Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Al Ortolani’

Cathedral of the Plains by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

(St. Fidelis Church)Lindsey
Victoria, Kansas

Even if it isn’t the Temple at Nîmes,
we race each other through quiet streets
to this tall, limestone church that reigns
over Victoria, a town the British named.
Inside, I feel chills and wonder if a spirit followed us.
I squint at windows to see if it filtered through green
and red glass, and listen for rustlings of the Holy Ghost.

Here, white marble guards the sanctuary.
It spreads out like angel wings, this marble from Italy.
But St. Fidelis never stepped inside this sacred place.
Killed when he claimed, “One Lord, one faith,”
he left the earth in 1622, centuries before this altar
was shipped, before Volga-German farmers agreed
to lift a cross here and name a church after this martyr.

St. Fidelis studied law and taught philosophy,
fought cases for the poor, and like me,
when put off by too much aggression
and greed, dropped the legal profession.
No saint, I come from German farmers in Mankato,
where the prairie roils from rust to green,
acres away from this Plains Cathedral.

And burdened with uncertainties,
I wonder if I’m a tsunami or a soaring melody.
Under stained glass reflecting in corners,
I move to candles and drop in quarters.
Then I light two stubs and drop to my knees.
I cross myself, inhale sweet perfume,
and watch you lift your camera to snap these scenes.

~ Lindsey Martin-Bowen

(From Standing on the Edge of the World, Woodley Press 2008)

Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s “Bonsai Tree Gone Awry” (Inside Virgil’s Garage, Chatter House Press 2013) was nominated for a Pushcart. Woodley Press published Standing on the Edge of the World, named one of the Top 10 Poetry Books for 2008 (McClatchy). Paladin Contemporaries released three of her novels, and her poetry has run in New Letters, I-70 Review, Coal City Review, Thorny Locust, Flint Hills Review, Bare Root Review, The Same, Little Balkans Review, and others. She teaches at MCC-Longview.

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Writer’s Almanac, and the New York Quarterly. He has published several collections of poetry. His Waving Mustard in Surrender (NYQ Books) was short-listed for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award from Binghamton Univesity. Paper Birds Don’t Fly was released by New York Quarterly Books in April of 2016. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Place, The Brick Mountain Foundation, The Little Balkans Press, and is currently a member of the Board of the Woodley Press at Washburn University in Topeka.

In Search of John Juda’s Grave by Mary-Lane Kamberg

Killed by Quantrill’s Raidersml2
Olathe, Kansas, September 6, 1862

broken tombstones,
eroded epitaphs
pleasant ridge
where Judas grieved
gone to clover
dandelions
moles

~ Mary-Lane Kamberg

(first published in Midwest Quarterly)

Mary-Lane Kamberg lives in Olathe, Kansas. Her first chapbook, Seed Rain, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2015. She is listed as a Kansas Poet on KansasPoets.com and serves as co-leader of the Kansas City Writers Group. She directs the I Love to Write camp for young writers.

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Writer’s Almanac, and the New York Quarterly. He has published several collections of poetry. His Waving Mustard in Surrender (NYQ Books) was short-listed for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award from Binghamton Univesity. Paper Birds Don’t Fly was released by New York Quarterly Books in April of 2016. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Place, The Brick Mountain Foundation, The Little Balkans Press, and is currently a member of the Board of the Woodley Press at Washburn University in Topeka.

Inspiration by Julie Ramon

It waits for me on a dirt roadJulieramon.jpg
between Kansas and Missouri.

When I slow down and stop
at an intersection, it runs
to my window. In torn clothing,
with a dirty face, it asks for change—
something warm to eat—a ride.

Cracking my window I ask
how far are you going? It says,
as far as you can take me. I nod,
open my door and let it climb in.

And, as we drive, we part crops, cattle,
and flocks of crows that sit
like rooted teeth on fence lines.
I speed and release them into the sky
and the space in front of my windshield.

Here, sunflowers stand perfectly
unripe. Green disks point up
towards the sky and turn away
when curiosity comes in the form
of a cow with a raised, wet nose.

It asks to crack a window
to feel the wind on its face, but I ignore
the plea, and lock the doors, afraid
it will slip out in the air between crows
and disappear beneath rocks
and settling dust.

~ Julie Ramon

Julie Ramon is an English instructor, specializing in English as a second language, at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Her poems “Making Tamales” and “Making Tortillas” were recently published in the literary food magazine, Graze. She enjoys baking and selling cakes from home on weekends. She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband and son.

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Writer’s Almanac, and the New York Quarterly. He has published several collections of poetry. His Waving Mustard in Surrender (NYQ Books) was short-listed for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award from Binghamton Univesity. Paper Birds Don’t Fly was released by New York Quarterly Books in April of 2016. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Place, The Brick Mountain Foundation, The Little Balkans Press, and is currently a member of the Board of the Woodley Press at Washburn University in Topeka.

Yellow Butterflies by Julie Sellers

Gossamer wings150kansas-poems-submission
shiver around my ankles, knees—
momentary flickers of sunlight
that spring from my dusty steps
and glisten on waves of three o’clock heat.
Around me,
everything plays in August slow-motion,
everything…
except the nervous hearts around my legs,
the fluttery wings within my chest.
Yet I continue numbly on,
surrounded, inundated
by yellow butterflies,
forbidding myself to question
the motive for their dance.

~ Julie Sellers

(Originally published in Sunflower Anthology. Ed. Bryan Penberthy, Jonathan Holden, and Quoc Nguyen. Vol. 1. Manhattan, KS: Ag Press, 1996. 40. Print.)

Julie Sellers is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Benedictine College. Julie has published in CAPPER’S, Kanhistique, New Works Review, and Troika. She was twice the winner of the K-State Alumni Association’s Nonfiction Writing Contest. Julie’s second book, Bachata and Dominican Identity, is forthcoming as a bilingual text from McFarland (2014).

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Writer’s Almanac, and the New York Quarterly. He has published several collections of poetry. His Waving Mustard in Surrender (NYQ Books) was short-listed for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award from Binghamton Univesity. Paper Birds Don’t Fly was released by New York Quarterly Books in April of 2016. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Place, The Brick Mountain Foundation, The Little Balkans Press, and is currently a member of the Board of the Woodley Press at Washburn University in Topeka.

Seasoning by Greg German

Fall blew under the porchGGeman 270px

late, and it was mid-November

before elm leaves chatting

in the front yard chased

themselves into that place

where only the dog ventured.

In the garden, bony tomato

and cucumber vines posed

limp. Stiff stems still clung

to apples too mushy to throw.

The flies had vanished.

Cows brought in, turned out

to milo stubs, licked up dry-sweet

stalks and juicy heads missed

by anxious combines. Each morning

we stretched last year’s cramps

from worn coats, and exercised

new gloves on bucket handles;

sows bumped from beds furrowed

in straw. Spiced, fully cooked

and cooling, the air cured

into winter.

~ Greg German

(originally published in Negative Capability, 1987, v.7 n.3)

Greg German was born and raised near Glen Elder, in north central Kansas, where he farmed with his family for many years. He currently lives in Kansas City, Kansas, with his wife Regina and son, Alden. He is a private consultant specializing in technical communication, web site development, free-lance writing and photography. He holds a B.A. degree in English/Creative writing and a B.S. in Education from Kansas State University. Previously, Greg has taught high school English and, creative writing at both the high school and college levels. He also developed and maintains www.kansaspoets.com — a website unique to Kansas Poets. Greg’s poetry and personal essays have appeared in over 50 literary journals across the U.S.

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Writer’s Almanac, and the New York Quarterly. He has published several collections of poetry. His Waving Mustard in Surrender (NYQ Books) was short-listed for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award from Binghamton Univesity. Paper Birds Don’t Fly was released by New York Quarterly Books in April of 2016. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Place, The Brick Mountain Foundation, The Little Balkans Press, and is currently a member of the Board of the Woodley Press at Washburn University in Topeka.

december Kansas twilight by jt knoll

PastedGraphic-1hauling wood to front porch

wheelbarrow circles back

to peach sky behind old

white frame garage

 

brother john shoots basketball

until too dark to see hoop

 

brother steve

sells christmas trees

below bare bulb

 

metal chain keeps perfect time

on steel flagpole

in schoolyard

~ J. T. Knoll

J.T. Knoll, a native of the Republic of Frontenac, Kansas, is a counselor, prize-winning columnist, poet and speaker. His poetry and prose has been published widely across the United States. He lives in Pittsburg, with his wife, Linda, and dog, Arlo the Labradorian.

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.

Sixteen by Laura Lee Washburn

The tramping van made me woman enough.Photo on 2010-07-13 at 11.40 #3 (1)

Carburetor, clutch, hub, window guide, crank

pulley roused me before I knew the other words

of womanhood: snake, bend, flood stop, drop elbow

universal flapper, male and female fittings.

Coming back from the feed lot,

Dad stopped quick for the hippy van,

bread truck, whatever it had been.

We painted it primer black for a mural.

I tossed a mattress in back for a home

on the way to quest. Nothing turns out

how you plan. I should’ve learned body

repair, how to press the smash out of a door,

how to fire glass back to a pane, how loving

sometimes calls you out of your dreams,

how it follows you, even into the prairie grass

bent in November’s sullen winds.

~ 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 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.


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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