Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Denise Low’

Walk after Rain     by Denise Low

Washout mud where flint’sDenise2014SFbySusanGardner (2)
brown slick shines.

Jasper, a scraper,
and there a bird point—

hunters’ tools
fallen from their hands.

My thumb fits the groove.
Chipped facets sting

my palm. What to do?
Collect gifts

from spirits or leave
this gravel porridge

each day streaming
to the Wakarusa.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, won Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light: Poems. Other books are Turtle’s Beating Heart, memoir (U. of Nebraska Press) and Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan). She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and other recognition. She teaches in Baker University’s MLA program. www.deniselow.net

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, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review. Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.

Strata — By Denise Low

1

The aquarium waterfalls bubble

in perpetual green algae springtime.

I open How To Read Water

about adhesions, water striders,

redirected honey eddies.

2

Mosaic backsplash tiles

refract pointillist shadows.

Behind a glass water pitcher swim

garbled blue fins

twisting starfish arms.

3

I salute the great-grandmothers

pumping water into sinks,

all those baskets of apples to wash.

It’s autumn again in Norwood

twenty miles away and a century.

4

An old frame house watches

the pond’s ripples turning pink.

Its eyes are window panes,

antique glass wavering at sunset

until darkness burns liquid flames.

~ Denise Low

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. Other books are a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (U. of Nebraska Press) and A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press). Jackalope, fiction, was acclaimed by Pennyless (U.K.), American Book Review, and New Letters. She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and recognition from PSA, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Award, NEH, and more. Low has an MFA (Wichita State U.) and Ph.D. (Ks.U.). She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. www.deniselow.net

Twelve and a Half Ways of Looking at a Penguin — by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

1

Near our snow condos,

penguins slide across ice.

No ostrich plumes, these birds

wear sleek, Edwardian suits.

 

2

I have always walked like a penguin.

In fact, I was born a penguin long ago

in the days when the ice caps were intact.
3

I slipped into church under knotted skies.

There, the gray day plummeted to black.
4

A man and a woman laugh

at penguin prostitution:

The birds must trade sex

for rocks to build nests.
5

I herringboned up hills

and slid on snowfields.

I pecked through tundra

to unearth pebbles—

and often came up empty.
6

Snow clings to branches

and creates an enchanted

silhouette against a gray

horizon. A penguin strolls

along the coast, searching

for her mate.
7

Dr. Fiona Hunter says penguins

stick with the same mates.

But she adds, “stones are valuable

currency” for them. That

urgency creates reckless hens.
8

Such a day it was—a day

when everything went asunder:

Penguins thundered

and cracked the ice

when a sea lion

raped a penguin hen.

But some of the birds didn’t care.
9

Take that penguin over there

leaning against a snow-wall.

He stares into space

then waddles to a pool

of balloons rising.
10

You grumble about Christmas

and gatherings—

ignore these birds

sliding by us now—ignore

the calls from family.
11

Your words fall

like frogs from your mouth,

and I say the world will end

soon for these penguins

skidding into the blue.
12

Today, these gregarious birds

waddle into politics.

I’d figured they’d march for ecology,

but no—the feathered creatures

fight for civil rights.
12-1/2

I watch a penguin pile stones.

She stops and looks into my eyes.

We do not speak but know.

~ Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Previously published in Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017).

Lindsey Martin-Bowen: 39 West Press released her 4th poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock. Her third, CROSSING Kansas with Jim Morrison (in chapbook form) was a semi-finalist in the QuillsEdge Books 2015-16 contest. A poem from her Inside Virgil’s Garage  (Chatter House 2013) was nominated for a Pushcart, and Standing on the Edge of the World (Woodley), was a Top 10 Poetry Book for 2008 (McClatchy). New Letters, I-70 Review, Thorny Locust, and others have run her work. She taught at MCC-Longview and currently resides in Oregon.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. Other books are a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (U. of Nebraska Press) and A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press). Jackalope, fiction, was acclaimed by Pennyless (U.K.), American Book Review, and New Letters. She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and recognition from PSA, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Award, NEH, and more. Low has an MFA (Wichita State U.) and Ph.D. (Ks.U.). She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. www.deniselow.net

Excuses for Not Marching and Then a Poem — by Melissa Fite Johnson

1. Dry throat I must coat with water or I’ll cough.

2. Dog-sitting for a friend so she can march.

3. The angry parent who checked Facebook

to confirm I’m a liberal teacher.

 

He might find this poem.

It makes me squirm, the thought he could take

my thoughts from my head. My old professor

always says, It’s easier not to write.

Today, it was easier not to lurch

open the garage, turn the key, thrust myself

into history, into the brave crowd

filling their lungs with songs instead of doubt.

My body won’t speck a grainy photograph.

 

August 28, 1963, a young girl rested

her arm on a rail, her head on her arm. The video

unspools her at “sweltering with the heat of

oppression.” Every phrase was

a lighted match. Each flame passed through her.

 

January 21, 2017, what words, what fire

I could have carried home like a torch.

~ Melissa Fite Johnson

“3 Excuses for Not Marching and Then a Poem,”appeared on New Verse News.

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. She is also the author of A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky, winner of the 2017 Vella Chapbook Award (Paper Nautilus Press, 2018). Her poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas. For more, visit melissafitejohnson.com. “Excuses for Not Marching and Then a Poem,” appeared on New Verse News.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. Other books are a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (U. of Nebraska Press) and A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press). Jackalope, fiction, was acclaimed by Pennyless (U.K.), American Book Review, and New Letters. She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and recognition from PSA, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Award, NEH, and more. Low has an MFA (Wichita State U.) and Ph.D. (Ks.U.). She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. www.deniselow.net

Self-defense — by Katelyn Roth

Sharpen your knuckles

with keys and ready the heel of your hand

to crack noses. Knuckles sharp

with keys and the heel of the hand readies

to crack noses. Keys sharpen knuckles;

handheel cracks noses. Knuckles to

noses. Knuckles to noses. Knuckles

to noses. Knuckles to noses. I don’t even like

boxing. I check the backseat

before locking myself in. I hesitate

rolling the trash bin to the curb.

From ages 12-17 I practiced

shimmying tied hands from under my knees

without parting them. Every day

a female friend or relative forwarded the newest

threat—baby crying roadside, flat tires in the mall

parking lot, unattended bar drinks. I hate

the coiled crouch of my body in the dark,

hate my muscles knowing what to do, hate

my expectant resignation, hate

the assault that feels inevitable.

~ Katelyn Roth

Katelyn Roth graduated with her Master’s in poetry from Pittsburg State University. She teaches composition and general literature at Pittsburg State University and Fort Scott Community College. Her work has previously appeared online at Silver Birch Press and at Heartland: Poems of Love, Resistance, and Solidarity.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. Other books are a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (U. of Nebraska Press) and A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press). Jackalope, fiction, was acclaimed by Pennyless (U.K.), American Book Review, and New Letters. She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and recognition from PSA, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Award, NEH, and more. Low has an MFA (Wichita State U.) and Ph.D. (Ks.U.). She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. www.deniselow.net

La Loba’s Song* — By Lindsey Martin-Bowen

(TO MAKE SKELETONS RISE)

. . . I heard a noise: it was the rattling as the bones

came together, bone joining bone. . . .I prophesied

as He told me, and they came alive and stood

upright. Ezekiel 37:7-10 (NAS)

 

Tonight we cry in soul-deep songs:

Eee yō yō. . . .Eee yō yō.

At the dawn, we will sing of joy:

Eee yō yō. . . .Eee yō yō.

 

Our voices will rock the desert

hot with incessant summer winds:

Eee yō yō. . . .Eee yō yō.

 

Our songs stir seas. Skulls and knuckles

rise from the deep, lift to high peaks:

Eee yō yō. . . .Eee yō yō.

 

Our words penetrate aspens, oaks,

junipers, pines, and Joshuas:

Eee yō yō. . .Eee yō yō.

 

Our sounds now strip the forests clean:

to unearth all those underneath.

Eee yō yō. . . .Eee yō yō.

 

The bones we gather rise and dnace

to our music. And we sing loud

praises to the Creator:

Eee yō yō. . . .Eee yō yō. Eee yō yō. . . .Eee yō.

~ Lindsey Martin Bowen

Published in Crossing Kansas with Jim Morrison (Paladin Contemporaries 2016).

*According to Southwest legends (from various tribes

and Mexican cultures), La Loba (The Wolf Woman) works

with angels to gather bones of humans and wolves.

Lindsey Martin-Bowen: Last July, 39 West Press  released her fourth poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock. Her third, CROSSING Kansas with Jim Morrison (in chapbook form) was a semi-finalist in QuillsEdge Books 2015-16 contest. A poem from her Inside Virgil’s Garage  (Chatter House 2013) was nominated for a Pushcart, and Standing on the Edge of the World (Woodley), was a Top 10 Poetry Book for 2008 (McClatchy). New Letters, I-70 Review, Thorny Locust, and others have run her work. She teaches at MCC-Longview and dreams of Pendleton, Oregon.

Guest Editor Denise Low, second Kansas Poet Laureate, has published over 20 books of award-winning poetry and essays, including Ghost Stories (Woodley) and Natural Theologies, essays about Mid-Plains literature (Backwater Press). Low was visiting professor at the University of Richmond and Kansas University. She taught at Haskell Indian Nation University, where she founded the creative writing program. She served Associated Writing Programs as board president. She and her husband Thomas Pecore Weso publish Mammoth Publications.

Grain Elevator Gray — By Roy Beckemeyer

The elevator towers at the edge of town:

grain-dust covers all when hard winter-red is cut.

 

The combines chew lanes, the trucks have no wings

yet fly over gravel. This year’s wheat was chest-

 

deep on the young men whose faces are now dust

covered. They rent rooms without clothes-cabinets,

 

small town antiquated tourist cabins: men

who will not turn home till winter. Feathers

 

of the pigeons are dirt-colored. Dust-gray eggs

in the nest now, and the birds almost tumble

 

as they swoop to peck up spilled kernels. Terraces

step foreign fields but here flatness reigns and you

 

watch the birds soar over heat-baked fields through

the sun’s bright day. They absorb June so that January

 

will not cut so deep. They will move south later, yo-yo

back with spring, desperate gray against the white clouds.


~ Roy Beckemeyer

 

A Golden Shovel poem inspired by Liz Berry’s “Birmingham Roller”


Roy J. Beckemeyer 
is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016.

Guest Editor Denise Low, second Kansas Poet Laureate, has published over 20 books of award-winning poetry and essays, including Ghost Stories (Woodley) and Natural Theologies, essays about Mid-Plains literature (Backwater Press). Low was visiting professor at the University of Richmond and Kansas University. She taught at Haskell Indian Nation University, where she founded the creative writing program. She served Associated Writing Programs as board president. She and her husband Thomas Pecore Weso publish Mammoth Publications.

13 Degrees — By Kevin Rabas

When it gets

cold, and instead

of riding a Ferris wheel

in the snow, flakes

like white holiday lights,

you must walk

to work, to school,

your hat on, hood up,

your gloves ragged,

take heart, somewhere

a warm room

waits for you.

~ Kevin Rabas

Kevin Rabas is the current Kansas Poet Laureate. He teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks. He has seven books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner.

Guest Editor Denise Low, second Kansas Poet Laureate, has published over 20 books of award-winning poetry and essays, including Ghost Stories (Woodley) and Natural Theologies, essays about Mid-Plains literature (Backwater Press). Low was visiting professor at the University of Richmond and Kansas University. She taught at Haskell Indian Nation University, where she founded the creative writing program. She served Associated Writing Programs as board president. She and her husband Thomas Pecore Weso publish Mammoth Publications.

Eliminate — By Ronda Miller

Use it to describe refined sugar, coffee,

or animal protein I removed from my diet.

It works for exercise, although I didn’t

have it to eliminate anyway.

Use it to discuss a policy that won’t work,

a police suspect who’s been ruled out,

or a boyfriend you no longer wish to date.

 

It works for the red dress left

at the store because it doesn’t fit right.

But let’s not use it to describe

the person dying in the street,

the one a government or police

state threw a weapon in front

of as an excuse to watch them bleed out.

 

People aren’t eliminated,

human life is too precious

to equate it to taking out the trash.

~ Ronda Miller

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include the Smithsonian Institute. Her books include Water Signs, Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain.

Guest Editor Denise Low, second Kansas Poet Laureate, has published over 20 books of award-winning poetry and essays, including Ghost Stories (Woodley) and Natural Theologies, essays about Mid-Plains literature (Backwater Press). Low was visiting professor at the University of Richmond and Kansas University. She taught at Haskell Indian Nation University, where she founded the creative writing program. She served Associated Writing Programs as board president. She and her husband Thomas Pecore Weso publish Mammoth Publications.

 

Hobo Code — by Debbie Theiss

I see him walk between railroad tracks,

black braids sway back and forth,

beads interwoven,

long fringed vest jangles,

entwined stones collide.

 

A dog, black and sleek nudges his leg at ready.

Above his head a metal rod with prongs

looms like a goalpost.

Two hawks perch

stately, poised.

 

Hunter? Wanderer?

 

I scramble to the railroad trestle

keeping him in sight,

grass bites bare legs,

my hand runs along outcropped rock,

traces charred hobo codes

 

left by transient workers

during the Great Depression,

lined drawings, meant to guide

simplistic signs

danger ahead, shelter, food.

 

Now draped across his back

the folded platform.

On his shoulders, the hawks hunker

yellow-banded curved beaks

yellow claws clutch.

 

Shelter taken in the shade

of persimmon trees that line the field’s edge.

His fingers probe the bark

small, square blocks

as if searching for signs.

Note: During the Great Depression, nomadic workers traveled on freight trains to garner work that they could find, not spending too much time in any one town. A unique Hobo Code (hoboglyphics) was developed to communicate and give information about places to camp or find a meal or dangers that lay ahead. In Parsons, Kansas a quilt designed with hobo codes was auctioned during Katy Days in celebration of the strong heritage of freight life in Kansas.

Debbie Theiss is an emerging poet. She won 3rd place in the Japanese Haiku Festival Contest and published poems in the Skinny Journal, Paddle Shots: A River Pretty Anthology, Vol. 2, I-70 Review (September, 2016) and was accepted in Interpretations IV in Columbia, MO. She enjoys nature, bicycling, and gardening.

Guest Editor Denise Low: The University of Nebraska Press published Denise Low’s 2017 memoir The Turtle’s Beating Heart, about her grandfather’s Lenape heritage. Other recent books are A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press 2017), Mélange Block: Poems (Red Mt. Press), Jackalope (short fiction, Red Mt. Press), and Natural Theologies: Essays (The Backwaters Press). Low is former Kansas poet laureate and past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies.

Tag Cloud