Consolidation closed rural township schools,
Brought the Shaw boys to town.
Swaggering down locker lined halls,
Wearing button down Madras and smelling of Brute,
Their flushed, sun freckled faces
Tossed flirty smiles at glancing girls
Like horseshoes shooting for a ringer.
Muscled thighs squatted under football pads
Before skillful sprints took down half backs
And linemen in late summer practices
While wiry arms grappled teammates
Easily, like cottonwood and hedge pieces
Heaved into cords near a farmhouse.
Once afternoon buses rolled them home again,
The young studs threw hay off pickup trucks,
Cultivated standing soybeans,
Checked bulls fenced on a back forty,
Plowed up Osage arrowheads and
Pottery shards hiding in wheat stubble
While riding red tractor stallions
Across Neosho River bottom dirt.
Shaw boys returned to actual life
On the Big Muddy–
Just like before consolidation.
~Claudia Mundell grew up in Kansas with work life in Missouri. She has memories from each state that work their way into fiction and poetry. Since retiring, she writes for pleasure—and maybe for profit someday. Her work appears in MidRivers Review, Yellow Medicine Review, Rosebud, TEA, Oklahoma Review, and several anthologies.
~February’s Guest Editor, Laura Lee Washburn directs the Creative Writing program at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas which offers undergraduate and graduate emphases in creative writing. She is the author of the Palanquin Prize chapbook Watching the Contortionists, and March Street Press’s This Good Warm Place. You can find her work in journals such as The Journal, The Sun, Valparaiso Poetry Review,, and at The Broadsided Press website.