Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

chris

My eyes drift across Kansas, its drab winter fields

and bird-churned skies, its highways like frozen

gray rivers, its oak trees clutching brown shawls

of dead unfallen leaves, a rough threadbare comfort.

 

I could stand at my window all day and watch clouds

grazing sky like white bison in a blue meadow. I could

stand at my window all day drinking hot tea. Gazing

is the only thing I’m really good at. I could do it all day.

 

Yesterday I had lunch with Laura, who keeps quoting

Rukeyser on poets of outrage and poets of possibility.

Honestly, I never know where I stand with my poems

full of raptors and wine, empty fields, black morning

 

coffee, and barn cats gagging up something killed

for hunger. Lunch was good, and my belly’s full

of sunshine, but the new year’s colder than ever

as statesmen swear their oaths with their left palms

flat atop piles of money and raised right hands poised

to bitch-slap America. I’ve got nothing to say to make

things better. Tomorrow, trees will still march through

poems like buckskin priests praising the sun, and gods

 

will roost on power lines, then glory in flight. But now

every word is on fire, every blackbird and maple leaf is

a red ember. Sing your children to sleep, sing, for worlds

are burning as we stir anger like sour milk into our coffee.

 

 

Christopher Todd Anderson is Associate Professor of English at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, where he teaches courses in American literature, creative writing, environmental literature, and popular culture.  His poetry has appeared in journals such as River StyxTar River PoetryEllipsisChicago Quarterly ReviewTipton Poetry Journal, and The Midwest Quarterly.

 

Guest Editor 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

 

Stealthily it will come like termites weakening floorboards.

It will come under darkness, clouds kidnapping the moon

while everyone sleeps. It will slow burn and smolder, no flame

waving the flag of crisis when well-built walls crumble to ash.

 

We in the mined lands know something about collapse. It’s not

always explosions and smoke plumes visible seventeen miles away.

Hollow tunnels, machine-carved then eroded by seepage, run beneath

neighborhoods, beneath playgrounds, schools, homes and highways.

 

Here, the ground could swallow the workaday surface into its jagged

stony mouth any moment. You’ll wake to cracking beams in the house

frame, roaring asphalt or stop signs tumbling in. The news will show

the doll’s head, the tricycle, the mangled Toyota dirty at pit bottom.

 

Don’t believe the half-truth litany of tragedy the TV chants night

and day. Usually suffering is quiet as mice, unseen, hidden in shadows

like a basement cricket behind the furnace. It’s there, it sings, but we

sleep too well, hear nothing except in fitful rest and dark dreams.

Christopher Todd Anderson is

chris

Associate Professor of English at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, where he teaches courses in American literature, creative writing, environmental literature, and popular culture.  His poetry has appeared in journals such as River StyxTar River PoetryEllipsisChicago Quarterly ReviewTipton Poetry Journal, and The Midwest Quarterly.

 

Guest Editor 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.

The hull answers to no one except

tidal winds. Manta rays, tall as billboard letters

stitch the ship’s underneath metal parts. Their fin-tips name

 

each rivet. Call this one “country.” Call this

“Orient.” We are the hazards ribboning into

the galley. Dark seams, the staccato of harbor lights

through port holes.

 

The knowable world is a mountain. It is

a mountain. And the low place within is named

“dwelling.” Inside we hear water shake the frame.

 

We hear the steps of someone coming forward.

A calamity, of sorts. Then a man opens the door and fish

spill like bright coppery nerves.oliver

 

 

 

Oliver de la Paz is the author of four collections of poetry: Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby, Requiem for the Orchard, and Post Subject: A Fable. He also co-edited A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. A founding member, Oliver serves as the co-chair of the Kundiman advisory board. Additionally he serves on the Executive Board of Trustees for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. His work has been published or is forthcoming in journals such as American Poetry Review, Tin House, The Southern Review, and Poetry Northwest. He teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low-Residency MFA Program at PLU.

 

 

Guest Editor 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.

After all this time, each star still marks a question.

Why would a God need so many bright eyes

To witness this? How far is that star

That it should be unreachable?

What shall I use as a measure?

 

We could have drawn a legend,

Collapsing the abyss into thin ripples over sand,

Where only the tiniest tragedy could occur,

Or expanding the Atlantic into a bowl so immense

That planets drift like plankton,

Calamities muted by sheer space.

 

We could have steered to port,

Had we kept a better lookout.

 

To change the future, change a word.

Yes. No. Iceberg.

To change the future, watch.

 

We are standing on a deck, the tilt of which

Grows extreme. There is not a heartbeat

Between us and the sea.

At the end (perhaps the beginning?),

See how the brain fires all its flares?

 

We were not made to go down

Without an offering, and who knows

Which flashing string of instinct may be enough.

What pearls will slip through your fingers

Into the hungry sea?

 

You’ll see them fall or,

From another viewpoint, rise

Through miracles of latitude.

Two billion years to that star,

Two miles to the ocean floor,

Two inches and the shell

Of the nautilus begins

To curve into an

Iridescent

Golden

Trap.

img_7069

All ahead dead slow;

Set the watch.

~ Morgan O. H. McCune

Morgan O.H. McCune was born and raised in Topeka. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and a Master of Library Science from Emporia State University (2002). She is currently working as a Cataloging Librarian, Associate Professor, at Pittsburg State University.

 

Guest Editor 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.

Knowledge, admonition, lessons. The uses of the dead.

Tongues of grass flick at my booted feet on this old road

furrowed between a rank and file of graves. Stone tongues,

civilian casualties in secret U.S. war reports, entombed.

 

There is no afterlife except our after. Winter ice, the snow

burying the dead grass, the unmarked bodies, a potter’s

field, vessels broken and forgot so close to us. The Army

shoveling millions of words over what really happened.

Some of us with hoe and spade in the wreckage, unburying.

mbp-arrest-dc-80s-jeb

       

Pratt arrested for civil disobedience against U.S. military intervention in Central America, c. 1984.                     Photo credit: Joan E. Biren (JEB)

Minnie Bruce Pratt is a lesbian writer and white anti-racist, anti-imperialist activist, who was educated in the great liberation struggles of the 20th century through grass-roots organizing with women in the army-base town of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and through teaching at historically Black colleges. Her most recent book of poetry is “Inside the Money Machine” (Carolina Wren Press).

 

Guest Editor 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 The New Verse 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.

macy

Gee whiz, All-American boy.

Blue-eyed crystal

Toothpaste grin

Bleached Chiclet teeth

Hair, golden waves of grain.

 

Cover of Boy’s Life:

“Explore Your Future!”

Cover of Sports Illustrated:

“Kid Dynamite: Mike Tyson, the Next Great

Heavyweight—and He’s Only 19!”

Cover of GQ: “Sean Connery

On Politics & Power”

Oh you, Cover boy,

Strike a pose.

 

Lantern-jawed

Testosterone

Long-limbed

Strike a pose

Barrel-chested

Nipples like rosy pennies.

 

Wonder Bread

PBR

AXE

Old Spice.

High school hero:

Shoulder pads

Chewing gum,

Speedos, jock straps

Stanford Cardinals bleed.

 

Mama spit-cleans

Daddy grills

Red Solo cups

Steaks medium-well

Never bleeding

—Since those 10 minutes of action,

meat hasn’t tasted the same—

Summer-browned skin

Docks, cattails, skimming bare feet

Skipping smooth stones

—Since those 10 minutes of action,

his stroke has slackened—

Starting block

Little crimson briefs

Hot-blooded competition.

 

The Dane saw our All-American

behind a dumpster, called, and

vomited on the ground.

J.E. Macy grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City, and since graduating high school in 2009 has lived quite nomadically. She left Pittsburg State University with a degree in English, gallivanted across Europe, returned home, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing at her alma mater.

 

Guest editor 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 The New Verse 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.

we saw The Lego Movie over two years ago

enough time to forget that President Business

is actually Lord Business whose intent

is to take over the worldauthor-photo-by-Kevin-Rabas.jpg

the fact in this story comes

back to me as if

I am Emmet and know

there is work to do in building

holding onto a piece of resistance

unsure of where to place it

 

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). His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others. Please feel free to connect with him at dennisetzeljr.com.

 

Guest Editor 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 The New Verse 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.

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