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 Styx, Tar River Poetry, Ellipsis, Chicago Quarterly Review, Tipton 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