Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Al Ortalani’

A Tiny Drop of Truth — By Jason Ryberg

Sometimes the summer night’s hot whisper

is nothing more than a black snake’s hiss of a word

we cannot always quite discern-

 

a momentary corridor 

of connectivity between us 

and the outer darkness 

between the stars-

 

a smooth shiny pebble of a word

barely graspable in its hard

slippery-sloppish-ness,

 

nearly as ethereal on its surface 

as the thought

at its dark heart,

 

a thought with a tiny drop of truth

in its blood, like a poison,

secretly insinuated into 

the winding stream of things

in an attempt to stimulate some sort of healing

of the tear between the way things appear to be

and the way things really are,

 

a truth that by fevering up the blood a bit

and disquieting deep dreams

and maybe thereby prying open the inner onion-eye

that sleeps, deeply, at the center of the mind

forces itself 

 

to at least be disbelieved.

~ Jason Ryberg

Jason Ryberg is the author of twelve 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 collections of poems are A Secret History of the Nighttime World (39 West, 2018) and Lone Wolves, Black Sheep and Red-Headed Stepchildren (Kung Fu Treachery Press, 2018). He lives part-time in Kansas City and Salina 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.

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and the Chiron Review. He is the recent recipient of the Rattle Chapbook Award for 2019. Ortolani is the Manuscript Editor for Woodley Press in Topeka, Kansas.

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Sleet Storm — By Adam Jameson

We’d been out in the storm for an hour.

I’d noticed him shivering a time or two.
When I asked if he wanted to go home,

all I got was a headshake no.

I didn’t tell him I was freezing my ass off too.
We sat there in the blind, not saying a word.

Sleet was collecting on the decoys

and the brim of my hat.
Just before shooting hours were over

I saw 2 drakes and a hen coming hard.
Take’em, I whispered.
Cole dropped the 2 drakes.

I hadn’t even raised my gun.
Why didn’t you shoot, Dad?
I started to tell him about being

middle-aged, not being able

to see so good and slower reflexes.

Instead, I wiped the sleet off my face

and headed for the kayak

to pick up his birds.

~ Adam Jameson

Adam Jameson was born and raised in Pittsburg Kansas. He is 1995 graduate of Pittsburg State University with a BA in History. He has a varied job history but has spent the last 10 years with Westar Energy as a meter reader and now an Estimator. His work has appeared in Harp, The Little Balkans Review, To the Stars Through Difficulty and Ghost Sign, which was named a Kansas Notable Book. He was recently featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writers Almanac. His poetry collection #9 to Sallisaw was published by The Little Balkans Press. He’s also spent the last 30 years performing with White Buffalo Poetry and Blues. He lives in rural Pittsburg with his wife Mer, son Cole and a Shi Tzu named Scooter.

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and the Chiron Review. He is the recent recipient of the Rattle Chapbook Award for 2019. Ortolani is the Manuscript Editor for Woodley Press in Topeka, Kansas.

That’s It — By J. T. Knoll

My dad jitterbugged counterclockwise

on the hardwood to big bands

from his teens until

his back gave out in his mid-70s.

 

Danced with mom in the kitchen

as “Rock Around the Clock” blared

on a dinky little 45 player.

Loved to sing too.

We’d harmonize in the old Buick,

south on Hwy 71, the 120 miles back home

from Chief’s games at old Municipal Stadium.

 

An engineer on the Kansas City Southern Railroad,

he’d sometimes croon “For the Good Times” or “Paper Doll”

on an open radio channel from K.C. to Shreveport.

 

In the early 1960s he bought an RCA console stereo

and hired Frank, the local TV repairman,

to wire it to the speaker of our upright television

to get an even more pronounced “split.”

 

One day, not long afterward, when he was listening

to Sil Austin play “Danny Boy” on tenor sax,

I walked into the living room

to find him sitting a chair positioned

halfway between both speakers.

 

He waved me over to his side.

Listen,” he said,

his eyes welling with tears.

That’s it.”

~ J. T. Knoll

J.T. Knoll is the author of Where The Pavement Ends and co-author of Ghost Sign, a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. He lives on Euclid’s curve in Pittsburg, Kansas with his wife, Linda, and dog, Arlo the Labradorian.

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and the Chiron Review. He is the recent recipient of the Rattle Chapbook Award for 2019. Ortolani is the Manuscript Editor for Woodley Press in Topeka, Kansas.

Finding Work After the War — By H.C. Palmer

Our sons join the army to get work being shot at.

Jim Harrison  

 

 For a long time there were simultaneous 

wars, so work was good.  Now the wars 

are winding down and our poor 

are unemployed.  They phone

government hotlines then get disconnected.

I know a stonemason disabled from battling

his chisel.  He says there will always be his kind

of work—thousands of gravestones 

stockpiled in the quarries of Vermont.  

He says he’s willing to teach,

but worries some might inscribe their own names

before praying into the muzzle of a Colt 45. 

 ~ H. C. Palmer

Previously published in Feet of the Messenger, Bk Mk Press

H.C. Palmer lives in Lenexa, KS.  He mentors and teaches at the Kansas City Veteran Writers’ Work Shop.  Feet of the Messenger was published in October 2017 by Bk Mk Press, University of Missouri, Kansas City.  It was a finalist for the Balcones Poetry Prize and a Kansas Notable Book.

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and the Chiron Review. He is the recent recipient of the Rattle Chapbook Award for 2019. Ortolani is the Manuscript Editor for Woodley Press in Topeka, Kansas.

 

 

Margaret Youvan — by J.T. Knoll

I had a lifetime penchant for clipping and saving whatever suited my fancy from the newspaper, starting at fifteen with my grandmother’s obituary notice. Lately, Tyson biting off a piece of Holyfield’s ear, Clinton’s Whitewater troubles, a beauty shop expanding to a full-service salon, Frontenac High School football games, lots of local wedding and anniversary announcements and, of course, obituaries. While I was living up in Kansas City, I collected song lyrics by jotting them down on scraps of paper at work, then transcribing them longhand into books — 15 all told. You might remember I mixed sodas and malts with Gertie behind the marble counter at Fedell’s Drug Store in the 1950s. For five years before Fedell’s, I took care of my bedridden mother. Once I forgot some anniversary or birthday and told her I was sorry — that I should have bought her some flowers. “You don’t need to buy me no flowers, Margaret,” she said. “You’re my flower.”

~ J. T. Knoll

T. Knoll,a native of the Republic of Frontenac, Kansas, is a counselor, prize-winning newspaper columnist, poet and speaker. Ghost Sign, his recent collaboration with three other Southeast Kansas poets, was selected as a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. He lives in Pittsburg on Euclid’s Curve, with his wife, Linda, and dog, Arlo the Labradorean.

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

Good Housekeeping by Melissa Fite Johnson

I.Bio pic

The mother of my childhood

is propped up by the vacuum handle.

Her arms disappear at the ends

into filmy sink water.

She scrubs the kitchen floor the hard way,

sponge instead of mop. She’s tired.

 

She won’t stop

my father’s cancer from sweeping

through our tidy lives,

but she is armed

with spray bottles and paper towels.

 

II.

My father’s smoking

transformed the bathroom vent

from flute smooth to caked fireplace ash.

I pictured his lungs changing texture,

his heart no longer a red flame

but the doused black matchstick.

 

I tried hiding his cigarettes.

He always found them. Eventually,

I learned the joy my mother took in controlling

what could be. I polished the vent

with a pretty white cloth,

tenderly as she did her collection of tea spoons.

~ Melissa Fite Johnson

Melissa Fite Johnson teaches English at Pittsburg High School in Kansas. She’s had poetry published in magazines such as Sotto Voce, The Little Balkans Review, and Inscape Magazine, and in a Kansas Notable Book poetry collection To the Stars Through Difficulties. The Little Balkans Press will publish her first book of poetry, While the Kettle’s On, this year. Melissa and her husband, Marc, live in Pittsburg with their dog and several chickens.

Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Word Riot, and the New York Quarterly. His fifth collection of poems, Waving Mustard in Surrender, was released in 2014 from New York Quarterly Books. Currently, he is teaching English in the Blue Valley School District and serves on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Writers Place.

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