraska Book Award 2015 Honor Book. Her latest book is Velocipede. She teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

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